Friday, 28 February 2014

Out Of The Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Josie Moraine wants out of The Big Easy - she needs more than New Orleans can offer. Known locally as a brothel prostitute's daughter, she dreams of life at an elite college, far away from here.

But then a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie caught between her ambition and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans is luring Josie deeper in as she searches for the truth, and temptation beckons at every turn.


Known only as a whore's daughter, Josie wants out of New Orleans. She moved out of her mother's madam's house when she was 11 and has been saving money to move further away ever since. Only problem is her mother is a thief as well as inconsiderate and shacked up with an idiot criminal. 

Sepetys addressed many sensitive issues, from prostitution to mental illness, from social class to homosexuality. All the secrets the Quarter held was impressive and very gripping but I cannot blame Josie for wanting out. Josie was smart and her single-mindedness to get into Smith's college was admirable. She had a very simple voice but I rooted for her from the start. However, I really hated her mother; she had no right to talk to Josie the way she did, she was irresponsible and often plain stupid. Luckily, Josie had plenty of amazing friends that supported her in a way her mother never did. 

I've always wanted to go to New Orleans and even though Josie hated it there, Sepetys' descriptions were so evocative, I could practically smell the dankness of the streets. She also described the stark differences between the French Quarter and Uptown, from dark streets full of laughter to smart but lacking character. I slipped easily into Josie's story and her struggle to get on her feet, which proved tougher than she thought! Between threats from the mob and a victim of theft, Josie had her setbacks but if anyone deserved a happy ending, it was her!

Published 7th March 2013 by Penguin Books.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Fire And Flood by Victoria Scott

Tella's brother is dying. He's got cancer, and Tella is helpless to save him. Or so she thought. When an invitation arrives for Tella to compete in the Brimstone Bleed, a deadly competition that will lead her through treacherous jungle and scorching desert, she doesn't think twice. Because the prize is a cure to any illness. But Tella will be facing more than just the elements.

Tella and her family has just moved from Boston to Montana and she is bored out of her mind! Then, a little blue box inexplicably arrives on her bed, with a bluetooth device inside, a woman's voice explaining that Tella had been selected to take part in the Brimstone Bleed. I loved how it went from so normal to dropping us in the middle of the action, scrambling to make sense of everything! We are left as much in the dark as Tella, as she makes her way across the country, picks an egg and gets on a train to nowhere.

Tella should have annoyed me, with her spoiled attitude, but it was so obvious she loved her brother and was feeling out of her depth, I instantly fell in love with her sarcastic voice and her mostly-optimistic attitude. And the other characters were fantastic in their range; from sweet Caroline to bossy Harper, from jackass Titus to dependable Guy. Tella cannot make it alone and she gets the chance to interact with some incredible characters. And with such vivid descriptions, and varied from the humid jungle to the scorching open desert, I fell right into this weird world and even though things didn't always make sense, I couldn't put it down.

Yes, it is eerily similar to The Hunger Games in the whole "game of survival, joined to save sibling" thing, but I didn't really care about that. I actually loved how Tella was vain and had no survival skills, I loved the Pandora's and their magic, and I especially loved how it wasn't a fight to the death. The Brimstone Bleed wasn't public knowledge and a lot of the story was Tella trying to find out why it's even happening. 

From conspiracies to magic animals, cute guys and fights to survive, I loved every second. I laughed, cried out and most definitely gasped a lot - usually from the Pandora's special skills. Everyone had two sides, Tella had amazing allies and this game is much more complicated than it first seems. I eagerly await the next book - and my own Pandora!

Published 6th March 2014 by Chicken House. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Weekly Highlights: the 'Two Week' edition


Weekly Highlights is a feature borrowed from Faye of A Daydreamer's Thoughts, where I get to highlight my posts of the week, show you my new books and talk about bookish things! 

I might have forgotten last week (read: too lazy) so this entry is rather full. I got some great books this week that I can't wait to read but some I'm going to have to because they don't come out til August! In other news, nothing much to report. We Englanders were surprised by some sunshine and had almost forgotten what blue sky looked like and guess what - I actually managed to read outside! For five minutes before the sun clouded over and the wind picked up, but still!

