Monday, 28 September 2015

True Power by Gary Meehan

Synopsis (from Netgalley

Pages: 448
Publisher: Quercus
Released: 1st of October 2015
Other Books in the Series: True Fire
                                           True Dark

The battle for Werlavia rages on. Don't miss the thrilling conclusion to the True Trilogy.

The War

After battling their way across Werlavia, Megan and her friends have found safety in the mountain city of Hil. But the army of the True are waiting.

The Threat

Megan knows they can't ignore the witch menace for long. Empowered by their guns and their allies, they are coming for her, for her daughter, for their world. 

The Power

Megan is no longer an ordinary mill girl. Mother, Apostate, Countess: it is up to Megan to protect the people of the Realm. But she will have to risk everything she loves to do so.

What I Have to Say 

I'm so sad that this series has come to an end. I love the humour in it so much. It makes it a much lighter read than most other fantasy series despite having such dark and emotional themes. There's a lot of ways to release tension through comedy and Gary Meehan does it fantastically through a witty one-liner or a double entendre. 

Though I felt that this book was lacking a little. There were still plenty of sarcastic comments, but the lack of Eleanor and Damon's bickering really effected the tone of the book. Though the tone change was probably right for this final book, it just wasn't the same. 

The conclusion was very well thought out and very in keeping with Megan's character. Strong characters is another thing that this series has going for it and Megan is probably one of the most interesting Fantasy heroines I've ever seen. She's not the typical, self-sacrificing for the sake of the kingdom heroine, she's just Megan. She does what she has to. 

I'm a little sad that I haven't been able to fit in a blog post for this series before now, but it's definitely one of my top Fantasy series. 


Saturday, 26 September 2015

Being Me by Adele Vialli by Pete Kalu

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 229
Publisher: Hope Road
Released: 15th of October 2015

The teenage years! A time when you didn’t have all these responsibilities, when your future shone brightly before you, the world full of opportunity!

Who are we trying to kid? Being a teen is hard. Even when you’re a star on your school’s soccer team, are a good student, and have a boyfriend, there are plenty of ways that being a teen—to speak bluntly—sucks. 

What I Have to Say 

Although this book is a good impression of teenage life, anger and friendships, I have to say it made very little impression on me. The teen voice could well be very accurate for a younger teenager. But it just annoyed me. I'm used to reading books about teenagers who seem more intelligent than the girl in this is and so are most of the people reading Young Adult literature. I feel that if there's one thing to know about writing for young adults, it is that they hate feel they're being talked down to. 

The story was okay. The bits about shoplifting were especially interesting to me. I suppose I find the reasons that some teenagers feel the need to shoplift even if they can afford the items intriguing. I think it's important for society in general to be aware that often shoplifting can be a cry for help.

To be completely honest, football completely bores me. Because of this, I didn't enjoy the parts of this book that were about football. But I do think that this book should be applauded for showing girls playing football. I can't think of many other books for teenagers that have girls playing football. So though I didn't like those bits, I think that it was just my personal tastes and that they are definitely a point in favour of this book. 

As I always say in reviews of books I haven't really liked, it's not for me, but it might be for you. 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 528
Publisher: Indigo
Released: 29th of September 2015 

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price - and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy, Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone.

A convict with a thirst for revenge.
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager.
A runaway with a privileged past.
A spy known as the Wraith.
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Six dangerous outcasts. One impossible heist. Kaz's crew is the only thing that might stand between the world and destruction - if they don't kill each other first.

What I Have to Say 

I had no idea how much this book was missing from my life. The world needed a heist book set in the Grisha universe so much. In fact, off the top of my head, I cannot think of a single fantasy heist book, though I'm sure they exist (and if anyone knows of one, leave a comment because I want to read them). This book had me enthralled from the beginning, though I took a while reading it because I really wanted to savour it. Despite being over five hundred pages, it ended far too quickly. I want more. 

I don't think there was a single main character that I didn't like. Obviously there were some I liked more than others (Inej, Nina, Kas, to name just a few), but there weren't any characters that I just didn't like. And those who I wasn't completely enamoured with by the first paragraph, I grew to love pretty quickly. 

I say this for a lot of series, but I cannot wait for the next book. The ending was the kind that had me very frustrated that I couldn't read on. Though even if it hadn't ended on such a cliffhanger, I feel I would have said the same. I want more of these characters in my life. I would reread this book a thousand times if I had time. I just want more. 

