Monday, 27 February 2017

Frogkisser! by Garth Nix

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: Piccadilly Press
Released: 28th of February 2017 

The Last Thing She Needs Is a Prince.

The First Thing She Needs Is Some Magic. 

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother's new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own.

Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a Quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land-and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

What I Have to Say 

This book is humorous, entertaining and beautifully feminist. Princess Anya is a wonderful twist on the fairy tale princess, embarking upon a quest, which soon because more like a series of entwining quests, in order to fulfill her sister promise and change her sister's lover back from frog form. And all she really wants to do is get back to the warmth of her library and her books. 

The characters were wonderfully quirky and all had their own characteristics that set them apart. I think my favourite was probably Ardent, the dog, who is excitable, easily distracted but very, very loyal, as all good dogs are.

Despite the humour that surrounded all the characters, they were not only stereotypes and when they were, they had some sort of twist to make them different from the characters that are normally seen in fairy tales. They also each have so many wants that take the story in different directions and create conflict. It made it so that the story was not at all predictable, but at the same time, completely logical for each of the characters. 

This really is a beautiful story and would be perfect for younger readers who have an interest in fairy tales. Though people of all ages who can appreciate humour and ingenious twists. 

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

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Close Your Eyes by Nicci Cloke

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 304
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 23rd of February 2017 

Southfield High School is oh so normal, with its good teachers, its bad, and its cliques. But despite the cliques, there's a particular group of friends who have known each other forever and know that they can rely on each other for anything. 

There's the twins: Aisha, rebellious, kind, and just a tiny bit worried about what the hell she's going to do once this year is over, and Vis, smart, quiet and observant. Then there's Remy, the loudmouth, and Gemma, who's more interested in college boys and getting into the crap club in town. And then there's Elise: the pretty one.

But at the start of Year 11, when the group befriend the new boy, Elijah, things start to change. The group find themselves not as close as they used to be. 

What I Have to Say 

This was such an interesting read. I love the way that it was set out, so that the even though we knew from the start what was going to happen, it wasn't revealed until later exactly who was involved and how it would unfold. It was so fascinating to be introduced to the characters and get to know them in the time leading up to the event so we could see what drove the events to happen. 

It was told in several different ways as well, There were twitter feeds and blog posts were a good way to show what was going on and the way that the people both inside and outside the school would react. 

The I was quite excited by the twists as well. It was a good way to separate this book from others with the same topic. 

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

Thursday, 23 February 2017

The Girl Of Glass by Holly Webb

Synopsis (from Netgalley

Pages: 132
Publisher: Orchard Books 
Released: 9th of March 2017 

Mariana lives with her family on the Venetian island of Murano - famed for its artists who create masterpieces from glass. But when Mariana's little sister, Eliza, dies of consumption and her mother's heart seems as though it will never heal from the pain, Mariana's father decides to use his glassmaking skill - and a dash of magic - to create a girl of glass in Eliza's image.

The remarkable glass doll, who sings, dances and talks, draws attention wherever she goes, and soon Mariana is famous for having the magical glass sister. But as the glass girl takes on more and more of Eliza's personality, Mariana begins to suspect that there is more than just magic at play. Could the girl of glass be her sister's ghost made real?

What I Have to Say 

I still haven't read the first two books in the series, but the beautiful thing is, it doesn't seem to matter. It's the kind of series where you can engage in each of the books and the magic world within in them without having to worry about loads of backstory you may have missed. Some of the same characters reappear, but only in minor rolls. It's both a series and a standalone in the best way. 

Eliza (the glass version, not the real version who we don't get to spend as much time with) is the most wonderful, beautiful character. She's an excitable little thing who you want to protect from all the harm in the world especially as being glass makes her so much more fragile. I truly fell in love with her as a character and felt the same towards her as Mariana does, ready to do whatever it takes to keep her safe. 

Mariana also is a really interesting character. She has magic but is unable to train properly as glass making magic is for men. Throughout the book she does a lot to protect her sister, but she also has her own desire to learn magic and see where her talents lie. 

This really is a beautiful series and so great for younger readers. I want to get everyone to start reading these books. 

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

Monday, 20 February 2017

Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 304
Publisher: Hatchette Children's Group 
Released: 9th of March 2017 

Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

What I Have to Say 

This book had some cute moments, some awesome, crazy adventures in Japan, but it also had a lot of complicated romance. I wouldn't call it so much a love triangle as a ball of wool that has become so tangled up that untangling it is impossible and you have to resort to using scissors or just give up. Everyone in the book was in love with someone else and no one seemed to be in love with a person who actually loved them back. It's not the sort of romance that I enjoy and it just made me annoyed with everyone. 

