Saturday, 24 December 2016

Lost Stars or What Lou Reed Taught Me About Love by Lisa Selin Davis

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 272
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 6th of October 2016 

I'll be your mirror, reflect what you are, in case you don't know ...

In the aftermath of her older sister's death, sixteen-year-old Carrie is taken under the wings of her sister's friends, and finds herself forsaking the science nerds of her former life and slipping into a daze of cheap beer and recreational drugs. Carrie - a talented guitar player and obsessive tracker of the coming Vira comet - is partying hard and fooling around with boys she doesn't even like, even though she's desperate for a boyfriend.

Her mother, enveloped by grief at the loss of her eldest child, has retreated to a monastery in the Catskills that requires a vow of silence. With her family splintered apart, Carrie is overcome at times by uncontrollable rages and her father decides to send her to a boot camp for wayward teens. Compounding the shame, and to her horror, she is forced to wear work boots and a hard hat - boy poison.

Then she meets Dean, a fellow musician and refugee from his own dark past. Throughout the summer Carrie learns more about Dean, about her sister's death, about her own family's past, and about well as about the Bee Gees, disco and the difference between wood and sheet-rock screws. Through love, music and her precious comet - and no small help from Lou Reed - Carrie fumbles her way through the complex web of tragedies and misunderstandings, to the heart of who she is and who she wants to be.

What I Have to Say 

This is a very touching picture of a family torn apart by grief. It took me a while to get into, as it does a lot with depressed characters as it's hard to connect with a character who is in a numb state of mind. But, as always with such characters, as I began to understand her and why she was the way she was, I connected with her a lot more. 

The really interesting bits happened when the family started to face their problems.While Carrie was just doing drugs and getting in trouble with her dad, it bored me a little, but after she met Dean and started to open up and confront things more it got much more interesting. 

I think there were some very intense emotions in this book and it looks at grief from multiple angles. It looks at relationships between family members both the anger and pain on the surface and the much deeper emotions that aren't expressed so easily. 

I wasn't blown away by this book, but by the end of it, I felt it was definitely worth reading. 

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

Thursday, 22 December 2016

A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 224
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Released: 8th September 2016 

Magical machines, wizards, witches, mysterious underworlds, a race against time - and two most magical girls.

Annabel Grey has been brought up to be a very proper Victorian young lady. But being 'proper' isn't always easy - especially when you can sometimes see marvellous (as well as terrifying) things in puddles. But parlour tricks such as these are nothing compared to the world that Annabel is about to enter... 

After the rather sudden departure of her mother, Annabel is sent to live with her aunts. They claim to be Shoreditch witches, and from a very old family line of them too. They're keen to introduce Annabel to their world of transformation, potions and flying broomsticks (which seem to have strong personalities of their own) but are horrified when Annabel announces not only does she not know any magic, young ladies shouldn't believe in such things. But before Annabel has time to decide whether she does or not, she is swept into an urgent quest. 

The trees of Highgate have been whispering to Kitty - an extraordinary urchin of a girl, who Annabel's aunts seem very fond of - and so have the fairies. They talk of a terrible, dark magic that wants to devour all of London. And of a most magical girl who might be able to stop it . . . 

What I Have to Say 

This book was the epitome of British quaintness in the most wonderful way. It takes the reader deep into the rules of society in Victorian London and introduces them to the stiff-upper-lip, while also showing a world that is set completely apart from that. It combines this beautiful world with magic and adventure with a useful technique of clearing one's mind and coping with grief and misery. It was beautiful both as a story and an imparting of useful coping strategies to the reader. 

But as wonderful as the setting and way of life was, it felt too rushed. There wasn't enough time to be introduced to the house of the Shoreditch witches before Annabel had to rush off with her broomstick to save the world. It felt like it should have been more than one book. I would have wanted a much more relaxed introduction to the magical world that Annabel is discovering before she had to go off to save the world, perhaps a duology with a cliff-hanger, just something longer 

Besides that, the characters were lively and interesting and I really enjoyed the way it all played out. This was a fantastic read.

My thanks go to Netgalley and Bonnier Zaffre for providing me with this copy for review. 

Monday, 19 December 2016

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320
Publisher: Penguin
Released: 12th of January 2016 

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora's brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life. 

With little more than the words "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

What I Have to Say 

This book was not as good as I was hoping it would be. I'm not sure if it was because my expectations were too high going in, as often is the case with books that are given a lot of hype before their release, but I think it also was the way the story was told. 

