Friday, 30 January 2015

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.

Part psychological drama, part romance, and part mystery, this thought-provoking novel will inspire readers to consider the what-if's in their own lives and recognize the power they have to control their destinies.

My first Cat Patrick book told of a very strange concept, memory working backwards. All through the story, I was caught up trying to keep track of backwards and forwards, realising that London didn't remember the day before. London has a system to keep pretences and pretend to be normal: writing herself notes to remember homework, set texts and important things with her one true friend.

Everything goes a little off-kilter when London meets a cute boy that she can't remember from her future so she does a terrible thing: lies to herself and leaves him out of her notes. But then they keep talking, Luke winds into her life and helps her deal with her strange memory. London also had a great friendship with best friend Jamie; however it was very awkward that London knows what will happen, especially the bad ending to this exciting and forbidden relationship Jamie has just started.

Then London remembers a funeral that she can't place. As she begins to question this one memory, she has to deal with some terrible things from her future and her past. And in doing so, she changes her relationship with Luke, her mother and her absent father by dealing with this truly awful memory and even discovers the reason for her strange memory being backward. The whole story was compelling and fascinating, even though it was very mind-boggling! 

Published 6th June 2011 by Egmont. 

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Coldest Girl In Coldtown by Holly Black

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown's gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

A very dark and violent story set in a world where vampirism has spread like a disease and Coldtown's have been set up to contain them and their human feeders. People can enter but no one leaves. Reality TV romanticises the vampires, their parties, even their victims but some still know the truth of the horror, especially Tana. Tana is left to fend for herself with her Cold ex-boyfriend and a secretive vampire who may or may not be on the run from the toughest vamp out there; they flee a party and head for the nearest Coldtown where Tana and Aidan can possibly turn into vampires safely. 

I didn't always understand Tana but did really like her, she was somewhat impulsive but cared for her family who she'd left behind, and her friends in Coldtown. We saw into her past and the defining moment with her mother turning Cold and attacking her. Tana was a very interesting character, very complex as she empathised with the down-trodden and did everything she could to protect her younger sister, even from across the state. Gavriel, the mad vampire runaway, was very entertaining. Clearly mental and spoke some nonsense but clever and fascinating to read. Black did a very good job with these characters, unfortunately sometimes I couldn't quite connect with them the way I wanted to, especially Tana. The main reason was her weird relationship with Aidan, I just did not understand their game of chicken. 

Seeing a Coldtown from the inside was almost surreal; it was gritty and dark and quite gross, full of gory details with vampires feeding and killing. Black also did an incredible job with the vampire hierarchy, from hyper, newly turned vamps to ancient and violent vampires who rule huge armies. And Tana was stuck in the middle, pulled in by Gavriel and his personal vendetta. Theirs was an amazing story and admittedly, I got a little lost as they took huge gambles but it was breathtaking to read and refreshing to find a new take on vampires. 

Published 3rd September 2013 by Little, Brown. 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Weekly Highlights: the 'I Think I Broke My Foot' 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 while! I've been insanely good and haven't bought any new books until this week so I thought I would share them with you. In other news, work is going slowly; I'm down to one day a week so I'm trying to fill my time with productive things. And finally, I'm sure you want to know what the hell I did to my foot. Unfortunately nothing exciting, I just pulled a tendon under my ankle and it hurts to stretch or put weight on it. I'm braving work today so send me some mental hugs, they are always appreciated! 

On The Blog
Review of Talon by Julie Kagawa (5 stars)
Review of Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (4 stars)
Review of It's The End of the World As We Know It by Saci Lloyd (3 stars)
Review of The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern (5 stars)
Review of Ten Things We Shouldn't Have Done by Sarah Mlynowski (4 stars)

Currently Reading
Fracture by Megan Miranda - barely half way through but so far so good, very interesting and slightly creepy concept. 

On My Bookshelf
Crown Of Midnight and Heir Of Fire by Sarah J Maas 
I finally read Throne of Glass last week and it was completely amazing! So I treated myself to the next two books in the series. I won't put the synopsis' in case of spoilers but you all know this series so I will be getting to them soon.

The Rain by Virginia Bergin
It's in the rain...and just one drop will kill you.

