Monday, 29 May 2017

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 380
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books 
Released: 1st of June 2017 

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

What I Have to Say 

This was a beautiful, beautiful book. At first the Christianity put me off a bit, even though I understood it and how important it was. Lucy grew up her entire life with Christianity and her relationship with god being a huge part of her identity. But the beauty of it was that as she felt disconnected from her faith, she started to explore the sides of her personality that she's never looked into. At the start, she defined herself too much as the pastor's daughter and it was good to see that fall away and be rebuilt in a way that allowed her to live her life more as she wanted without worrying so much about her parents' or god's approval. 

I loved the friendship group at Daybreak. I loved Daybreak! It had such a sense of individuality and the realness that this sort of place have. The kind of atmosphere that you have to be part of to understand it all. The kids at the camp were so sweet as well, especially the little ones. It was interesting how not all the problems of the children were told, but it was obvious they were there for a reason. 

This whole book was a fantastic story and I can't wait for Emery Lord's next book. 

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

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Flames in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Released: 18th of May 2017

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.

What I Have to Say 

I didn't realise this book was missing from my life, but it really was. It is exactly to my tastes as well as being so beautifully written and with some really real and very mysterious characters. There was so much going on, so many lies told, so many secrets hidden and I cannot wait to find out more. I'm so happy that there are going to be other books. I can't wait to find more what will happen. 

It's all about ninjas and feminism, what could be better? This is a book that really looks at a women's place in the world, a place where Mariko's only option is to be married or bring dishonour to her family. It's about how women can take power in whatever way they can. 

I loved how much the way of Bushido was compared with the way the ninja operate. I always love the comparisons with Samurai and Ninja because they are so routed in the same code but they differ so much in a lot of ways. It's fascinating. 

I think I could read this series forever. It's definitely a new favourite. I can't wait for the next book! 

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

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Opposite of You by Lou Morgan

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 224
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Released: 4th of May 2017 

Bex and her identical twin sister Naomi used to be close. They used to be able to finish each other’s sentences, used to know exactly what the other was thinking. They were a matching pair.

And then something changed.

But Bex didn’t even realise until it was too late. When Naomi walks out of the house the night before their last GCSE exam and doesn’t come back, Bex has to think hard about how to find her.

What happens next will force Bex to unpick their shared history and the memories, following Naomi’s trail through their family, their past and all the way to the blinding lights of the Hemisphere music festival. Everything she thought she knew is called into question.

With her worries dismissed by their parents and ignored by her friends (and with Naomi's friends nowhere to be found) the only person Bex can trust is a stranger – Josh – as she tries to piece together a picture of the person she thought she shared everything with. Naomi's been leading another life, one Bex doesn't recognize... and it's led her straight into the path of Max: someone else who is not what they appear.

What I Have to Say 

This was a nice read. It was an intense look at the bond between twins and how hard it is when they grow apart. It delves deeply into the stories of bonds between twins and reports of knowing when their twin is in danger. I enjoyed it immensely, loving to explore the relationship between Naomi and Bex in the flashbacks to when they were younger and the relationships between them now. 

It's interesting to how things break apart and change, especially when there's the question of supernatural twin psychic powers may be involved. I loved how the question of how much the twin stuff was real was left open through most of the book. 

Naomi was such an interesting character as well. It was interesting how lost she was and how much she resent Bex for that. I'd definitely love to know what Naomi ends up doing, but I doubt there's enough story left for a sequel unless there's a big change in direction. 

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

Monday, 22 May 2017

Artie Conan Doyle and the Gravediggers' Club by Robert J. Harris

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 192
Publisher: Floris Books 
Released: 1st of June 2017 

One day Arthur Conan Doyle will create the greatest detective of all -- Sherlock Holmes. But right now Artie Conan Doyle is a twelve-year-old Edinburgh schoolboy with a mystery of his own to solve. While sneaking out to explore Greyfriars Kirkyard by night, Artie and his best friend Ham spot a ghostly lady in grey and discover the footprints of a gigantic hound. Could the two mysteries be connected? These strange clues lead them to a series of robberies carried out the sinister Gravediggers' Club and soon they find themselves pitted against the villainous Colonel Braxton Dash. Will Artie survive his encounters with graveyards and ghosts in the foggy streets of nineteenth century Edinburgh -- or will his first case be his last?