This is without a doubt one of the best books that I've read this year. Probably one of the best that I'm going to read this year. I want everyone in the world to read this book because I love it so much. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka

 Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 238
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 7th of August 2014

Seventeen-year-old Lumikki Andersson is hardly your average teenager. She lives by herself in the city of Tampere, Finland, and has a firm rule to mind nobody's business but her own. But that rule is put to the test when she happens upon five hundred washed euro notes hanging up to dry in her school's darkroom, and it is shattered once Lumikki realises who owns them.

Caught in an increasingly tangled web of deception, corruption and danger, Lumikki finds herself navigating the Tampere's dark underbelly in the search to expose its shocking connection to the international drugs trade. Lumikki is smart, but is she smarter than a master criminal? Can she bring down the infamous 'Polar Bear' - or will she become another one of his victims?

What I Have to Say 

It took me a while to get into this book. I liked it a lot once I got into it, but there was a fair amount of time when I just wasn't engaged with it. The main character was interesting, though it was hard to get into her head. Towards the start it felt like she was just trying to be different. Though after a while, you begin to find out why she's the way she is and the reasons behind certain things she does. I found the understanding made her more interesting and not just someone trying to be different for the sake of it. 

The plot line also got a while to get started, but once it did, I really liked it. The suspense was good and I really liked the way they brought in Lumikki's name and the whole fairy tale/ snow white/ snow queen thing. 

I think it was good as thrillers go, but for me it just didn't feel like anything special. 

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Counting Stars by Keris Stainton

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 288
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released: 3rd of September 2015

Big city, big dreams, no money, no problem...

Six 'friends', one flat, big dreams... what could go wrong? When eighteen-year-old Anna leaves school and moves to Liverpool, she feels like her life is finally beginning. She's landed her dream job at a theatre, and she's moving into an exciting (if not slightly run-down) flat on a buzzing street lined with shops, bars, and buskers. Best of all, her new flatmates are kind, welcoming and a lot of fun - what more could she ask for?

But although her new life is fun, it's also a little overwhelming. Anna's job quickly falls through, and then she realises that although her new friends are great, they're also a little mixed-up... and it's not long before Anna starts using her blog to talk about her experiences, from the hilarious to the ridiculous to the little-bit-scary. But when Anna spills a bigger secret than she can handle, suddenly the consequences are all too real. She'll have to prove she has the mettle to make it in the big city, or risk losing everything she thinks she wants.

What I Have to Say 

This book was a very realistic tale of a teenager moving away from home for the first time and one of the few books I've see that show a character choosing not to go to University, which is good because it shows the other path that people can choose. This will really help people who, like Anna, don't really want to go. 

Anna moves into a house with people who are honestly the dream housemates. They're fun, they're quirky and they don't argue about who's going to do the washing up (though I think that's just because Alfie does it). I really liked them as a group.

It shows various problems, living away from home for the first time, abuse, job hunting, parental pressure, sharing your life with the internet and many more. But it was a fairly gentle read. A lot of these problems bubbled away under the surface of the story for a lot of the book with the only real conflict coming in the last couple of chapters.

Though this book wasn't a "page-turner" or a "thrill a minute", it made a lot of valid points whilst being a gentle read. Let's be honest here, if all the books you read are "unputdownable" you'd never get anything done.

It probably won't be a book I think back on in six months time, but it was one that I enjoyed reading.

3.5 Stars

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Monsters by Emerald Fennell

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 288
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released: 3rd of September 2015

Set in the Cornish town of Fowey, all is not as idyllic as the beautiful seaside town might seem. The body of a young woman is discovered in the nets of a fishing boat. It is established that the woman was murdered. Most are shocked and horrified. But there is somebody who is not - a twelve-year-old girl. She is delighted; she loves murders. Soon she is questioning the inhabitants of the town in her own personal investigation. But it is a bit boring on her own. Then Miles Giffard, a similarly odd twelve-year-old boy, arrives in Fowey with his mother, and they start investigating together. Oh, and also playing games that re-enact the murders. Just for fun, you understand... 