On The Blog

Review of Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne (5 stars)
Review of Rock War by Robert Muchamore (4 stars)
Review of Up From The Grave by Jeaniene Frost (5 stars)
Discussion: Travelling Books
Review of Quantum Drop by Saci Lloyd (3 stars)


Currently Reading
Where The Rock Splits The Sky by Philip Webb, very gripping and only just started it!


On My Bookshelf
Fire And Flood by Victoria Scott
Tella's brother is dying. He's got cancer, and Tella is helpless to save him. Or so she thought. When an invitation arrives for Tella to compete in the Brimstone Bleed, a deadly competition that will lead her through treacherous jungle and scorching desert, she doesn't think twice. Because the prize is a cure to any illness. But Tella will be facing more than just the elements.


Some surprise post from Chicken House - actually got this last week so I've already read it and it was amazing!

The End Of The World As We Know It by Iva-Marie Palmer
They wanted to party like it was their last night on earth. They just might get their wish….
Meet the four most unlikely heroes ever:
Teena McAuley: Queen Bee, first-class problem solver, resident heartbreaker.
Leo Starnick: UFO conspirator, pizza delivery boy, all-around slacker.
Evan Brighton: Baseball all-star, extreme virgin, Teena-worshipper.
Sarabeth Lewis: Straight-A student, weekend hermit, enemy of the color pink.

When Teena locks Leo, Evan, and Sarabeth in the basement during her biggest party of the year, she doesn’t plan on getting trapped in the Loser Dungeon herself. She can barely imagine a night with these dweebs—let alone a lifetime. But when an alien invasion destroys their entire Midwestern suburb, it looks like these unlikely friends are the last people on earth. Now, it’s up to them to save the world…


How cool does this sound? A party to end all parties, then the morning after the world has ended? How do you miss that?! Thank you Hot Key!

The Devil In The Corner by Patrica Elliott
Penniless, and escaping the horrors of life as a governess to brutal households, Maud seeks refuge with the cousin-by-marriage she never knew. But Juliana quashes Maud's emerging friendships with the staff and locals - especially John, the artist commissioned to restore the sinister Doom in the local church. John, however, is smitten with Maud and makes every effort to woo her.

Maud, isolated and thwarted at every turn, continues to take the laudanum which was her only solace in London. Soon she becomes dependent on the drug - so is this the cause of her fresh anxieties? Or is someone - or something - plotting her demise?

Is the devil in the corner of the Doom a reality, or a figment of her imagination?

 
I am all over this Victorian Gothic - sounds a bit scary but I'm sure I'll love it anyway. Thank you Hachette!

Between The Lives by Jessica Shirvington
For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she Shifts to her ′other′ life - a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she′s a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she′s considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other.

With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments which bring her dangerously close to the life she′s always wanted... But just what - and who - is she really risking?


A girl with parallel lives? God, I hope there's an explanation for that, because it sounds incredible! Thank you Hachette!

The Moment Collector by Jodi Lynn Anderson

There's a ghost haunting 208 Water Street. She doesn't know who she was, or why she's still here. She does know that she is drawn to Maggie, the new girl in town, and her friends - beautiful, carefree Pauline and Liam, the boy who loves her. But the ghost isn't all that's lurking in Gill Creek... Someone is killing young girls all across the country. Can the ghost keep these three friends safe? Or does she have another purpose?

This sounds amazingly beautiful, and I loved Tiger Lily by the same author, so high hopes for this one. Thank you Hachette!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Quantum Drop by Saci Lloyd

Anthony Griffin is an ordinary kid caught up in a dangerous world. The boundaries between real and virtual are more and more blurred, and when Anthony’s girlfriend is taken out in a gang hit, he has to venture into the underground world of the Drop to flush out her killer and bring him to justice. 

This is the story of a boy whose girl is worth more than money.


Lloyd has created a world where gangs, virtual reality and money troubles have been warped beyond the norm, making the story futuristic yet believable. It was edgy, cool and dramatic yet I struggled with it, mostly I believe because of the target audience and lack of empathy with the protagonist. 

Stuck in the Debt-belt, these characters were battling against the world to make ends meet and I fell easily into the story where they are forced to make sometimes illegal money in the Drop, a virtual and parallel world. As I said, I did sympathise with Anthony but never really connected with him. This might be because he gave a fake name, or I couldn't figure out when he was writing from, whichever but I just couldn't get the emotional link that I want with a first person perspective. However, I did really like little sister Stella, who's autistic and loves crows. She was really sweet and her autistic, straight-forward way of thinking was very refreshing. Even though Anthony was often distracted, I really liked the little snippets of rants, how much Anthony hated the way mankind had developed and screwed up the world, as well as the different narrative techniques, from huge fonts and symbols to excerpts from Stella's blog. 

