Thursday, 28 January 2016

The November Criminals by Sam Munson

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 258
Publisher: Atom
Released: 5th of November 2015

For a high school senior, Addison Schacht has a lot of preoccupations. Like getting into college. Selling drugs to his classmates. His complicated relationship with his best friend (NOT his girlfriend) Digger. And he's just added another to the list: the murder of his classmate Kevin Broadus, and his own absurd, obsessive plan to investigate the death. When presented with an essay question on his application to the University of Chicago—What are your best and worst qualities?—Addison finds himself provoked into giving his final, unapologetic say about all of the above and more.

What I Have to Say 

This book wasn't really for me. It was a good story and I did like some of the philosophical musings that Addison went into, despite the fact that they were a little unnecessary. It was the voice, I think that I really liked. The educated feel of it, despite the way that he talked about things. Although, I don't normally like people who look down on people who aren't as educated as them, I just found it an easy voice to get into. It was easy to get into the character's head. 

It was one of those books that just went too far to be crass. It's like the author wants us to hate the character, which is fine... but in this case, what they were doing felt a bit obvious. 

If you like this kind of book, then that's okay, it just wasn't my kind of thing. 

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 352
Publisher: Amulet Books
Released: 5th of January 2016

Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings find escape from their constrained lives via their rich imaginations. The glittering world of Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy world of Gondal literallycome to life under their pens, offering the sort of romance and intrigue missing from their isolated parsonage home. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as the characters they have created—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

What I Have to Say 

This book was a very slow start. I have to say, I spent most of the book wondering where it was going and how much knowledge the author had of the Brontës in order to write them. I don't have much knowledge of them other than their books, so I can't really say, but I would be interested to know what facts were real and what was made up.

As I said, it took a long time to pick up speed, but by the end I got into it quite a bit. I think at the start, it was so unclear where it was going. As it started to pick up, though I really got into it. I loved the ending, how their world began to change and the characters of the novels they eventually went on to write began to emerge from it.

I think I went into it thinking that I would see more of a world that I recognized, without realising that I wouldn't. As the novels I knew began to emerge, with characters such as Heathcliff starting to emerge from the story, it became much easier to enjoy.

I think this would be good for fans of the Brontës, though it may be better to read more than just a couple of books.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 496
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 27th of October 2015 

Josephine Montfort is from one of New York's oldest, most respected, and wealthiest families. Like most well-off girls of the era her future looks set—after a finishing school education, she will be favourably married off to a handsome wealthy gentleman. But Jo wants a more meaningful and exciting life: she wants to be an investigative journalist like her heroine Nellie Bly.

But when Jo's father dies after an alleged accident, she begins to investigate his death with the help of a young reporter, Eddie Gallagher. It quickly becomes clear he was murdered, and in their race against time to discover the culprit and his motive, Jo and Eddie find themselves not only battling dark characters of the violent and gritty streets of New York, but also their growing feelings for each other.

What I Have to See 

This was a wonderful read. I adored it, from the first page until the last, I loved it. Jo was a wonderful character, but then I am biased towards girls in period books that want to break from the confines of the expectations put upon them. Girls doing things such as visiting morgues without an escort,  that would be completely frowned upon in polite society is always a good concept for a story. 

Jo and Eddie were great together as well. Jo with her ambitions to become the new Nellie Bly and Eddie trying to persuade her out of doing all the dangerous things she does, but instead being forced to go along to look after her, because Jo is far, far too stubborn to let anyone talk her out of the things she wants to do. 

The book was also tense and mysterious, full of tension and suspense, but really Jo was the thing that did it for me. I really hope that the author writes more books about her, because I need to see more from her. 

Monday, 18 January 2016

How Not To Disappear by Clare Furniss

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 400
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Released:  31st of December 2015

Hattie's summer isn't going as planned. Her two best friends have abandoned her: Reuben has run off to Europe to "find himself" and Kat's in Edinburgh with her new girlfriend. Meanwhile Hattie is stuck babysitting her twin siblings and dealing with endless drama around her mum's wedding.

Oh, and she's also just discovered that she's pregnant with Reuben's baby...

Then Gloria, Hattie's great-aunt who no one previously knew even existed comes crashing into her life. Gloria's fiercely independent, rather too fond of a gin sling and is in the early stages of dementia.

Together the two of them set out on a road trip of self-discovery – Gloria to finally confront the secrets of her past before they are wiped from her memory forever and Hattie to face the hard choices that will determine her future.