It wasn't that I didn't like the character, because even though she was quite child-like, as to be expected from someone with her condition, but I guess I feel that her entire story was centered around a boy, when the reveals later into the book showed a deeper story that I was far more interested in. I almost feel like the ending of the book should have been stretched out and made to be more of the bulk of the book, rather than her chasing a boy to the arctic. 

I hope there's a sequel because I feel that there's a story in there that was barely told and I would much prefer to read /that/ story than this one. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Penguin for providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Doubleday Childrens
Released: 6th of October 2016 

Clover Moon’s imagination is her best escape from a life of hardship in poverty-stricken Victorian London. When tragedy plunges her into a world of grief, Clover realizes that everything she loved about the place she called home is gone. Clover hears of a place she could run to, but where will she find the courage – and the chance – to break free? And could leaving her family be just what she needs to find a place that really feels like home?

What I Have to Say 

Ever since I was a little girl, Jacqueline Wilson's books have been a great comfort to me. I great up adoring The Lottie Project and Secrets, being taught about boys by the Girls in Love series. Saying that these books were a big part of my childhood is an understatement. So going back to them now brings me a lot of comfort. 

While I do find the stories a little more similar than I did when I was young (Wilson loves her stories of children going through hardship, running away to find a better life, often with writers), they are still great stories, stories that capture the imagination and make you feel for the characters through their struggles. 

While I've only recently been reading Wilson's stories of Victorian children, I feel that I can say with out a doubt that these are a good choice. Whether you're gifting them to a child, or looking for your next read, they are a great choice. 

My thanks go to Doubleday Childrens and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 15 December 2016

The Principle's Daughter by Russ Katz

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing 
Released: 12th of September 2016 

At just ten years old, playing in the lush trees, and starting mischief with the boys, Kim loved her family and friends, the sounds of the market, the tastes of the foods in Vietnam. She enjoyed life, and wished it would never change. What she didn't know was all that she loved was about to be torn from her happy life. "Wake up, wake up..." her sister yelled, shaking her. Looking out the window behind their bed, Viet Cong marched just a hundred meters from her home just outside Saigon. Pop pop pop pop gunshots from the AK-47s jolted their muscles as a full-scale attack on the nearby American Army base began. Their small home caught in the cross re, Kim's family spent the night of Tet, the 1968 New Year, in the safety of a small, dark makeshift cellar.

What I Have to Say 

This book was a really interesting look into the Vietnamese culture and how it was changed Vietnam and the lives of the Vietnamese people. The story was told in vivid detail that gave the reader a strong sense of Kim's personality and character.

I just didn't understand why the author felt the need to document her meeting with her at the start of the book. It felt unnecessary and awkward, the sort of thing that would have been much better in a forward or an author's note, though I did like the detail that was added at the end about what happened to everyone else Kim knew at the end of the book. 

In short, this is a beautiful way to find out more about the Vietnam war and how it affected the lives of the people of Vietnam. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Dog Ear Publishing for providing me with this copy for review. 

Monday, 12 December 2016

Trouble Makes a Comeback by Stephanie Tromly

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 1st of December 2016 

After a fall semester of fiascos: getting arrested, then kidnapped, then blown up in an explosion (all thanks to the weird but brilliant Philip Digby), Zoe Webster is looking forward to a quiet spring. Now that Digby has left town, she's finally built a regular high school life for herself. She's dating Miles, the alternate QB; she knows girls she considers friends; she's learning to enjoy being normal and semi-popular. Which of course is when Digby comes back: He's got a new lead on his missing sister and he needs Zoe's help.

Suddenly Zoe is tussling with a billionaire arch-villain, locking horns with armed goons, and digging into what makes the Digby family tick, even as she tries to navigate the confusing and emotionally fraught world of high school politics and locker-room drama. After all, it's hard to explain Digby to a boy like Miles, especially when Zoe isn't sure how she feels about Digby herself—or how he feels about her.

What I Have to Say 

This was a weird experience for me, because even though I remember loving the first book a lot, I just cannot remember what happened in it. This happens fairly often, let's be honest it's one of the hazards when reading as much as I do, but usually this isn't a problem when I read sequels and have forgotten the first book, because there's enough in the sequel to prompt my memory. But with this one, I just could not remember it at all. All I could remember was really liking it. 