Set over a couple of days, everything happened way too fast; there was no real sense of time passing and considering how tired Lola and Anthony were after messing around in the Drop, I'm surprised they could keep going back so quickly. This time-passing also didn't allow any downtime to allow the reader to digest what had happened, but it managed to work as the story didn't lag. I just wish I had at least a breather between big revelations! It was also sometimes difficult to follow; it wasn't exactly complicated but the technological and money details sort of went over my head and mad me lose my place in the story.

Overall, an enjoyable if complex read; I just think I wasn't the target audience and did not have to brain power to keep all the details in my head!

Published 7th February 2013 by Hodder Children's Books. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Travelling Books

Inspired by Lucy's video, which can be found here, I thought I'd share my thoughts on books that make me want to travel the world.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green - like Lucy, this book tugged my heart strings but also really made me want to visit Amsterdam. His writing and settings are beautifully descriptive, really capturing the feeling of the pretty, with the lights, the flowers, the cute restaurants and rivers.

The Geography Of You and Me by Jennifer E Smith - the two protagonists travel the world, separately, to a variety of places but the ones that stuck out to me were Edinburgh, New York, San Fransisco, Paris and Rome. The settings were integral to the characters stories which meant they explored the city and Smith described the different feelings from the different cities.

Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins - oh, Paris. I love how Perkins describes Anna slowly gaining confidence as a stranger in the city, venturing out to explore the side streets, the cemeteries, the food and all that. 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - Karou and best friend Zuzana live and study in Prague. The old and traditional buildings mixed with the expressions of art, plus the adorable gothic cafe that they frequent, really urged me to research the beautiful city and put it on my bucket list.

And then there's:
US contemporaries such as How To Love, Eleanor and Park, Dirty Little Secret, Pushing The Limits - all of which show different parts of American culture, like small towns, typical high school, or the country music scene. It might be very typical of USYA but it's different to life over here and it is very interesting to read about.

UK contemporaries such as Dead Romantic, Geek Girl, Soulmates, Skulk, You Don't Know Me - all of these demonstrate the typical English scene, with its country villages, London cityscape, sixth form studying and muddy music festivals. These and many more are great examples of UKYA which show the life this side of the pond, from our slang to our school system.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Up From The Grave by Jeaniene Frost

Lately, life has been unnaturally calm for vampires Cat Crawfield and her husband Bones. They should have known better than to relax their guard, because a shocking revelation sends them back into action to stop an all-out war…

A rogue CIA agent is involved in horrifying secret activities that threaten to raise tensions between humans and the undead to dangerous heights. Now Cat and Bones are in a race against time to save their friends from a fate worse than death…because the more secrets they unravel, the deadlier the consequences. And if they fail, their lives—and those of everyone they hold dear— will be hovering on the edge of the grave.


Warning: spoilers for previous books.

This is the seventh and final installment of Cat and Bones' story and Frost did not disappoint or hold back. It continues with the troubles with Madigan, the CIA jackass that took over the operation after Don's death, and the trouble he is stirring is something that Cat has to stop, for the sake of her friends lives. But of course nothing is as easy as it seems, and it turns out that Madigan was involved in something much more dangerous than Cat's old team gone missing, and his horrific experiments could even lead to a war between vampires and ghouls if he succeeds.

As per with Cat and Bones' stories, I am left breathless and reeling from dramatic rescues and shocking twists, as well as the funny and sexy side that I've come to expect from Frost's writing. As it is the final book, Frost does a good job in wrapping everything up quite neatly and although some twists were easy to spot, I was so caught up in the drama that I didn't see them! Some things never change, which is why I sometimes wanted to smack Cat for not trusting Bones when she should have, and also want to smack Bones and a couple of others (*coughs Tate) for being over-protective. But domestic issues are side-lined when they have to save the world - again. 

Marie, the voodoo queen, makes an appearance, as well as old favourites Mencheres and Ian. God, I love Ian, he is a welcome distraction, not to mention a great fighter to have on the good side. And Cat needs all the allies she can find because they are on the hunt of a little girl able to bring down the undead world. 