They don't believe it at first. Crowded in Zach's kitchen, Ruby and the rest of the partygoers laugh at Zach's parents' frenzied push to get them all inside as it starts to drizzle. But then the radio comes on with the warning, "It's in the rain! It's fatal, it's contagious, and there's no cure."

Two weeks later, Ruby is alone. Anyone who's been touched by rain or washed their hands with tap water is dead. The only drinkable water is quickly running out. Ruby's only chance for survival is a treacherous hike across the country to find her father-if he's even still alive.

I've seen this around making a bang in the book world but didn't find it on Netgalley until recently. Plus, Lucy has said that our hometown in mentioned and I am intrigued! Thank you Netgalley!

The Dagger in the Desk by Jonathan Stroud 
In London, a mysterious and potentially deadly ghost is stalking the halls of St Simeon’s Academy for Talented Youngsters. It lurks in the shadows, spreading fear and icy cold – and it carries a sharp and very solid dagger . . .

The headmaster wastes no time in enlisting the help of ghost-hunters Anthony Lockwood, Lucy Carlyle and George Cubbins.

Can Lockwood & Co. survive the night and save the day?

I requested this on Netgalley thinking it was the third but it's actually 1.5 in the Lockwood and Co series - I don't mind, I'll read anything with Anthony Lockwood in! Thank you Netgalley!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Ten Things We Shouldn't Have Done by Sarah Mlynowski

2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn't have.

If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn't jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe "opportunity" isn't the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: "Lied to Our Parents"). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up "Skipping School" (#3), "Throwing a Crazy Party" (#8), "Buying a Hot Tub" (#4), and, um, "Harboring a Fugitive" (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.

In this hilarious and bittersweet tale, Sarah Mlynowski mines the heart and mind of a girl on her own for the first time. To get through the year, April will have to juggle a love triangle, learn to do her own laundry, and accept that her carefully constructed world just might be falling apart . . . one thing-she-shouldn't-have-done at a time.

April persuades her father to leave her at a friend's house rather than dragging her across the country the middle of senior year. She doesn't want to leave her friends, her boyfriend, her home and sets about proving she is responsible to handle living by herself. However, friend Vi left out one detail: her mother wouldn't be there to look after them. Parentless, the girls go a little crazy! 

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this other than a funny, quick read. And it was, very funny indeed, but it also had an undercurrent of responsibility, real adult problems,  like doing your own food shopping, dealing with an absent parent and losing your virginity. By balancing the two, the stupid and the serious, it came across as very real, even as they splurge on a hot tub in the middle of winter! 

Each title corresponds to a broken rule, either intentional or not, and the following consequences that April and Vi have to deal with. This made it very interesting to read and added a little something special to the narrative as I looked for clues. Some rules were serious, like lying to April's parents, while others were almost rites of passage, like the crazy house party. Learning to life by herself turns out to be a lot more complicated than April anticipated and things are made worse by pressure from her boyfriend. First love and the seriousness of losing your virginity is a big deal and I was glad to see that April handled things responsibly, until she does something stupid. Portraying safe sex is something that more YA novels need to do, not just romanticise the whole concept. 

I really enjoyed this; it might not be anything special but it was a very good story with realistic characters portraying good and bad relationships. It was funny and sweet, part romance and part pure stupidity but overall just plain teenage fun. 

Published 1st August 2011 by Orchard Books.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

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 Reves," 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 per-formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

I really don't know why I waited so long to read this; I've heard so many amazing things about this and I've always wanted to pick it up. It was a truly awe-inspiring story, full of magic and skilful enchanters and secretive competitions. It told of Celia and Marco, just children when they were chosen to take part in a test of skill and creativity that would last a life time. It was both magical and historical, set over many years during the turn of the century as we watch Celia and Marco grow up and develop their own illusion skill set to battle it out in the circus.

The circus itself was so incredible, I have no words! It moved across the world, collecting loyal visitors and astounding the public with tricks of the mind. It was fantastical and whimsical in the best way, but the actual amazing part was that there were no tricks, it was all held together by Celia and Marco's will alone and each magical tent was a demonstration of their imagination. 