But! That didn't effect my enjoyment of the book at all. I quickly got to know the characters again and remembered how much I liked them in the first book, because let's be honest, they have a fantastic dynamic. I loved the book so much despite not remembering anything. It had the same comfort and fun that I remember from the first book, with dramatic situations that only Digby could get them into. 

The thing I took most from this experience is that I like these books, despite how much I'd forgotten. It's possible that these books would be great ones to reread over and over because they're comfortable to sink into! There are definitely perks to having forgotten the first book. 

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

Saturday, 10 December 2016

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Synopsis (Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: Corgi Childrens 
Released: 3rd of Novermber 2016 

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true? 

What I Have to Say 

I wouldn't class myself as a romance fan as such, but I think I really like this sub genre of two people meeting each other and spending an intense period of time together, in this case a single day, and them coming out of it completely changed, both by each other and the things that have happened to them over the course of the day. I loved it in You Know Me Well by David Levithan and Nina Lacour, I loved it in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith and again I've loved it in The Sun is Also a Star. 

I think to pull of this genre, you have to have a pair of good strong main characters. Daniel and Natasha were both great characters. They both had interesting things in their lives that they are wanting to run away from. Natasha, I found especially interesting because she was facing deportment, which is not something I've read much about. They were also both from backgrounds which weren't my own, Natasha being Jamaican and Daniel being Korean, both of which makes them more interesting in my view. 

They just were such great characters with such great stories and also such  different opinions on things, which they're willing to discuss at length, cutely and over coffee with experiements into falling in love. 

It has a wonderful pair of characters, great conflict and science experiments involving staring into each other's eyes for four minutes. What more could you ask for? 

My thanks go to Corgi Childrens and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 8 December 2016

No Virgin by Anne Cassidy

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 192
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released: 3rd of November 2016 

My name is Stacey Woods and I was raped.

Stacey is the victim of a terrible sexual attack. She does not feel able to go to the police, or talk about it to anybody other than her best friend, Patrice. Patrice, outraged, when she cannot persuade her to go to the police, encourages Stacey to write everything down. This is Stacey's story.

What I Have to Say 

This was one of those books that is very hard to read because of the subject matter, while also being so compelling that you don't want to put it down. It showed Stacey's innocence and naivety as her story unfolds but it also shows how much she is overlooked in her life. It interested me a lot how mistreated she was by her sister and how much her talents were undervalued by those around her. 

In a lot of ways it was the simple story of a girl running away and getting into trouble. But it was the background of the story that fascinated me the most. It was the way Stacey was treated by her family and why she ran away that I liked reading about the most. 

This is a very sad story, but it was also very beautifully told with a lot to read into the background. I would love to read more about Stacey and what happens to her after she wrote her story down. 

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

Monday, 7 November 2016

What Light by Jay Asher

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 256
Publisher: Macmillan's Children's Books 
Released: 20th of October 2016 

Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon—it's a bucolic setting for a girl to grow up in, except that every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot for the season. So Sierra lives two lives: her life in Oregon and her life at Christmas. And leaving one always means missing the other. 

Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

By reputation, Caleb is not your perfect guy: years ago, he made an enormous mistake and has been paying for it ever since. But Sierra sees beyond Caleb's past and becomes determined to help him find forgiveness and, maybe, redemption. As disapproval, misconceptions, and suspicions swirl around them, Caleb and Sierra discover the one thing that transcends all else: true love.

What I Have to Say 

I really want to say that this is a beautiful, heart-warming book to get you in the mood for Christmas, but that would be inaccurate. I think what it really is, is a beautiful book that feels heart-warming and will get you in the mood for Christmas but actually has a lot of deep and painful issues involved at the heart of it. 

The so adorable love story, full of Christmas, pine trees and cheap Peppermint Mochas overshadows the sad part of the book effectively without taking away the importance of those issues. It's such a great way of showing the "love conquers all" trope, but showing it in a real way. Because even though love can transcend the issues, the issues are still there and will effect things, whether they come externally or internally. It's about overcoming the issues rather than hiding from them in "true love". 

This book will may make you want to fall in love and go to live on a Christmas Tree farm, but it will also put you really in the Christmas mood. 

My thanks go to Macmillan for providing me with this copy to review. 

Monday, 31 October 2016

Reckless: The Petrified Flesh by Cornelia Funke

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 336
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Released: 11th of October 2016 (first published November 2010)

Ever since Jacob Reckless was a child, he has been escaping to a hidden world through a portal in his father's abandoned study. Over the years, he has made a name for himself as a finder of enchanted items and buried secrets. He's also made many enemies and allies — most important, Fox, a beautiful shape-shifting vixen whom Jacob cares for more than he lets on.