This is a world that I have loved for years and I cannot believe it is over. Cat and Bones' story is enticing and entertaining and one I will definitely re-read over and over.

Published 28th January 2014 by Avon. 

Friday, 14 February 2014

Rock War by Robert Muchamore

Meet Jay. Summer. And Dylan.
Jay plays guitar, writes songs and dreams of being a rock star. But his ambitions are stifled by seven siblings and a terrible drummer. 
Summer works hard at school, looks after her nan and has a one-in-a-million singing voice. But can her talent triumph over her nerves?
Dylan is happiest lying on his bunk smoking, but his school rugby coach has other ideas, and Dylan reluctantly joins a band to avoid crunching tackles and icy mud.
They're about to enter the biggest battle of their lives. And there's everything to play for.


The blend of music and teenage drama, from a hyperactive classmate to boarding school troubles, from taking care of an ill grandmother to tackling seven siblings, made for a great story, leading up to a fantastic opportunity for all of them. The stories of the three protagonists were told with alternative perspectives, switching between the three of them, which built tension very effectively. Even though they were so far apart, spread across the country, their love of music united them before they even met. 

Jay was pretty scrawny, especially compared to his much tougher older brothers (and even one of his younger brothers) but he was passionate about his music so when his band's drummer is not getting any better, he risks his friendships to find a new one. Jay was the typical middle child, although there were a lot of children either side! He was quiet, didn't like to make a fuss, but stood up for his family and his music. Summer was really sweet and I immediately fell for her and her tough life; parents gone and left to look after her ill grandma, Summer was reluctant to join a band, especially with little money and an annoyingly crazy band mate but you could tell it did her good. She starting standing up for herself, allowed herself to have a life of her own and even gained some really good friends in the process.

And finally Dylan; bit of a loser, lazy, bad attitude and all that, but once you get to know him, generally a good guy. He is his father's son and loves music so he jumps at the chance of joining a band to avoid rugby - cannot blame him for that! He uses his sweet-talking skills and knowledge of the music industry to help the band get a better sound and even manages to make friends in them. 

Although I like music, the technical playing-an-instrument knowledge went over my head but I still fell so effortlessly into the world of the three of them, with all their little dramatics and difficulties. All three protagonists and their supporting characters were well built-up, from parents to band mates, and this was a great introduction to the series. 

Published 27th February 2014 by Hodder Children's Books. Thank you the the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Heart-Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

They say I'm evil. The police. The newspapers. The girls from school who shake their heads on the six o’clock news and say they always knew there was something not quite right about me. And everyone believes it. Including you. But you don't know. You don't know who I used to be.

Who I could have been.

Awaiting trial at Archway Young Offenders Institution, Emily Koll is going to tell her side of the story for the first time. 


Written as if in a notebook, Emily gets the chance to tell her side of the story to what landed her in prison. Her narrative is all over the place as she remembers what bought her to the psychotic institute as well as telling the everyday occurrences while there. It wasn't logical or linear but a natural progression and a balance between the past and present. Emily's story made for very interesting reading, with an unreliable narrator that you love to hate but, at least in my case, couldn't help but feel sorry for.

Byrne doesn't want to give anything away too soon, just leaving little breadcrumbs that have to be picked up and stored away for future reference, and will hopefully make sense later. I loved this technique, it made Emily's story more realistic as she didn't want to talk about it, even to herself. The story of how she was in prison was difficult to narrow down at first but as we see how Emily was so focused on revenge for her father and how she intertwined herself in Juliet's life to bring her down, I couldn't help but be impressed. The normalcy of life outside, especially Sid's story, really bought focus to the brutality of Emily's life in prison as well as showing Emily as "only human" with her near inability to complete her mission. It showed her as vulnerable, and I applaud Byrne for making a character so fascinating. 

There were moments when Emily, as her undercover persona Rose, left a crack in Juliet/Nancy's barrier and I cheered her on! I'm not sure if I was supposed to feel proud of Emily for successfully ruining Juliet's life but I did at times. Not sure what that says about me, but it says wonders about Byrne's writing that she got me to care about a psychopath. Even in her own voice, you could tell she was a little bit insane and while she was unnerving at times, she was also broken and insecure. An all-around incredible character, I could not help but love her and fall completely in love with Byrne's writing as she sucked me in to Emily's horrible story.