What I Have to Say 

This is perhaps my new favourite Middle-Grade mystery series! I was worried it would be overdone or written down too much, but I found it such a great read. Artie is a really great character based on a lot of research that the author has done on Arthur Conan Doyle and his life. I liked the fact that it wasn't all centred around Sherlock Holmes (though there were some great references) but also took into account Conan Doyle's interest in the afterlife as well. 

The mystery was very well written and also brought in components of two Sherlock Holmes stories, though not in a way that was too obvious. Harris built his own mystery around these two stories making a wonderfully original and thrilling mystery. I loved all the historical references as well and the Latin that was brought up from time to time. 

I think this is a great introduction to Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes for young readers who have never read the books, but also a really great series for readers who are already fans of the books and the man behind them, young and old. 

I really wasn't sure what this book would be like, but I'm so glad I requested it because it was a really great book. 

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

Saturday, 20 May 2017

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 368
Publisher: Penguin
Released: 1st of June 2017 

Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.

Sports star Cooper only knows what he's doing in the baseball diamond.

Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.

Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.

And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won't ever talk about any of them again.

He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it's no accident. All of them are suspects.

Everyone has secrets, right?

What really matters is how far you'll go to protect them.

What I Have to Say 

A good mystery like this one was exactly what I needed right now. It had very real, believable characters who you couldn't help but like as piece by piece you got to know their real personality. I don't think there was actually one of the four that I didn't love completely by the end. The way it's written makes you feel like you know them at the start but then as they get caught up in being investigated for murder and their lives start to fall apart, it uncovers more about their personalities and you start to really know them as individuals rather than stereotypes. 

The mystery was compelling and beautifully written. I guessed the ending, but in a way that made me feel really clever rather than like it was predictable, because of the fantastic twist to the story. You've got to be able to guess the endings sometimes, or what's the point, right?   It was just perfect and exactly the answer that satisfied me immensely. 

Above all this is a story about secrets. There are so many secrets hidden in this book and it's all about what happens when they come out. I absolutely loved that idea and the way that everything changed as the plot progressed. 

This is definitely one of the most perfect contemporary mysteries I've read and I would recommend it to anyone. 

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

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Battlemage by Taran Matharu

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Hatchette Children's Group 
Released: 4th of May 2017 

After the thrilling cliffhanger at the end of book two, we rejoin Fletcher and his friends in the ether, where they must undertake a mortally dangerous quest, all the while avoiding capture by enemies and facing foes more terrifying than anything they have yet encountered.

But this is nothing compared to what truly lies ahead for Fletcher, as his nemesis, albino orc Khan, is on a mission to destroy Hominum and everything and everyone that Fletcher loves.

What I Have to Say 

Apparently this was the last in the series? I'm surprised by that as I think they left a lot of stuff open. I guess enough was concluded, so perhaps they'll be a sequel trilogy or just a potential for tie in series or novels later on. It would be nice to see something from the other characters. The Dwarven characters especially are really interesting or something more from Sylva. I think Fletcher doesn't have much more to give, but I'd like to know at least in passing about how he does and whether he and Ignatious reach their full potential. 

I was looking forward to this book because of what happened at the end of the last book and I have to say I'm a bit disappoint. I wanted to explore more of the world the demons come from and see more of the different types of demons. There was a bit of that and I understand that the characters were concerned more about their survival and getting back to Hominum as quickly as possible, but maybe in the future it would be cool to get a book about people who go and explore. 

I think this was a good trilogy in general really. There were a lot of battle scenes towards the end of this book, though. They went on a long time and the strategies that Fletcher and his army were using were interesting, but after a while it was just too much. I was done with battles and wanted it to end.

 Also, I think the only thing that really sets this apart from other fantasy series was the issues of race. The Dwarven issues and the way the people in power were trying to set them up and force them into rioting and give them an excuse to round them all up hit me quite strongly. Especially in these political times, it's important to see how racism can be stirred up and incited by a manipulative power, especially when there are terror attacks involved. 

It's interesting that this series has so much to say about race and I definitely think that it's a good reason to read these books. 

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

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Like Other Girls by Claire Hennessy

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 288
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 25th of May 2017 

Here's what Lauren knows: she's not like other girls. She also knows it's problematic to say that - what's wrong with girls? She's even fancied some in the past. But if you were stuck in St Agnes's, her posh all-girls school, you'd feel like that too. Here everyone's expected to be Perfect Young Ladies, it's even a song in the painfully awful musical they're putting on this year. And obviously said musical is directed by Lauren's arch nemesis.