But life in this other world is about to change. Tragedy strikes when Jacob's younger brother, Will, follows him through the portal. Brutally attacked, Will is infected with a curse that is quickly transforming him into a Goyl — a ruthless killing machine, with skin made of stone.

Jacob is prepared to fight to save his brother, but in a land built on trickery and lies, Jacob will need all the wit, courage, and reckless spirit he can summon to reverse the dark spell — before it's too late.

What I Have to Say 

Reading this, I can kind of see why this didn't take off the first time it was released. I know there were bits added that were meant to improve it, so I don't know how the original book was, but I have to say a lot of the start of it really bored me. 

It took so long to get into the main plot that I probably would have put it down if I didn't have to review it and it wasn't Cornelia Funke. It was beautiful writing and an interesting concept, but there was just nothing to grab me and pull me in to the story. Other than the fairy tale theme, which, to be honest, I didn't really take in until later on when I was more invested, it just felt like any other fantasy book on the market. 

It picked up as I got into it, but probably not enough for me to read on. If the next book is put up on Netgalley then I might read it and review it, but I can't see myself picking it up in a bookshop. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Pushkin Press for providing me with this copy for review. 

Monday, 24 October 2016

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 272
Publisher: Simon & Schuster 
Released: 1st of November 2016

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

What I Have to Say

Normally I get so bored by this kind of book. And I was a little at the start, but from the point when she starts her career of dog theft, I somehow got endeared to her and started to get really invested in her journey towards forgiving herself for what happened. 

I think it was mostly the dogs, but the love of chinese food and the kindness that Shelby showed through the book both to animals and humans. It makes makes her so lovable that the reader starts to really want her to get the life she deserves. 

I would have liked it if the plot had been more action based than just a redemption tale, but I liked it a lot and it really surprised me. 

My thanks go to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Thin Air by Michelle Paver

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 288
Publisher: Orion 
Released: 6th of October 2016 

In 1935, young medic Stephen Pearce travels to India to join an expedition with his brother, Kits. The elite team of five will climb Kangchenjunga, the world's third highest mountain and one of mountaineering's biggest killers. No one has scaled it before, and they are, quite literally, following in the footsteps of one of the most famous mountain disasters of all time - the 1907 Lyell Expedition.

Five men lost their lives back then, overcome by the atrocious weather, misfortune and 'mountain sickness' at such high altitudes. Lyell became a classic British hero when he published his memoir, Bloody, But Unbowed, which regaled his heroism in the face of extreme odds. It is this book that will guide this new group to get to the very top.

As the team prepare for the epic climb, Pearce's unease about the expedition deepens. The only other survivor of the 1907 expedition, Charles Tennant, warns him off. He hints of dark things ahead and tells Pearce that, while five men lost their lives on the mountain, only four were laid to rest.

But Pearce is determined to go ahead and complete something that he has dreamed of his entire life. As they get higher and higher, and the oxygen levels drop, he starts to see dark things out of the corners of his eyes. As macabre mementoes of the earlier climbers turn up on the trail, Stephen starts to suspect that Charles Lyell's account of the tragedy was perhaps not the full story... 

What I Have To Say 

This book terrified the life out of me. I really need to stop reading ghost stories, especially when I'm doing most of my reading at night with all the lights out, but when they come from one of my favourite authors, how can I resist? 

Mountaineering is not something I'm interested in, so I wasn't sure whether it would take me some time to get into this book. But I should have trusted Michelle Paver more, because she made even the many technical parts of the book thrilling and a joy to read. The   actual mechanics of mountain climbing were woven in by the superstitions and culture of the native people to give enough foreshadowing to take the reader smoothly to the main action of the plot. 

And the ghostly happens on the mountain themselves were worth the build up. As I said, they were terrifying. The mountain itself and the loneliness and isolation that was described in the book due to the atmosphere and the snow added to this and made it the perfect setting. 

My thanks go to Orion and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review. 

Monday, 17 October 2016

The Maskmaker's Daughter by Holly Webb

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 132
Publisher: Orchard Books 
Released: 6th of October 2016 

Colette lives with her mother, making beautiful dresses for the rich women of Venice. She's never known her father, and her mother won't speak of him - but Colette's embroidery moves and dances, and she's sure that there's magic in her blood ...