Published 10th May 2012 by Headline.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Weekly Highlights: the 'surprise post' edition




Weekly Highlights is a feature borrowed from Faye of A Daydreamer's Thoughts, where I get to highlight my posts of the week, show you my new books and talk about bookish things! 


A rather uneventful week that was interrupted by rain, wind and then great book post in the form of Chicken House future releases and the final Night Huntress book! In other news, nothing to report.

On The Blog
Review of Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (5 stars)
Discussion: Books That Need More Love (In My Opinion)
Review of Days Of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor (4 stars)


Currently Reading
Rock War by Robert Muchamore and binging on new book, Up From The Grave by Jeaniene Frost because I could not wait!


On My Bookshelf
Where The Rock Splits The Sky by Philip Webb

The moon has been split, and the Visitors have Earth in their alien grip. But the captive planet? That's not her problem. Megan just wants to track down her missing dad...

The world stopped turning long before Megan was born. Ever since the Visitors split the moon and stilled the Earth, permanent sunset is all anyone has known. But now, riding her trusty steed Cisco, joined by her posse, Kelly and Luis, Megan is on the run from her Texas hometown, journeying across the vast, dystopic American West to hunt down her father. To find him, she must face the Zone, a notorious landscape where the laws of nature do not apply. The desert can play deadly tricks on the mind, and the quest will push Megan past her limits. But to solve the mystery of not just her missing father but of the paralyzed planet itself, she must survive it--and an alien showdown.


The Glass Bird Girl by Esme Kerr
Orphan Edie is sent by her art dealer uncle to Knight’s Haddon School, to investigate the disappearance of a precious glass bird belonging to his secretive client’s daughter, Anastasia, an unhappy Russian princess. But what Edie uncovers instead is a dangerous mystery that only the girls themselves can solve.  


These two are surprise post from Chicken House which came with their press releases for July-December this year. They both look pretty awesome and I can't wait to get stuck in!

The Fearless by Emma Pass
The Fearless. An army, powered by an incredible new serum that makes each soldier stronger, sharper, faster than their enemies. Intended as a force for good, the serum has a terrible side-effect - anyone who takes it is stripped of all humanity, empathy, love. And as the Fearless sweep through the country, forcing the serum on anyone in their path, society becomes a living nightmare.

Cass remembers the night they passed through her village. Her father was Altered. Her mother died soon after. All Cass has left is her little brother - and when Jori is snatched by the Fearless and taken to their hellish lair, Cass must risk everything to get him back.







A find on Netgalley; I loved Emma's first novel ACID so I have high hopes for this one!


Up From The Grave by Jeaniene Frost
Lately, life has been unnaturally calm for vampires Cat Crawfield and her husband Bones. They should have known better than to relax their guard, because a shocking revelation sends them back into action to stop an all-out war…

A rogue CIA agent is involved in horrifying secret activities that threaten to raise tensions between humans and the undead to dangerous heights. Now Cat and Bones are in a race against time to save their friends from a fate worse than death…because the more secrets they unravel, the deadlier the consequences. And if they fail, their lives—and those of everyone they hold dear— will be hovering on the edge of the grave.


Cat and Bones' seventh and final book! I love this series with all my heart and I'm sorry to see it end but I'm sure Frost will not disappoint!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a new way of living – one without massacres and torn throats and bonfires of the fallen, without revenants or bastard armies or children ripped from their mothers’ arms to take their turn in the killing and dying.

Once, the lovers lay entwined in the moon’s secret temple and dreamed of a world that was a like a jewel-box without a jewel – a paradise waiting for them to find it and fill it with their happiness.

This was not that world.


This is the continuation of the magical and dangerous world introduced in Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The middle book in a trilogy can sometimes feel like a filler but this nicely built up the drama and the story. I read the first book last summer so details were foggy but surprisingly easy to fall back into the world, the beautiful narrative and remember the storyline, from Karou's second life to Akiva's betrayal and love, Thiago's war campaign and Brimstone's memories. 