Sophia's attitude really bothered me. Her feelings for Jamie were obvious from the moment he arrived back in Tokyo and yet she continued to pine after David, who she never even told about her feelings. Her dismissal of David's girlfriend was the worst though. She completely ignored her most of the time, without even attempting to make her feel like part of the group even though the girl felt like things were a lot different. She basically didn't see her as a human being with feelings. I didn't like that and honestly wanted to slap Sophia half the time. 

The book also had a lot of good parts though. It delved deep into how it feels for someone who is constantly shifted from country to country based on her parents whims. Okay not their whims, their jobs but still. It dealt with Sophia's feelings of abandonment from her father who has a perfectly stable life in Paris with his new family leaving no room for Sophia and her sister who are forced to move about between Japan and America with short holidays in Paris, never feeling like they belonged anywhere. This was all explored so deeply and I feel captured the feelings that these kids go through, though naturally I cannot say for sure because I've never been in that situation). 

Also as I said at the start, fun, crazy adventures in Shibuya with Jamie and Sophia. Arcades, Karaoke and Ramen with a side of Matcha lattes. What more can you ask for in a date? 

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

Saturday, 18 February 2017

One Little Mistake by Emma Curtis

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 416
Publisher: Black Swan 
Released: 23rd of February 2017

Vicky Seagrave is blessed: three beautiful children, a successful, doting husband, great friends and a job she loves. She should be perfectly happy.

When she risks everything she holds dear on a whim, there's only person she trusts enough to turn to.

But Vicky is about to learn that one mistake is all it takes; that if you're careless with those you love, you don't deserve to keep them . . . 

What I Have to Say 

This book wasn't what I expected. For one thing, I would say that it wasn't just one little mistake, but a few quite big mistakes following one another. But I really enjoyed it. It was a really mystery with a lot of different threads coming together to create a dramatic conclusion. It was really well written. 

At first it was a bit confusing with the different threads. It's one of those books where you just have to trust that it will all make sense in the end. 

I liked the characters a lot. Vicky was really easy to relate to and sympathize with. You can see easily her reasons for making the "One Little Mistake" that the title refers to and even if you don't agree with what she did, you can see why and understand her feelings. 

It's a really good read for those who like a good mystery. 

My thanks go to Penguin Random House for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Liar's Handbook by Keren David

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 88
Publisher: Barrington Stoke 
Released: 15th of January 2017 

River's life is blown apart when his mum invites her new boyfriend into their home and their lives. River is instantly suspicious of Jason he seems fake, too good to be true.

At school, River's routine fibs are escalating into something more serious, and his teacher gives him a notebook in the hope he can channel his fantasies into creative writing instead. And so, River begins The Liar's Handbook, and an investigation into Jason.

But what he uncovers is a terrible deception involving his biological father, the police force and his mum's environmental campaign group... but will anyone take his findings seriously?

What I Have to Say 

Another really emotional story about a boy who doesn't know his father. For River, his life is about lying, He has so many gaps in his life that he likes to fill with make believe, because his imagination is better than the truth. And if he doesn't know then it means that there's a possibility it could be true right? 

The book is set out as River's journal, a book given to him to write down his make believe in the hopes of curbing his lies, but instead River sets out to create a handbook of how to be good at lying. Each chapter is titled with a rule for how to lie, what to do or not to do. It's a really nice way to set out the book and makes it interesting to see what each chapter will be titled and how it will link to what's happening in the story. 

The whole mystery surrounding Jason and River's biological father is really interesting. Though short, it contains a lot of different pieces of information that connect up to make an even more interesting solution. 

I enjoyed every minute of the book and it's the sort of book that gives you a lot to think about afterwards. 

My thanks go to Barrington Stoke and Nina Douglas for providing me with this copy for review. 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Mind the Gap by Phil Earle

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 104 
Publisher: Barrington Stoke Ltd. 
Released: 5th of January 2017 

When Mikey's dad died, something in Mikey died too. He loved his old man and he never stopped dreaming that one day his dad would land the role of a lifetime, prove them all wrong, and rock back up to the estate in the flashiest car anyone had ever seen. Now there's just numbness, and not caring, and really, really stupid decisions. He says the worst of it is that he can't even remember his dad's voice any more. Eventually Mikey's best mate can't bear it any more, and so he sets out to give Mikey the memories - and his dad's voice - back

What I Have to Say 

This is a really touching story of the extent that a boy will go for his friend. It shows the extent that grief can wrap people up in and swallow them into depression. 