And then Colette discovers the truth: her father is a famous maskmaker and a powerful magician. But when he's ordered to create a mask that will bend others to its will, the magic becomes too strong for him to resist. Can Colette, with the help of a talking alley cat called Max, save him?

What I Have to Say 

I had no idea this was the third in a series until about three seconds ago, so if you want to start this series, don't worry about just diving straight in. And I think you should try this series. Anyone who likes interesting settings and magic. I can't say about the other books in the series, but this one was a beautiful. 

I think part of it is how much I like Venice as a setting. It's such a magically city to begin with and adding in magic too that, especially something as interesting as moving embroidery is a brilliant way to making it feel even more, well magical. It was made a truly beautiful world. 

The characters were really interesting as well. I liked Colette and the way she was so ready to run away and make a new life for herself. And Max. Who couldn't like Max? 

Saturday, 15 October 2016

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 437
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books UK
Released: 30th of August 2016 

New York City as you’ve never seen it before. A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky. A glittering vision of the future, where anything is possible—if you want it enough.

Welcome to Manhattan, 2118.

A hundred years in the future, New York is a city of innovation and dreams. But people never change: everyone here wants something…and everyone has something to lose.

Leda Cole’s flawless exterior belies a secret addiction—to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson’s beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylin Myers’s job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world—and a romance—she never imagined…but will her new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone. But when he’s hired to spy by an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect. The girl who seems to have it all—yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

What I Have to Say 

I wasn't sure at all if I would like this book. Privileged rich kids being awful to each other is not my idea of a good story, but this wasn't like this at all. Partly because it wasn't just rich kids. There were main characters from several different levels of the tower, both rich one at the top and less privileged ones at the bottom. It was a good variety of perspectives and it made it much better than I thought it might be. 

The tower was really fascinating. The level of privilege was only the start. There was so much information woven into the story about the layout and way that the tower worked in a way that left me with so many questions. I'm looking forward to the next book in order to find out more about how the society works. 

The only thing that got to me was the sibling romance. It always gets to me. It's just one of my pet peeves. I know that this sort of relationship happens and it can get really complicated, especially in situations like this where adoption is involved. But for me it just puts me off a book. 

Really though, I was happily surprised by this book. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel too! I cannot wait to see what happens. 

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Risuko by David Kudler

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 230 
Publisher: Stillpoint Digital Press 
Released: 15th of June 2016 

Can one girl win a war?

My name is Kano Murasaki, but most people call me Risuko. Squirrel.

I am from Serenity Province, though I was not born there.

My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack, my family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be a very special kind of woman.

All I want to do is climb.

My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me Squirrel.


Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan -- or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems. 

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.

Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn't possibly have the power to change the outcome. Or could she?

What I Have to Say 

This book could have been really good if it had been fine tuned a little more. I enjoyed parts of it, but the writing just felt slightly clumsy. But I liked the setting and the main character Risuko was smart and easy to like. Some of the other characters were good too. I liked all the scenes in the kitchen with the cook. 

I think part of it though was that there was this whole mystery as to what they were training for, but because I read a lot of books like this, I know what a Kunoichi is, so it wasn't really much of a surprise to me when they revealed what it was. 

The whole thing just wasn't written well. It could have way better than it was if more time had been put into polishing it. 

Monday, 10 October 2016

As I Descended by Robin Talley

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: Mira Ink 
Released: 6th of September 2016 

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line.

What I Have to Say 

I think Robin Talley is one of my new favourite authors. I was gripped completely by Lies We Tell Ourselves and adored it completely. As I Descended was just as good. I was interested to see the interpretation of Macbeth, to see what take Talley would use. I think her beautiful writing combined with the spooky atmosphere of the book, made something wonderful. 

I wasn't sure at first whether I would like the switch that Talley made, from the three witches of Macbeth to Ouija boards and haunted lakes, but I found it really helped to make the atmosphere of the book. 

As perfect as it was and as beautiful  Lily and Maria were in the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, I wasn't as keen on the ending. I felt it didn't follow as closely to the play as it did. I may be biased, because Talley didn't reference the part I was most interested to see, the descent into madness of Lady Macbeth (although don't worry, there is plenty other madness in this book). I understand that it didn't fit so well into the book though, so I forgive it. I just would have liked more parallels. 

Despite that tiny point against it, I really did love this book. I would recommend it to everyone, it was fantastic. 