What I Have to Say

This was a good story, but really wasn't my thing. I was put off by the level of description that the writer used in the gory parts of the book. It made up a lot of the personalities of the two characters, so I understand the reasons behind putting in so much detail. There are people out there that will love this book for precisely this reason. It just put me off completely. 

Often I find screwed up characters or characters who do bad things really interest me, but I just didn't like these too. It probably goes back to the gory side of things and how much they enjoyed it that made me dislike them, especially the bit with the cat. 

The ending was really good though. I wasn't really intrigued by the mystery, but I found the solution to be really satisfying, I can't say I noticed any foreshadowing to it, but it was surprising without seeming too out there. 

It was a good book, just really not my thing. 

Monday, 14 September 2015

Hacked by Tracy Alexander

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 288
Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Released: 6th of November 2014

Dan had been diagnosed as ADHD as a child. He quite liked the ritalin, but then he got into computers, and for his parents a geek was better than something feral. It was hard to remember when the genuine hacking started; but free phone credit was the first illicit, tangible "real-life" results of a hack, though not the last. 

By the time Dan is contacted online by "Angel," he is eager for the challenge laid before him - creating tricky bits of code. But Dan begins to suspect that something more nefarious may be planned for his code than he thought. He will have to decide what truly matters more - protecting his anonymity and freedom or preventing a deadly terror attack ... 

What I Have to Say 

This is such an interesting book. It really makes you think about how easy it is to be tricked and cross the line between mild law breaking and getting people hurt. I had a lot of sympathy for Dan as he faced the choice between trying to make things right and keeping himself from getting into trouble for what he'd done. 

It was really interesting to see how his friends and girlfriend reacted to his hacking, especially at school with the mobile phone hacking and with his little sister on club penguin. It shows how people are; how they encourage him and flock to him when he's getting them top ups for their phones but turn on him later when things get more serious. 

I'm looking forward to getting my hands on the next book because it looks like something equally as interesting. 

Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Secret Fire by C.J. Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 424
Publisher: Atom
Released: 3rd of September 2015

French teen Sacha Winters can't die. He can throw himself off a roof, be stabbed, even shot, and he will always survive. Until the day when history and ancient enmities dictate that he must die. Worse still, his death will trigger something awful. Something deadly. And that day is closing in.

Taylor Montclair is a normal English girl, hanging out with her friends and studying for exams, until she starts shorting out the lights with her brain. She’s also the only person on earth who can save Sacha.

There’s only one problem: the two of them have never met. They live hundreds of miles apart and powerful forces will stop at nothing to keep them apart.

They have eight weeks to find each other.

Will they survive long enough to save the world?

What I Have to Say 

I've been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it and it was so good! I loved it from the first page until the last. The characters were both perfect. I loved Taylor a lot. She was intelligent, driven and had a distinct personality that is sometimes lost in that type of character. Sacha was tough, dangerous, off the rails and wonderfully French. You could see the chemistry between the two from really early on. 

The writing styles of the two authors complimented each other really well. I adored the mysteries surrounding the two characters. Taylor, starting to find out that there's something unusual going on with her and Sacha having known for a while that he's going to die and given up on his life because of it. 

I'm looking forward to seeing how this series develops. I have a feeling it's going to become one of my favourites. 

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

Synopsis (From Goodreads

Pages: 434
Publisher: Usbourne
Released: 1st of August 2015

All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

What I Have to Say 

The representation in this book was phenomenal. The accuracy of the descriptions of OCD were, in my experience at least, bang on. The way that Holly Bourne portrayed the choppy, frantic way that people with anxiety tend to think was very impressive. And even with all that going on, she has managed to keep the voice of the character there underneath it all. 

The only negative thing I found in this book was when Evie made the point that people with mental illness don't tell people they have mental illness. While being quite clearly the characters opinion not the author's, I felt that could send the wrong message out, because some people who do talk about their illnesses may feel invalidated by this statement. But equally as important is that people should feel comfortable to talk about their illnesses if we want a world where mental illness is seen as a socially accepted illness to have. Although I really do agree with Evie's point that people should not be using terms like bipolar and OCD to describe everyday emotions. 

I just want to add a warning here for anyone thinking of reading the book, it could be mildly triggering for some OCD / anxiety suffers. I want to encourage people to read it, but if you are suffering from these things, keep yourself safe, monitor your moods and thoughts and if you're in doubt about whether it's triggering you; put it down. This book is fantastic and very helpful, but it's more important to stay safe. 