Speaking of Celia and Marco, seeing them grow up alongside each other without knowing their competitor was very interesting; the whole competition was cruel, yes, as the rules were flaky to say the least and would only end with one of them dead, but what they created in the circus was beyond them. As we see, over the years, the circus becomes a home, not just for the travellers but for the visitors, a place of wonder that anyone can enjoy and will welcome you. 

This story is one that will stay with me and has definitely become one of my all time favourites. A simple love story entangled and complicated by this egotistical competition, where magic exists and is a power to be reckoned with. A truly enchanting read that comes with the highest of recommendations from this blogger. 

Published 24th May 2012 by Vintage Books. 

Thursday, 15 January 2015

It's The End of the World As We Know It by Saci Lloyd

Welcome to a world controlled by a megalomaniac Lolcat. A world where data pirates, zombies and infobots on surfboards roam free. A world at war over cheese ... When teenager Mikey Malone gets sucked through a wormhole into this parallel world, he discovers a power-crazed corporation is planning to use Earth as a dumping ground for an uncontrollable poisonous algae. It's a race against time for Mikey and his rebel friends to stop the ruthless tyrants from getting their way.

Named as a mix of Hitchhikers Guide and Terry Pratchett, this was very funny and an entertaining read but not one for me. Overall, it was just a little too strange for me to wrap my head around and that took something from the enjoyment of losing myself in the story.

It told of Mikey as he tries to sweet-talk a cute girl into his lair and getting sucked through a portal to an alternate universe. All very well but this was where the sci-fi ended, as the alternate universe was full of nonsense characters, hilarious mishaps and running for their lives from a giant, mind-reading cat. We got to know Kix and her tiny robot BitZer, and their struggles in this strange world as they help Mikey get home. 

I found it often difficult to read, sometimes because of the pig latin-type language that the little robots spoke in, sometimes because it was just so ridiculous that I wasn't sure what was happening! Even after I finished the book, I'm still not entirely sure what the plotline was supposed to be for this, apart from general confusion as the oddball gang try to find and fix the wormhole. Saying that, I believe this is the first in a series so not all questions were answered and set things up very nicely for the next book, especially in terms of complex story and extra complex world building.

A great book for fans of the ridiculous and the weird and wonderful type of sci-fi, but it was not for me.

Published 1st January 2015 by Hodder Children's. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Blogoversary Give away!

It's been three whole years since I started this blog and I'm so proud of what I've done with it and spreading the book love! To celebrate, I'm having a big giveaway of my favourite 2014 releases! Below is a list of books you could win and a rafflecopter widget to enter. All books will be ordered by The Book Depository so when I contact the winner, you will need to pass on a postal address that TBD is able to deliver to, as well as tell me your choice of book.

The End of the World As We Know It by Iva-Marie Palmer
Shut Out by Kody Keplinger
The Fearless by Emma Pass
The Worst Girlfriend in the World by Sarra Manning
The Memory Keepers by Natasha Ngan
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Solitaire by Alice Oseman
Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It runs for a fortnight so good luck and see you soon for the winner announcement!

Edit: If I'm not the only one having issues viewing the rafflecopter widget, you can still enter by commenting with your twitter handle. Ends Sunday 25th at midnight

Friday, 9 January 2015

Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a Web-design drone and serendipity coupled with sheer curiosity has landed him a new job working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. And it doesn't take long for Clay to realize that the quiet, dusty book emporium is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few fanatically committed customers, but they never seem to actually buy anything, instead they simply borrow impossibly obscure volumes perched on dangerously high shelves, all according to some elaborate arrangement with the eccentric proprietor. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he has plugged in his laptop, roped in his friends (and a cute girl who works for Google) and embarked on a high-tech analysis of the customers' behaviour. What they discover is an ancient secret that can only be solved by modern means, and a global-conspiracy guarded by Mr. Penumbra himself... who has mysteriously disappeared.

A 24 hour book store is every book lovers dream but this has added mystery. 
Clay is a typical guy, stuck in the blow-backs of the economy and in need of a job. It is then that he stumbles upon a small, indie book store and meets Mr Penumbra. I really liked Clay and his situation is one that I can sympathise with all too easily. Plus he was one of those modern guys that loved the high tech but also appreciated the old knowledge in books.