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 272
Publisher: Orion Children's Books 
Released: 6th of October 2016 

Anapra is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the Mexican city of Juarez - twenty metres outside town lies a fence, and beyond it, America - the dangerous goal of many a migrant. Faustino is one such trying to escape from the gang he's been working for. He's dipped into a pile of dollars he was supposed to be hiding and now he's on the run. He and his friend, Arturo, have only 36 hours to replace the missing money, or they're as good as dead.

Watching over them is Saint Death. Saint Death (or Santissima Muerte) - she of pure bone and charcoal-black eye, she of absolute loyalty and neutral morality, holy patron to rich and poor, to prostitute and narco-lord, criminal and police-chief. A folk saint, a rebel angel, a sinister guardian. 

What I Have to Say 

This wasn't a book for me. Sedgwick lately has been getting very arty in his books, which in this book,  I didn't find too bad. It's the grimness in this book that I think put me off. I'm not that interested in drugs and gangs anyway, but there was just no optimism in this book. Even before Arturo turned up and the plot started there was no hope there at all. 

Once the plot started it got a little better, because there was something happening other than people being miserable, but there was just something that held me back and stopped me from getting into it fully. 

This just really wasn't the book for me, but it could really easily be a great book for someone else. 

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Dear Charlie by N.D Gomes

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 222
Publisher: Mira Ink 
Released: 20th of October 2016 

Death should never meet the young. But it did. Thanks to my brother, death made fourteen new friends that day. Maybe even fifteen, if you count Charlie.

At sixteen, Sam Macmillan is supposed to be thinking about girls, homework and his upcoming application to music college, not picking up the pieces after the school shooting that his brother Charlie committed.

Yet as Sam desperately tries to hang on to the memories he has of his brother, the media storm surrounding their family threatens to destroy everything. And Sam has to question all he thought he knew about life, death, right and wrong. 

What I Have to Say 

This is another book that I've found a bit too depressing for me. I don't really want to put down the book as bad because of it. It's about grief and grief is not a happy subject. But the books that I like are the ones that touch you. The emotions reach into you and elicit a response from the reader. This book just didn't do that. 

That's not to say I didn't emphasise with the characters. Sam's journey to understand his brother's death and find a way to grieve when the town around him won't let him was something that I could really understand. It really shows well the aftermath of such an event from an angle that hasn't been looked at before, with the family having to cope with the death of the son alongside the guilt of the terrible thing he did. 

It was a good book, I think. It just fell flat for me. 

Monday, 3 October 2016

A Whisper of Horse by Zillah Bethell

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 368
Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Released: 11th of August 2016 

Serendipity loves horses. No-one in Lahn Dan has ever seen one, apparently they died out before the Gases - but there are statues of them around the city, paintings and drawings too if you know where to look. And there's the little lost wooden horse Mama gave Serendipity when she was little. 

When Mama dies, Seren is taken under the wing of Professor Nimbus, a storyteller. Nimbus is kind and knowledgable, but Seren has started to question the Minister's rule and life beyond the high, impenetrable Emm Twenty-Five wall. Hidden among Mama's few possessions was a map which suggests there is life outside of Lahn Dahn, and a place where horses live and roam freely - out beyond the wall and the Minister's grip. So, with the help of a trader boy called Tab and his little dog Mouse, Serendipity heads into the unknown, searching for the beautiful creatures she's always dreamed of. But the Minister is behind them, determined to hunt her down. . . 

What I Have to Say 

I kind of wanted to see more of this world than we did. I loved Seren's journey to find the horses and how she had to travel through places with people surviving in different ways, but through it all, I was so interesting in Lahn Dahn. I wanted to know more about how things changed from our world to this so controlled society being told lies about how there's no one left outside and they can't leave the city. 

The society was so interesting, how it was divided into these three castes that were vastly different from a financial standpoint. But again, I wanted to know why they were given the names they did. How exactly did it get to the point where the very rich started hoarding all the technology and hoarding themselves away. 

The language both annoyed me and fascinated me. One of my biggest pet peeves in books is when they change names to things like Lahn Dahn to make it such an obvious future setting. But again, I found myself wondering how they got distorted, what process the names went through to be changed in this way. 

So all in all, this book was rather frustrating. It was a lovely story about a girl's search for horses and trying to escape the people trying to track her down and drag her back to Lahn Dahn, but I just wanted so much more information than there was on offer. 