I have to admit that I wasn't too keen on most of the story. I'm not so fond of stories about thugs and thieves, but it was entertaining and there were many characters with different attitudes and personalities, each effected by Mikey's father and reluctant to help. 

The ending was the best part in my opinion. It was solved in such a simple but cool way and the story that inspired it was so sweet. 

Though it wasn't really my thing, I really did enjoy this books. 

My thanks go to Barrington Stoke and Nina Douglas to providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 542
Publisher: RHCP Digital 
Released: 15th of September 2017 

Lucy has left Lockwood & Co. A freelance operative, she is hiring herself out to other agencies – agencies that might value her ever-improving skills.

But now Lockwood needs her help.

Penelope Fittes, leader of the well-renowned Fittes Agency wants Lockwood & Co. – and only them – to locate and remove the ‘Source’ for the legendary Brixton Cannibal.

It’s a tough assignment. Made worse by the tensions between Lucy and the other agents – even the skull is treating her like a jilted lover!

What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving their closest rivals may just do the trick.

But not all is at it seems. And it’s not long before a shocking revelation rocks Lockwood & Co. to its very core . . .

What I Have to Say 

I love these books. Even though they stop me sleeping sometimes, it's worth a bit of a scare to read the beautiful writing and adventures that Lockwood & co. partake in. I love the relationships between the teammates the best. The way they fit together as an oddball family with their thinking cloth and addiction to cake. They're quirky and work well together and the addition of Holly hasn't changed that. 

I loved the way that Lucy came back to the team as well. The way that she insists that she's not really back while helping them with cases, even though it's obvious right from the start that she's going to go back to them. Because what is Lockwood & Co. without Lucy? 

I also missed the sarcasm of the skull. As much as Lockwood & Co. isn't Lockwood & Co. without Lucy, it also lacks a lot without the skull's sarcasm. The time without it changed the feel of the book a lot. That was really the only downside to this book though. I enjoyed it just as much as the others. 

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

Thursday, 9 February 2017

The Witch's Kiss and The Witch's Tears by Katherine and Elizabeth Korr

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 424
Publisher: Harper Collins 
Released: 30th June 2016 

Sixteeen-year-old Meredith is fed-up with her feuding family and feeling invisible at school – not to mention the witch magic that shoots out of her fingernails when she’s stressed. Then sweet, sensitive Jack comes into her life and she falls for him hard. The only problem is that he is periodically possessed by a destructive centuries-old curse. Meredith has lost her heart, but will she also lose her life? Or in true fairytale tradition, can true love’s kiss save the day?

Pages: 320
Publisher: Harper Collins 
Released: 2nd of February 2017 

It's not easy being a teenage witch. Just ask Merry. She's drowning in textbooks and rules set by the coven; drowning in heartbreak after the loss of Jack. But Merry's not the only one whose fairy tale is over. Big brother Leo is falling apart and everything Merry does seems to push him further to the brink. And everything that happens to Leo makes her ache for revenge. So when strangers offering friendship show them a different path they'd be mad not to take it...Some rules were made to be broken, right?

What I Have to Say 

I wasn't keen on these books. The Witch's Kiss just didn't feel like anything different than all the books I've read before. I didn't really feel much for Merry, who seemed to just wait around for more instructions. The end was better and I liked how it linked up, but it didn't change how I thought about the book as a whole. 

The second book was better, there was more going on in general and the storyline was much more interesting. But it still felt like most of the action was going on while Merry was just sitting back not doing much. This time it wasn't because of her own decision at least, but I still felt that by confining her and not letting her be part of the action, it just made the story dull and frustrating. 

I probably won't be reading any more of this series. 

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

Monday, 6 February 2017

All About Mia by Lisa Williamson

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 336
Publisher: David Fickling Books 
Released: 2nd of February 2017 

One family, three sisters.

GRACE, the oldest: straight-A student

AUDREY, the youngest: future Olympic swimming champion.

And MIA, the mess in the middle.

Mia is wild and daring, great with hair and selfies, and the undisputed leader of her friends – not attributes appreciated by her parents or teachers.

When Grace makes a shock announcement, Mia hopes that her now-not-so-perfect sister will get into the trouble she deserves.

But instead, it is Mia whose life spirals out of control – boozing, boys and bad behaviour – and she starts to realise that her attempts to make it All About Mia might put at risk the very things she loves the most.