Even though it broke my heart, I loved how realistic Karou and Akiva's reunion was; considering the betrayal and the drama between them, it was going to take a lot more than a couple of chance encounters and their complicated feelings for each other to mend bridges. Karou has some seriously horrible things to work through, like death and playing an untrusted resurrectionist to fellow chimaera; and Akiva was so broken without her, trying to change his ways because he knows what it is like for the other side now.

There were multiple perspectives in this book, some new characters that pop up once just to offer an extra piece of information about the world and its people, which was very interesting and added to the story in a imaginative way. We also heard more from Hazael and Liraz, Akiva's brother and sister, and I loved getting to know them better; there was much more to them than being soldiers and that progression was both personal and pivotal to the hope for Eretz's future. 

This book showed the effects of war, the sacrifices, the back-stabbing, not to mention the awe-inspiring prose that demonstrated love and hope and the beautiful settings all this occurred in. It was pretty heavy but very enjoyable and stocked full of drama and plot twists and incredible characters, from the magical to the human. 

Published 8th November 2012. 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Books That Need More Love (In My Opinion)

These very well may be books that are popular, depending on your reading habits. But I am aware that they are not "popular fiction" or at least I'm not aware that my friends read them, as I persuade them to buy them all!

Thus, they are split into two categories and I've limited the number of books I can ramble on about!

Newer books that you probably already know about:
You Don't Know Me by Sophia Bennett - a beautiful and quite popular book about friendship and peer pressure.
Velveteen by Daniel Marks - very gothic and funny tale about ghost hunters in purgatory but very American so not so well known over here.
Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost - another American writer, a very big vampire series with mixes of romance and thriller but not many of my friends have heard of them, let alone read them!
The Working Stiff by Rachel Caine - start of the Revivalist series, full of dark humour and gruesome details. The lesser known of her novels, I feel, but still very good.
The Name On Your Wrist by Helen Hiorns - the winner of Sony Young Movellist Award, a brilliantly written commentary on free will and the price of love.

Older books that I fear have been forgotten:
Cat Royal series by Julia Golding - I loved this series growing up and it is the reason I love history and historical fiction. It's a great introduction for younger readers to a dramatic period of history. 
Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite - a set text for uni that I read last year, very gothic and dark but funny, if a bit weird. Only for readers of a certain taste.
Dan Leno and The Limehouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd - another book for uni, one I really enjoyed and left me a little breathless from its twist ending.
Dear Dylan by Siobhan Curham - her first novel and the book that introduced me to her superb writing style, not to mention my first review book! Tells of a teenage girl who emails her hero and finds a friend.
The Mediator series by Meg Cabot - less known than her bigger series The Princess Diaries,  a series of 6 books about a teen girl who can see ghosts and attempts to help them move on. One of the first paranormal books I read and almost certainly the reason I fell in love with the genre. 

Are there any books you'd like more people to read, fear that they've been forgotten? Agree with what I've listed or think I've missed an obvious one?

Monday, 3 February 2014

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath and Wren are identical twins, and until recently they did absolutely everything together. Now they're off to university and Wren's decided she doesn't want to be one half of a pair any more - she wants to dance, meet boys, go to parties and let loose. It's not so easy for Cath. She's horribly shy and has always buried herself in the fan fiction she writes, where she always knows exactly what to say and can write a romance far more intense than anything she's experienced in real life. Without Wren Cath is completely on her own and totally outside her comfort zone. She's got a surly room-mate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words ...And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone. Now Cath has to decide whether she's ready to open her heart to new people and new experiences, and she's realizing that there's more to learn about love than she ever thought possible ...

Ah, I now understand why everyone was raving about this - everything about this was fun and easy to relate to, from fandoms to new beginnings. It was a real coming-of-age story, focusing on Cath and her new life at university, being forced to move on but still clinging to the safety of the Simon Snow fandom, which reminded me an awful lot of Harry Potter. 

I could completely empathise with Cath and her fear of new starts, the comfort of the fandom, the nerves of making new friends and moving out; she clings to the norm and that norm is her fanfiction. It doesn't matter than no one else understands, or thinks it's for kids, Cath finds comfort in writing what she knows and what is knows that that Simon and Baz love each other. Her writing professor doesn't see that way - plagiarism anyone? - but I can completely understand Cath's reluctance of letting them go. Hell, I haven't let Harry Potter go, in fact I've gotten worse! So Cath has her issues but her heart was in the right place. She has a strong connection with her twin and even though Wren was pushing her away, Cath will always be there to protect her and although it annoyed Wren, I thought it was admirable. 