One of the best things I found about the book is how the different types of therapy that Evie is going through are real techniques used with OCD suffers. Not only does Evie talk about things like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and mindfulness, but she also goes through some of the techniques, which could be really useful for people with OCD or other anxiety disorders who aren't ready to face technical books or explanations but are all right facing it through fiction. 

A review of this book would not be complete without talking about feminism. I loved the spinster club and everything about them. Feminism is definitely something that should be talked about more in YA (and in general) and this was a really good way to spotlight it. I'm really glad that it's going to be a trilogy, 

Monday, 7 September 2015

A Thousand Nights by E.K Johnston

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 336
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Released: 22nd of October 2015

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village, looking for a wife. 

When Lo-Melkhiin - a formidable king - arrives at her desert home, she knows that he will take her beautiful sister for a wife. Desperate to save her sister from certain death, she makes the ultimate sacrifice - leaving home and family behind to live with a fearful man. But it seems that a strange magic flows between her and Lo-Melkhiin, and night after night, she survives. Finding power in storytelling, the words she speaks are given strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. But she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king ...if only she can stop her heart from falling for a monster.

What I Have to Say 

I don't know much about the story that this is based on, but this didn't read like it was trying to fit into the footsteps of another story. It read as a fresh. beautifully lyrically written piece, showing the importance of love, family and faith. The main character sacrifices herself for her sister at the start and remains loyal to her throughout, while the sister in turn keeps her faith in her and does what she can to help. 

The setting of the story was beautifully written.  I enjoyed the rich descriptions of desert life, both in the desert Wadi and the King's Qasr. For me, it added to the fairy-tale quality of the reading, even though it was and in a lot of ways still is based on a real place. I don't know how much was fabricated and how much was based on research, but it sounded like a really vibrant and interesting culture. 

The magic was wonderful as well. Again, it had that same fairy-tale quality, the idea that stories become truth if enough people believe in them, how a person can be elevated to the level of a god simply by people putting their faith in them. But it did just feel a little contrived, but in the way that a lot of fairy-tales feel this way. 

This is a must read this year for any fairy-tale fans. 

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Silence is Goldfish by Annabel Pitcher

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: Orion's Children's Books
Released: 1st of October 2015

My name is Tess Turner - at least, that's what I've always been told.

I have a voice but it isn't mine. It used to say things so I'd fit in, to please my parents, to please my teachers. It used to tell the universe I was something I wasn't. It lied.

It never occurred to me that everyone else was lying too. But the words that really hurt weren't the lies: it was six hundred and seventeen words of truth that turned my world upside down.

Words scare me, the lies and the truth, so I decided to stop using them.

I am Pluto. Silent. Inaccessible. Billions of miles away from everything I thought I knew.

What I Have To Say 

This is a beautifully told story about identity and how important it is to children and teenagers. Tess was a wonderful character who desperately wanted to find out who she was after having been lied to by her parents for years. She's a character who's identity has always been tied up in what other people want from her, partly due to her controlling father, so it was really interesting to see how she changes due to what she's found out. 

I was rooting for Tess a lot. It's not often that I find a character in a book that I really get behind and want to succeed. I don't know what it was about Tess, whether it was her situation or how hurt she got by everything that happened, but there was just something about her character that made me really want her to succeed. 

Annabel Pitcher is such an amazing author. I fell in love with her writing when I first read My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece and I've definitely fallen in love again with Silence is Goldfish. 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 400
Publisher: Indigo
Released: TBA

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule the world. To commemorate their Great Victory over Britain and Russia, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor's ball.

Yael, who escaped from a death camp, has one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year's only female victor, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin's brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael's every move. But as Yael begins to get closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

What I Have to Say

A Shape-shifting heroine taking part in an intense bike race across several continents to assassinate Hitler?  What's not to like! Although it wasn't as good as the Walled City, which isn't surprising considering how much I loved the Walled City, I still really enjoyed Wolf by Wolf. 

Yael was a really interesting character, I loved the way her shifting affects her sense of identity especially as she can't remember her original way she looked. 

I'm surprised that the idea of super-powers developing from experimentation in Jewish concentration camps hasn't been used much before. It seems like an idea that is right there for people to use. It makes me happy that is right there for people to use. It makes me happy that it's been done so well.