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Haunt Me by Liz Kessler

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400 
Publisher: Orion Children's Books 
Released: 6th of October 2016 

Joe wakes up from a deep sleep to see his family leave in a removals van. Where they've gone, he has no idea. Erin moves house and instantly feels at home in her new room. Even if it appears she isn't the only one living in it. Bit by bit, Erin and Joe discover that they have somehow found a way across the ultimate divide - life and death. Bound by their backgrounds, a love of poetry and their growing feelings for each other, they are determined to find a way to be together.

Joe's brother, Olly, never cared much for poetry. He was always too busy being king of the school - but that all changed when Joe died. And when an encounter in the school corridor brings him face to face with Erin, he realises how different things really are - including the kind of girl he falls for.

Two brothers. Two choices. Will Erin's decision destroy her completely, or can she save herself before she is lost forever?

What I Have to Say 

This was such a great read. I've read a fair amount of paranormal romance, but I've never read one like this. I'm not sure whether that's because there was a gap in the market or if I just hadn't read the right books, but I have to say that I needed this book in my life even if I didn't know it yet. 

Not only was it a really interesting concept, but the writing was beautiful. It was easy to fall into the voices of the three characters and sympathize with each of them. Erin especially was a joy to read. She had a personality that felt familiar and very real. 

The story was beautiful, a touching story of two damaged people trying to recover and heal and one dead boy, finding love amongst the living. It was dramatic, heartbreaking and just beautiful, especially the ending. 

I recommend this to anyone who likes a little bit of paranormal fiction. 

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 4th of October 2016 

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.
Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland's brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.

What I Have to Say 

I like this new thing of taking the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope and turning it into a very sick girl who a boy has over-romaticised, leading to a relationship that inevitably crumbles leaving a disaster zone in it's wake. 

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) trope and the mentally ill girl who is magically made better by a boys love, have always been tropes that are problematic in YA. Having a boyfriend has never healed a girls health problems and girls aren't just mysterious, quirky toys for boys to date. So naturally having these books written in response to these tropes is fantastic. I especially like the use of Kintsugi, the Japanese art form of repairing things with gold as a metaphor for Henry's fascination with broken things and idolization of Grace. 

Alongside being an excellent response to these issues, Our Chemical Hearts was also a really great story. The characters, especially Henry's two friends, felt real and easy to relate to. They had great humour and it was fun to read. 


Monday, 12 September 2016

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 384
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Released: 6th of October 2016 

Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn't belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door – and Snow knows that she has to leave …

She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she's destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate

What I Have to Say 

I don't like hating books. I don't like talking about hating books, I just don't like it. Over the years of doing this blog, I've slowly been better about doing reviews for books I don't like. But I still come to them feeling nervous and upset about writing these reviews. So you know I really mean it when I say I just did not like this book at all. It was hard to read and I put it down a couple of times. 

The first thing that bugged me was the institute that Snow was in. They called it an Asylum. Which isn't a term used any more outside the disused and abandoned asylums found in horror films. That was strike one. 

Strike two was the way Snow was put into the "asylum". Now I've been through my fair share of therapy appointments. I know something about the way the system works even if I haven't been in a mental health hospital myself and I just find it impossible to believe that they were dump a six-year-old girl into a hospital just for trying to walk through a mirror. They'd give her a lot of therapy and make sure there are no mirrors in reach, but putting her straight into a mental hospital!? And even if they had, Snow is clearly very recovered from her mirror walking through incident. She doesn't believe that people can walk through mirrors and all the issues that she has now seem to be from growing up in a mental hospital. Even with certain things being revealed at the end of the book and the fantasy elements, I just can't get over how much this put me off the book. 

And finally my last complaint about the book. There are a grand total of 3 boys in this book. All three are in love with Snow. And to all three, Snow shows some sort of interest in back. I have been sick of love triangles for a long time. Adding a third boy to the mix does not improve this. 

I wish I could say some about this book that wasn't negative. I really do. And I honestly hope that the author never reads this review. But this is the way I feel. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 10 September 2016

I'll Be Home For Christmas (anthology)

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Released: 22nd of September 2016 

The UK's top Young Adult authors join together in this collection of new stories and poems on the theme of home. Contributors include: Tom Becker, Holly Bourne, Sita Brahmachari, Kevin Brooks, Melvin Burgess, Katy Cannon , Cat Clarke, Juno Dawson, Julie Mayhew, Non Pratt, Marcus Sedgwick, Lisa Williamson and Benjamin Zephaniah. GBP1 from the sale of every book will be donated to Crisis, the national homelessness charity. To find out more about Crisis, see 

What I Have to Say 

This book was beautiful and hard to read in places because of the nature of the subject matter. Some of these stories are tragic, showing teens living on the streets or with really homophobic parents. Other are beautiful and show that love doesn't care who you are or who you love. And then there was the surprise ghost story that I accidentally read in the middle of the night and didn't manage to sleep after. 