What I Have to Say 

This book had me sobbing. I loved it so much. I think that having two story lines, one past, one present, is one of my favourite styles of writing, because you get two interlocking stories that both have their own excitement and tension. There were so many mysteries and cliff hangers created by Gloria's telling of her story as well. It kept me wanting to read on and find out the whole story. 

I adored Gloria so much. She was just the kind of quirky, bad tempered old woman that you love to read about and are so glad not to have in your family. It didn't take me as long as Hattie to warm to her and her very specific way of living. 

Gloria's story was so sad, and drawing parallels between it and Hattie's story was a great way to show how hard it was for a young woman getting pregnant in the 50s compared to now. It showed how many more options, young mothers have these days and it was really nice to see Hattie's reaction to it. 

This book really touched me and I hope that you'll all read it and enjoy it as much as I did. 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Lily and the Christmas Wish by Keris Stainton

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 160 
Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Released: 5th of November 2015

When a town's Christmas wishes get mixed-up, can one little girl and her dog put them right? 

The little town of Pinewood can't wait for Christmas this year. They're going to celebrate by putting up a giant Christmas tree in the town square, and asking all the townspeople to hang a Christmas wish on its branches. Everyone is feeling very festive, including nine-year-old Lily - although she's not sure she believes in wishes. Then a very strange storm blows in, scattering all the wishes...and Lily wakes up the next morning to a bit of a surprise. Bug, her adorable pug puppy, can talk! It's magic - and a wish come true! But it's not Lily's wish...

Lily and her little brother James soon discover that something must have happened during the storm - the town's wishes have been granted, but to all the wrong people! Lily, James and Bug must work out which wish belongs to who, and sort everything out before Christmas Eve - otherwise no one will get what they want for Christmas. 

What I Have to Say 

This was such a cute story and was a really good read for the holiday season. It may be a little late for the Christmas season, but it'll still be great to curl up and read in front of the fire, especially if we get snow. 

Set against the backdrop of a struggling marriage, Lily and her family see a wide range of quirky wishes, from "I wish my dog could talk" to "I wish I didn't have to go to school". It's fun to see what kinds of wishes people have made and who they belong to, as Lily, her brother and her dog reunite the owners with their wishes. 

This book was a little young for me, but I think that's part of the reason I enjoyed it so much. It's nice to kick back and read a story about a girl and her talking dog, full of Christmas spirit. It still covers serious issues, but it does that in a more positive light than in a lot of older books. It was a very relaxing read. 

Even though Christmas is over, I still strongly recommend it for a cosy winter mood. 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Changers: Drew by T. Cooper & Allison Glock-Cooper

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 288
Publishers: Atom 
Released: 12th of January 2016 

The Cheerleader, The Nerd, The Jock, The Freak. What if you had to be all four?

Changers book one: DREW opens on the eve of Ethan Miller's freshman year of high school in a brand-new town. He's finally sporting a haircut he doesn't hate, has grown two inches since middle school, and can't wait to try out for the soccer team. At last, everything is looking up in life.

Until the next morning. When Ethan awakens as a girl.

Ethan is a Changer, a little-known, ancient race of humans who live out each of their four years of high school as a different person. After graduation, Changers choose which version of themselves they will be forever - and no, they cannot go back to who they were before the changes began.

Ethan must now live as Drew Bohner - a petite blonde with an unfortunate last name - and navigate the treacherous waters of freshman year while also following the rules: Never tell anyone what you are. Never disobey the Changers Council. And never, ever fall in love with another Changer. Oh, and Drew also has to battle a creepy underground syndicate called 'Abiders' (as well as the sadistic school queen bee, Chloe). And she can't even confide in her best friend Audrey, who can never know the real her, without risking both of their lives.

What I Have to Say 

This book was very different from what I expected, in a good way. I expected it to be an interesting look at a boy who changes into a girl overnight, looking into the difficulties of adjusting to that. What it actually is, is a deep intense look into issues such as male privilege and the experiences other people have 

I was surprised by how feminist this book came across. But the change that Ethan/Drew had to go through, from a boy to all the expectations and social judgement that a girl gets in high school? It really highlights how many more expectations there are on females than males.

 Even through reading through all of this, I didn't expect the scene at the party, so I feel this needs a trigger warning but it's a spoiler, so highlight to read: There is attempted rape in this book. For such an intense issue, I felt this was treated respectfully and sensitively, though I feel that I would have like to see more of how Drew coped in the aftermath. 

I cannot wait for the next book in this series. I have so many questions and can't wait to see who Drew ends up as next. 