The variety of characters was impressive, from the fun and light-hearted Levi to the cold and sarcastic Reagan; I always love Rowell's characters, so full of life and quirks and annoying habits that make you love them - or want to smack them, whichever. They all came together to part of the story in their own way, like Reagan intimating Cath out of her shell, or Wren utterly messing her life up, or Levi flirting with her, or Nick being an obnoxious arse. It was all so sweet and heartfelt and although Cath was taking baby steps, I was incredibly proud of her, for standing up for herself and coming out of her shell. It's taken me years to do that and I envy Cath for her strength. 

I cannot rave about this book enough. Actually I can but that would be a ridiculously long review! So I will stop here, with these final words: anyone who's ever felt out of place in the real world will appreciate this story of a young woman who grows up but does not need to let go of the fandom, because it is no longer just an escape but a complete love.

Published 30th January 2014 by Pan Macmillan.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Weekly Highlights: the 'Hachette' edition


Weekly Highlights is a feature borrowed from Faye of A Daydreamer's Thoughts, where I get to highlight my posts of the week, show you my new books and talk about bookish things! 

It's been a fun week - I went on holiday to the Lakes with my parents, for the first time in a decade! I got a fair amount of reading done but hardly any writing, sorry BBWriMo! The holiday was cut short so I could travel down to London for my first publishers event at Hachette! Although things didn't go according to plan (stupid trains) I had loads of fun, meet some awesome people including putting faces to names which was nice, and got some pretty looking books!

On The Blog
Review of Red by Alison Cherry (3 stars)
Review of The Name On Your Wrist by Helen Hiorns (5 stars)
Review of Heat Wave by Richard Castle (3 stars)

Currently Reading
Just finishing Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor, and next up is Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne

On My Bookshelf
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.


Yay, I've wanted to read this for ages! Thank you Faye!

Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that's left is a note telling her about a day she can't remember. The whole scenario doesn't exactly make high school or dating that hot guy whose name she can't seem to recall any easier. But when London starts experiencing disturbing visions she can't make sense of, she realizes it's time to learn a little more about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.

Thank you so much to Debbie for this, I've heard great things about it!

The rest are my haul from Hachette event on Thursday. They all look incredible and, flicking through the press releases, I've noticed I missed two that sound amazing!

Rock War by Robert Muchamore
Meet Jay. Summer. And Dylan.
Jay plays guitar, writes songs and dreams of being a rock star. But his ambitions are stifled by seven siblings and a terrible drummer.
Summer works hard at school, looks after her nan and has a one-in-a-million singing voice. But can her talent triumph over her nerves?
Dylan is happiest lying on his bunk smoking, but his school rugby coach has other ideas, and Dylan reluctantly joins a band to avoid crunching tackles and icy mud.
They're about to enter the biggest battle of their lives. And there's everything to play for.


Tease by Amanda Maciel
Emma Putnam is dead, and it's all Sara Wharton's fault.

At least, that's what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who's ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media.

During the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her role in an undeniable tragedy. And she'll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.


Quantum Drop by Saci Lloyd
Anthony Griffin is an ordinary kid caught up in a dangerous world. The boundaries between real and virtual are more and more blurred, and when Anthony’s girlfriend is taken out in a gang hit, he has to venture into the underground world of the Drop to flush out her killer and bring him to justice.

This is the story of a boy whose girl is worth more than money.


Riot by Sarah Mussi
It is 2018. England has been struggling under a recession that has shown no sign of abating. Years of cuts has devastated Britain: banks are going under, businesses closing, prices soaring, unemployment rising, prisons overflowing. The authorities cannot cope. And the population has maxed out.

The police are snowed under. Something has to give. Drastic measures need taking. The solution: forced sterilisation of all school leavers without secure further education plans or guaranteed employment. The country is aghast. Families are distraught, teenagers are in revolt, but the politicians are unshakeable: The population explosion must be curbed. No more free housing for single parents, no more child benefit, no more free school meals, no more children in need. Less means more.

But it is all so blatantly unfair - the Teen Haves will procreate, the Teen Havenots won't. It's time for the young to take to the streets. It's time for them to RIOT: OUR RIGHT TO CHOOSE, OUR BODIES, OUR FUTURE.