As with most anthologies there were some stories that I liked and some that I didn't, but with this one, I think it was only one or two that I didn't like. Most of the stories were were really good. And with such great names involved, that's only to be expected! 

This book truly highlights what it means to be a teenager and the struggles that they face in today's society. Also, buying this book will give a donation to Crisis and will help people living on the streets, so it's really worth it. 

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

Thursday, 8 September 2016

The Deviants by CJ Skuse

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320 
Publisher: Mira Ink 
Released: October 2016 

When you set out for revenge, dig two graves

Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.

Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.

When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?

Trigger Warnings (highlight to read) Rape, Child Abuse 

What I Have to Say 

It took me a while to get into this book, but the middle and the end were fantastic. It was very unclear from the start where it was going to go. It could have gone anywhere and I wasn't sure if I was going to like where it ended up. But as I got into it and they started getting their revenge, I really started to get into it. 

The ending was shocking and a complete surprise. I didn't see it coming at all, but it felt like the right end even if it may not have been the end that people may have wanted. It fitted neatly into the dark nature of the book and I felt it was right even if it was only a little optimistic

I have to say though, there are a lot of books like this cropping up where the twist is something that could be very triggering towards certain people, but they have no warning at all that it's coming. As much as the book is improved by the surprise factor of the twist, I do worry about people getting triggered by this sort of thing. 

Even so, this was a really great book. It may be a little slow to start but it's worth the read. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and MiraINK for providing me with this copy for review. 

Monday, 5 September 2016

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Synopsis (from Goodread

Pages: 306
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Released: 5th May 2016 

As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

What I Have to Say 

This was awful. I don't often say this, but I honestly feel completely cheated by this. It wasn't what the blurb promised at all. The characters showed barely any similarities with their counterparts in the original story and most of the time I couldn't really find much sympathy with Dinah because she just felt spineless and spent most of her time moping while trying to suck up to her father. I feel she could have done something more to help herself. 

I initially liked the idea of the Mad Hatter being Dinah's little brother. It seemed like and interesting idea and could have really worked out. Except that the "madness" he showed completely lacked the whimsy of the original character or the realities of mental health disorders. It felt like an insulting caricature of madness made by someone who has a medieval idea of what madness is. 
Basically this was a book that tried to show a darker side of Alice in Wonderland and got too far away from the original text. It was very short, but reading it honestly dragged because I wasn't enjoying a word of it. 

I really wish that I could have enjoyed this more, but the fact is, I just didn't. 

My thanks go to Harper Collins and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Cell 7 by Kerry Drewery

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 22nd of September 2016 

Should she live or die? You decide 

An adored celebrity has been killed. Sixteen-year-old Martha Honeydew was found holding a gun, standing over the body.

Now Justice must prevail.

The general public will decide whether Martha is innocent or guilty by viewing daily episodes of the hugely popular TV show Death is Justice, the only TV show that gives the power of life and death decisions - all for the price of a phone call.

Martha has admitted to the crime. But is she guilty? Or is reality sometimes more complicated than the images we are shown on TV?

What I Have to Say 

Just from the concept, I knew this book would be good. It's a little out there. Hopefully, not the sort of thing that would come out of our own society. But it still feels very believable. This concept that is dreadful and terrible and anyone could see is a completely insane idea is so grounded in the world that Drewery has created that you can see how the society has been indoctrinated into believing that this is the way things should be. 

It was really easy to sympathize with Martha too. To feel her suffering as she goes through the torture of each cell as her human rights are being stripped away and she suffers through horrors that no one should ever have to go through. Drewery makes it so that even though it's fiction, the reader feels angry at the society. The hypocritical nature of those in charge and the presenters on the TV show just added to this. 

I loved the bits of the book that were in transcript format as well.  It added to the atmosphere at the book and it made the bits where the presenters were cutting across people in order to hide the truth more effective because you could really see where they were cutting in. 

I've been hearing so many people talking about this book and saying how great it is, but I want to add my voice to the mix. This book is amazing and everyone should read it.