What I Have to Say 

This is a great book about identity and feeling overshadowed by siblings and shows a great deal of insight into where this "bad" behaviour comes from. Because other than the blurb that I've used in this review. The word "bad" was never used in regards to Mia's behaviour. She is not going out drinking with the intention of causing a scene. Her actions aren't meant to make things "All About Mia", she's just a lost and struggling girl who doesn't know how else to deal with the pain she feels when she sees her parents focusing on her sisters more than her. 

It also gives a good look into the different perceptions that the family have. Even though the book is quite literally All About Mia and told from her viewpoints, throughout the book, the other siblings viewpoints come to light. I think this is especially apparent in the way that Mia and Audrey are sent away while Grace and their parents discuss Grace's situation. She comes back to see her perfect sister back to being perfect again, but she doesn't see all the arguments and shouting that got her back into their parents good books. 

I especially liked the fact that Williamson looked into what it's like for a teenager applying to UCAS when they don't have something that sets them apart. Mia is the type of person who's hobbies aren't something that you can put on a UCAS form, not that she really wants to go to University anyway. She's not a swimming star like her younger sister. She's not good at academics like her older sister. She has no idea what to put on her form. And the teachers reaction is to shout at her. It shows the faults in our school system, and in a lot of ways our society, that only caters to certain people. The fact that someone who doesn't have particular hobbies that they can talk about is seen as a problem or shallow. This is something that even I've fallen into the trap of thinking in the past, so this was something really eye opening. 

Williamson's books are so amazingly written. They're very easy to read and they make you think about things that you haven't even considered before. I personally think that everyone should read them. 

My thanks go to David Fickling Books for providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 512
Publisher: Faber & Faber 
Released: 2nd of February 2017 

This is not about blood or love. This is about treason.

Nearly a year has passed since Amani and the rebels won their epic battle at Fahali. Amani has come into both her powers and her reputation as the Blue-Eyed Bandit, and the Rebel Prince's message has spread across the desert - and some might say out of control. But when a surprise encounter turns into a brutal kidnapping, Amani finds herself betrayed in the cruellest manner possible.

Stripped of her powers and her identity, and torn from the man she loves, Amani must return to her desert-girl's instinct for survival. For the Sultan's palace is a dangerous one, and the harem is a viper's nest of suspicion, fear and intrigue. Just the right place for a spy to thrive... But spying is a dangerous game, and when ghosts from Amani's past emerge to haunt her, she begins to wonder if she can trust her own treacherous heart.

What I Have to Say 

I adore this series. Not only does it show a world full of exciting exotic settings, but it is also written in such a beautiful way. Sometimes Hamilton adopts an almost fairytail way of story telling, recounting things and making everything more magical by doing so. The only problem with that came in this book, where at the start she recounted everything that happened in the first book, which I felt was just too much of an info-dump. It's fine when it's a story that we haven't been told yet, but I just didn't need a recap like that. 

One of the things that defines these books, other than the setting, is the characters. The characters are so well defined. You can easily see how true their reactions are. Whether it's Jin running away so he doesn't have to see his girlfriend die, Ahmed covering for his brother or Amani desperately trying to rescue everyone. I love all the characters so much. 

But it's because I love Amani so much that I felt she was given a disservice with what happened at the palace. I felt that her headstrong and reckless nature was cast aside a little while she relied on others to get her out of danger. It felt very much like she was being changed into the the damsel in distress, waiting on her prince to come rescue her. And maybe that's mostly because she was kept in the harem rather than in a different part of the palace. It just felt wrong really. An injustice to this strong woman to see her dressed up and paraded around like something to be owned. 

Even so, these books are still such beautiful books and I can't wait for the next one to find out what happens next! 

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

Thursday, 2 February 2017

The Mystery of the Painted Dragon by Katherine Woodfine

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 352 
Publishers: Egmont Books Ltd 
Released: 9th of February 2017 

When a priceless painting is stolen, our dauntless heroines Sophie and Lil find themselves faced with forgery, trickery and deceit on all sides!

Be amazed as the brave duo pit their wits against this perilous puzzle! Marvel at their cunning plan to unmask the villain and prove themselves detectives to be reckoned with – no matter what dangers lie ahead . . .

It’s their most perilous adventure yet!

What I Have to Say 

There's always a sense of calm that comes across me when I open a new book from one of my favourite authors. Katherine Woodfine is definitely one of those. From the first book, I knew that Sinclairs was one of those book places where my imagination can feel at home. 

As always, the mystery that Woodfine created was as always thrilling and compelling, but I did feel a little disappointed that I figured it out so easily. I felt that this one was fairly obvious. Maybe it was just me. It didn't effect my enjoyment of the book too much, but I expected more from Woodfine. 

I love how it ended. It makes me really interested to see how the next book turns out. 

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