Under it all though, Lauren's heart is bruised. Her boyfriend thinks she's crazy and her best friend's going through something Lauren can't understand... so when Lauren realises she's facing every teenage girl's worst nightmare, she has nowhere to turn. Maybe she should just give in to everything. Be like other girls. That's all so much easier ... right?

Trigger warnings: Transphobia, Sexual Harassment. Abortion 

What I Have to Say 

Claire Hennessy likes to take on important issues, as she comes at it from a way that walks on a knife edge between being problematic and really showing how the issues work. In Nothing Tastes as good, this worked quite well. It would be very triggering for someone reading with an eating disorder, but as a book written to show readers what it feels like to have a eating disorder, it did it really well. 

Like Other Girls though, I think goes across the line on some issues. The transphobia really put me off. It horrified me completely and made me dislike Lauren as a character. Considering the ending, I kind of understand what Hennessy was going for, especially as Lauren and Evan have a lot of their own issues which somewhat explained the transphobic comments that Lauren was making and how much she didn't understand what Evan was going through. But I'm not sure it really made it any better. I don't think it was really addressed enough. 

The main plotline was obviously very important and I found it very emotional and interesting. It gave me the connection to Lauren as a character that I hadn't managed to find due to her transphobia, If the book had just been this storyline and there hadn't been the transphobic plotline then I think I really could have enjoyed it. 

I think this is an important book, especially being set in Ireland, but Hennessy just stepped over the line with what she was trying to show with the transphobia. I think it's good that she tried but it just didn't turn out well. 

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

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Girlhood by Cat Clarke

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 342
Publisher: Quercus 
Released: 4th of May 2017 

Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can't escape the guilt of her twin sister's Jenna's death, and her own part in it - and she knows noone else will ever really understand.

But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels...loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Jenna died.

Then Kirsty's behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper's? And why is she so obsessed with Harper's lost sister? Soon, Harper's closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity.

How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her?

What I Have to Say 

This was interesting and guessed what Kirsty was doing from fairly early on. It was interesting to see this story line from the point of view of someone who was so taken in by Kirsty and who just couldn't see how creepy and manipulative she was being. 

What I think I liked most though, other than the beautiful friendship group, full of diversity, was the fact that this isn't a story about destroying and losing friendships. It's a story about second chances. It's about redemption and moving passed grief. Harper is so filled with grief and guilt over the death of her sister and it's all about her and her family needing to move on from that. 

I also felt the boarding school atmosphere was accurate at showing the good and bad sides of boarding school as well. It showed the bitchiness and grudges that students can get in that intense, all girl atmosphere as well as the fun that Harper and her friends get from their close friendships. It shows how friendships can be lost and how hard that is and also how to move on with that. 

In general, it just had a lot of great messages and lot going for it. 

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

Monday, 8 May 2017

Legion by Julie Kagawa

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: HQ
Released: 25th of April 2017 

Dragon hatchling Ember Hill was never prepared to find love at all--dragons do not suffer human emotions--let alone the love of a human and a former dragonslayer, at that. With ex-soldier Garret dying at her feet after sacrificing his freedom and his life to expose the deepest of betrayals, Ember knows only that nothing she was taught by dragon organization Talon is true. About humans, about rogue dragons, about herself and what she's capable of doing and feeling.

In the face of great loss, Ember vows to stand with rogue dragon Riley against the dragon-slaying Order of St. George and her own twin brother Dante--the heir apparent to all of Talon, and the boy who will soon unleash the greatest threat and terror dragonkind has ever known.

Talon is poised to take over the world, and the abominations they have created will soon take to the skies, darkening the world with the promise of blood and death to those who refuse to yield.

What I Have to Say 

I'm enjoying this series more than when I started it, but it still isn't my favourite Julie Kagawa series. She's doing really interesting things with the Talon organisation and the clone dragons. I'm especially liking the stuff with Dante. This book especially gave a lot of information on Dante's motivations. It makes sense now as to what he's doing and exactly why he's doing it. I wish he'd get out from Talon's claw, but I can understand his aims and why he thinks he's doing the right thing for both himself and Ember by doing what he's doing. 