Monday, 11 January 2016

Gathering Voices by Kris Humphrey

Synopsis (from Netgalley

Pages: 224
Publisher; Stripes Publishing
Released: 7th of January 2016 

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. 
The war against the shape-shifting Narlaw is raging. Mika and her Arctic fox companion, Star, must travel from their distant mountain home to join Dawn and the other Whisperers at the palace. The journey is fraught with danger and the outlook for the kingdom of Meridina is bleak, but Mika has discovered a gift that might just change their fortunes. Could she hold the key to defeating the Narlaw?

What I Have to Say 

I'm really enjoying this series. It's cute and the power to talk to animals has been a thing I have loved reading about since childhood. But there are too many Whisperers. Every book is introducing more and more and though I really love Mika and Star, I'm finding that I miss some of the Whisperers from the earlier books.  The only one we've gone back to in this book is Dawn and as much as I like her, I find myself wondering why they don't mention all the other Whisperers that are knocking about in the palace. 

I'm also wanting to know more about the setting. There seem to be so many little cultures with slight differences that we just don't see for that long because the characters from that part of the story are all leaving their homes. In the last book Tuanne was the most interesting part, because her way of life was so different and she was having to adapt. We need more of that. 

I seem to have only talked about problems in this review, but I really am loving the series. I love the characters and their companions and their fight against the Narlaw. I just want more of it. More detail, more explanations of the culture. Just more. 

Saturday, 9 January 2016

This Raging Light by Estelle Laure

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 312
Publisher: Orchard Books 
Released: 14th January 2016

How is it that one day Digby was my best friend's cute twin brother, and then the next he stole air, gave jitters, twisted my insides up?

And with Mom gone, bills to pay and Wren to look after... Why does the best thing happen at the worst time?

What I Have to Say 

This is not a book for people who don't like a good cry, It's a touching story about abandonment and children growing up too fast in order to care for their siblings. 

There's a lot of emotions in this book, from Lucille, Wren and their friends as they try to survive with their parents gone, without letting anyone find out they're on their own. To start off there's a strong bond, both between the sisters and their friends and it's interesting to see how those relationships are strained as the pressure mounts up some growing weaker and others growing stronger. 

I felt this was a really interesting and sensitive look at children becoming carers from their siblings because of neglectful or sick parents (or in this case both). I only know a little of the subject matter, but I felt it was written with compassion and realism. 

Be prepared for the ending though, because it is intense. 

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Faceless by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Chicken House
Released: 7th of January 2016

When Maisie is struck by lightning, her face is partially destroyed. She's lucky enough to get a face transplant, but how do you live your life when you can't even recognize yourself anymore? She was a runner, a girlfriend, a good student ...a normal girl. Now, after a single freak accident, all that has changed. As Maisie discovers how much her looks did and didn't shape her relationship to the world, she has to redefine her own identity, and figure out what 'lucky' really means.

What I Have to Say 

The plot of this book caught me the moment I heard of it. It sounded like a really interesting thing to explore so I'm really glad that it didn't disappoint me. 

I can't say anything for the accuracy of it, since I haven't faced many of the issues that the character faces in the book. But it did feel really accurate and from the terminology and details used in the book, it certainly seemed like the author had done her research. 

I think the thing that interested me the most in this book was the idea of identity and change that was looked at. How through her surgery Maisie loses her sense of identity and has to find out who she is post-accident. It's something that everyone can identify with.

This is definitely a thought-provoking book and a really well written one.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Moth Girls by Anne Cassidy

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 304
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released: 7th of January 2016

Helplessly drawn like moths to the light, two girls go missing in an evocative and gripping tale . . .

They called them the Moth Girls because they were attracted to the house. They were drawn to it. Or at least that is what is written in the newspapers that Mandy reads on the anniversary of when her two best friends went missing. Five years have passed since Petra and Tina were determined to explore the dilapidated house on Princess Street. But what started off as a dare ended with the two girls vanishing. As Mandy's memories of the disappearance of her two friends are ignited once again, disturbing details will resurface in her mind.

What I Have To Say 

Anne Cassidy writes great stories. Her plots keep me wanting to read on and know what happens next, I love the fact that with Moth Girls, it was really hard to guess what had happened to the two girls. 

 I do find her writing style a bit simplistic though. With Looking For JJ, I found I didn't notice it so much and I think that the fact that a lot of the story was told through the point of a young child's point of view helped somewhat. But with Moth Girls, even the 12-year- old flashbacks felt a little off-putting, 

It didn't stop me enjoying the story too much though. I especially found the relationship between the three twelve-year-olds interesting and realistic. It added a lot of reality to the story and rounded out the older version of Mandy. 

If you like mystery and realistic portrayals of childhood trauma this is a good choice.