There is mystery afoot at Mr Penumbra's book store and Clay is determined to figure it out. It begins with old customers requesting strange titled books, then Clay using his IT skills to make a 3D model of the shop and seeing a pattern. This pattern, as it turns out, is part of an ancient secret to eternal life and Clay and his friends find themselves drawn into an underground world of conspiracy. It sounds ridiculous and Clay definitely believed it was, but it was also fascinating and engaging and a little bit hysterical. 

The whole story speaks my language of both the love of books and the capability of computers; it blended the old and new, bridged the gap between tradition and the internet generation, books and Google. It was completely absorbing to read, as strange as it was, with a wide range of characters, everyone from a rude artist, a humble millionaire and an eccentric bookseller on the fence between adorable and insane. Definitely one to keep an eye out for if you love books and all the secrets they hold.

Published 27th Feburary 2014 by Atlantic Books. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Talon by Julie Kagawa

‘There are a dozen soldiers hiding in that maze All hunting you. All looking to kill you.’

To the outside world Ember Hill is an ordinary girl, but Ember has a deadly secret. A dragon hiding in human form, she is destined to fight the shadowy Order of St.George, a powerful society of dragonslayers. St. George soldier Garret is determined to kill Ember and her kind. Until her bravery makes him question all he’s been taught about dragons.

Now a war is coming and Garret and Ember must choose their sides – fight to save their bond or fulfil their fate and destroy one another.

The first in a new series by Julie Kagawa, who wrote one of my favourite vampire series ever. I absolutely adore her writing style, so funny and heartfelt and dramatic so I was expecting big things from this one. And boy did she deliver! 

I have always had a thing for dragons. All mythological creatures really, but dragons are the big ones, so to speak. Reading about dragons hiding in plain sight was always going to be right up my street but seeing things from the other side too, the Order of St George, trained to hunt down and kill the terrifying animals, was very interesting and sometimes difficult. I can understand why they were being hunted, logically and historically, but after hearing from Ember, a young girl, just a hatchling, makes you see these creatures differently. And that was the point: there is always two sides to a story and be getting to know Ember, Garret began to understand the complexity of the fight. It was amazing and a little bit heartbreaking to see them fall for each other without knowing that they were, essentially, mortal enemies. Talk about betrayal! 

It was also written from multiple perspectives, firstly from Ember and Garret then adding in Riley, the rogue dragon who is trying to persuade Ember away from the organisation she's known all her life. It made everything all the more blurry about who was the bad guy, and of course the love story all the more complicated. Ember was great at playing a teenage girl because she is naturally stubborn and fiery and curious, and once Garret got to know her, he realised that the animals he was trained to hate are just like him. 

It was all very complicated but also full of adventure as Ember and her brother are allowed out of the compound for the first time, as they encounter a rogue who brings into question all that they thought they knew, and real emotion as Ember falls for a lowly human. As you might have guessed, I loved this book; it was a great story with amazing characters with all their grey areas, add in a government conspiracy and a forbidden romance and you've got the start of an amazing series.

Published 15th January 2015 by Mira Ink. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Weekly Highlights: the 'Happy New Year' 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!

The new year is off to a fine start! I've had a few days off work, starting back again today, so I've had a chance to de-clutter my room after Christmas, spend some Christmas money and had a relaxing few days. Hope everyone else has had a relaxing, reading-filled break and a happy new year!

On The Blog
Review of My True Love Gave To Me by Stephanie Perkins (5 stars)
Review of Breaking The Rules by Katie McGarry (5 stars)

Currently Reading
I've just started The Night Circus, which I've been looking forward to for ages! Can't wait to get stuck in to this magical story.

On My Bookshelf
Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just...disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough. Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a stranger? Um...

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she'll find?

Go skinny-dipping? 

I treated myself to this as it was in the Kindle sale - it's been on my wishlist for a while and it sounds like an amazing summer rom-com.

Ten Things We Shouldn't Have Done by Sarah Mlynowski
2 girls + 3 guys + 1 house – parents = 10 things April and her friends did that they (definitely, maybe, probably) shouldn't have.

If given the opportunity, what sixteen-year-old wouldn't jump at the chance to move in with a friend and live parent-free? Although maybe "opportunity" isn't the right word, since April had to tell her dad a tiny little untruth to make it happen (see #1: "Lied to Our Parents"). But she and her housemate Vi are totally responsible and able to take care of themselves. How they ended up "Skipping School" (#3), "Throwing a Crazy Party" (#8), "Buying a Hot Tub" (#4), and, um, "Harboring a Fugitive" (#7) at all is kind of a mystery to them.