The thing that's really holding me back from really adoring this series is the love triangle. I am so sick of love triangles in books. They never capture my interest as much as they seem to with everyone else. I thought that we could move on with it after what happened in the last book. And again I'm hoping that it will be put behind us after the things that happened in this book. I really hope so anyway. I just don't care which of them Ember ends up with, all I care about is whether they can defeat Talon and avoid being killed by St. George. 

The things with St. George have gotten really interesting in this book though. I can't say much without spoilers, but let's just say that I'm really curious to see what they do in the next book... 

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

Saturday, 6 May 2017

I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 336
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Released: 4th of May 2017

Jemma knows who did the murder. She knows because he told her. And she can't tell anyone.

Fourteen-year-old Jemma has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to communicate or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. She has a sharp brain and inquisitive nature, and knows all sorts of things about everyone. But when she is confronted with this terrible secret, she is utterly powerless to do anything. Though that might be about to change...

What I Have to Say 

This was such an interesting story! It made me want a Miss Marple style detective story about a detective who's in a wheelchair tends to overhear things from people around her because people just assume she doesn't understand and then she could use it to her advantage. I think it would be cool if this turned into a series with Jemma at the center, but I don't think it would happen. 

It was so interesting to see things from the point of view of a person with no way to communicate at all. It really opened my eyes to the feelings of humiliation that can come from being stuck like that. Jemma was such an amazing character and she had so much going on in her mind and yet people around her couldn't do anything but just guess at her needs. And even the most kind and sensitive person in the world would never be able to get that right for her. 

I love this book most because it really made me think of things from a different viewpoint and I hope to find more books like this. 

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

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Passing for White by Tanya Landman

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Publisher: Barrington Stoke 
Released: 15th of May 2017 

1848. The Deep South. Rosa is a slave but her owner is also her father and her fair skin means that she can ‘pass for white’. With the aid of her husband, Rosa disguises herself as a young Southern gentleman, and her husband as her property. In this guise, the couple flee the South, explaining away their lack of literacy, avoiding anyone that they may have ever met and holding their nerve in the face of extreme stress and imminent danger, over a thousand miles to freedom. 

What I Have to Say 

One of the many things I liked about this was that it was a that it's based on a true story. Some of the names and events are changed but the basic story of two black people travelling across America in search of freedom is the same. It's inspiring and made even more awesome by the fact that there was no "white saviour" in the entire thing. The entire journey was all down to Rosa, a black slave, taking advantage of her light skin to disguise herself as a white gentleman. And that is just the most beautiful thing I've read lately. 

Rosa felt very real as well. Her fear as she traveled, always worrying that she would be caught out was infectious and it made me root for her so much, because I couldn't stand the thought that she wouldn't succeed. 

The language used in the book was mostly okay. The N-word was used once and Rosa's husband was addressed as "boy" a few times, but there was a note in the back explaining the authors decision to use these words and how she had tried to hold back as much as she could without being unrealistic. I think. Obviously being white I don't know what it would be like to be a black person reading this book, so I can't really comment more than to say I respect the author's decision and hope it doesn't offend anyone. 

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

Monday, 1 May 2017

The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 288
Publisher: Chicken House 
Released: 4th of May 2017 

Ami lives with her mother on an island where the sea is as blue as the sky. It’s all she knows and loves, but the arrival of malicious government official Mr Zamora changes her world forever: her island is to be made into a colony for lepers. Taken from her mother and banished across the sea, Ami faces an uncertain future in an orphanage. There she meets a honey-eyed girl named for butterflies, and together they discover a secret that will lead her on an adventure home. Ami must go back to the island of no return, but will she make it in time?

What I have to Say 

I think this was even more beautiful than the Girl of Ink and Stars. There was just something about the love involved in it. The way that Ami was fighting to get back to her mother. 

The treatment of Leprosy was really interesting. I didn't know much about it before, but it was really cool to see Ami's home, how the colony had a whole society with different words to talk about people with Leprosy because so much of the illness is based around slurs and misinformation. 

The only thing that I disliked was that the bad guy was portrayed with OCD and it was used a lot to show how scared he was of the disease. I understand completely how many people were scared of Leprosy. I have OCD, I know I would have reacted the same way as Mr Zamora. And it just made me so uncomfortable to have my illness portrayed with me, even though the main characters did pity him and say he was sick rather than hate him more for it. 

I liked the butterflies and the symbolism though. I want to be a butterfly zookeeper! 

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