Ah, the joys of getting book tokens for Christmas! I've had my eye on this since I read her latest book so I can't wait to see what else she has in store.

Lips Touch by Laini Taylor

Three tales of supernatural love, each pivoting on a kiss that is no mere kiss, but an action with profound consequences for the kissers' souls:

Goblin Fruit
In Victorian times, goblin men had only to offer young girls sumptuous fruits to tempt them to sell their souls. But what does it take to tempt today's savvy girls?

Spicy Little Curses
A demon and the ambassador to Hell tussle over the soul of a beautiful English girl in India. Matters become complicated when she falls in love and decides to test her curse.

Six days before Esme's fourteenth birthday, her left eye turns from brown to blue. She little suspects what the change heralds, but her small safe life begins to unravel at once. What does the beautiful, fanged man want with her, and how is her fate connected to a mysterious race of demons?

I love Laini Taylor and I absolutely love the poem The Goblin Market - one of the only poems I actually like, incidentally! - so I am really looking forward to this.

I also got City of Glass, Fallen Angels, and Lost Souls, books 3-5 in the Mortal Instrument series by Cassandra Clare. As soon as I get my hands on the last book, I'm going to marathon the series.

2015/January TBR
This year, I'm aiming for 120 book. Considering I managed 135 last year, I think I'll be ok! Coming up in January will be some of my new books, I'm thinking The Coldest Girl in Coldtown and Ten Things We Shouldn't Have Done. Then it's up to my TBR jar!

In other news, I will be joining in the new year Bout of Books! I haven't done one of these since last summer and I think it's a great way to kick off the new year with lots of good reading. Plus, I don't know about you, but I've been looking at all my new books and having little panics because I want to read them all right now! Anyway, Bout of Books starts tomorrow, Monday 5th, until next Sunday. Since I don't know my work schedule yet, I'm just going to aim for two books and see how I go. Click here if you want to join in the fun.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Breaking The Rules by Katie McGarry

“I wish life could be like this forever,” I say. “We’d be okay then. We’d forever be okay.”

For Echo Emerson, a road trip with her boyfriend is the perfect way to spend the last summer between school and college. It’s a chance forget all the things that make her so different at home. But most of all, it means almost three months alone with gorgeous Noah Hutchins, the only boy who’s never judged her.

Echo and Noah share everything. But as their pasts come crashing back into their lives, its harder to hide that they come from two very different worlds. And as the summer fades, Echo faces her toughest decision – struggle to face the future together or let her first love go…

This takes place right after Pushing The Limits, we go back to see the rest of Echo and Noah's journey over the summer. I loved Echo and Noah's story so I couldn't wait to hear more from them, even knowing what happens afterward. We see them as they make their way across the country, selling Echo's art and trying to make a name for herself. Unfortunately, her mother's reputation precedes her and many curators don't want anything to do with her. 

Along with a dwindling self-esteem, Echo is also dealing with the growing intimacy between her and Noah. She is understandably terrified of letting Noah too close and of getting hurt; after all, Aries left her, her parents left her, why would Noah, a guy with a bad reputation be any different? Lucky for her, Noah - despite his communication problems - really does love her and would do anything to make her happy, even ignore his own hormones. When things finally did happen, I loved how realistically it was portrayed: awkward yet loving. And, the one big thing I really loved was that it didn't change their relationship. Sure, Noah screwed up but it came back around and it wasn't just all sex, all the time. It was about the intimacy and the closeness between them, no more lies and all that. 

There were plenty of other things to be dealt with too; like Echo's mother, Noah's family, his bad-boy reputation catching up with him, to name but a few. All of these things came between them, some pretty close to breaking them, and even though both of them really need to work on their "talking things through" means of communication, in the end, their relationship got stronger. And that's what I really love about McGarry's stories; there's no happily-ever-after, there is always work to be done as well as sacrifices to be made, but the relationships are always real and worth it. Echo and Noah came through some really tough stuff with a better understanding of each other and themselves.

Published 1st January 2015 by Mira Ink. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.