Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout

The Problem with ForeverWhen Mallory was a kid, she was bounced from one horrible foster home to another. At thirteen, a terrible accident got her removed from the group home where she was living to a hospital where she met the parents who would adopt her. But when she starts a new school and encounters an old friend from the foster system sparks start to fly.

I really like Armentrout's writing  and even though I've only read her supernatural romances, I was looking forward to a troubled contemporary. 

Mallory has had an insanely tough life, growing up in an abusive foster home. She had basically been conditioned to be as quiet as possible to avoid beatings, and has come a long way, difficult road with basically re-learning social skills. Finally though, she was confident to attend high school and there she meets (again) Rider, the boy who used to protect her, hide her, take the beatings for her.

Rider still has a hero complex, see's Mallory as "Mouse", the little girl in need of protecting. And although she has grown up now, Mallory likes him taking care of her, she does sometimes still need it and it is comforting to see Rider all grown up too. However, as they get closer, it becomes apparent that it is still a slightly damaging relationship as it takes them back to a horrible past. Mallory had been able to escape that life but Rider hadn't so much and this lack of confidence in himself is clear.

As it happens, a very cruel accident forced Mallory and Rider apart, but it takes a while to learn the details of it. But as they grew up differently after that, we see that while Mallory has more obvious problems, they both have issues that go beyond the surface. And getting to know the new them becomes another issue, as Rider lives in a tough part of town and his foster brothers are tangled in trouble.

I really liked this. I liked how Armentrout showed that some relationships are just ingrained into us and that something might seem good but can be damaging to our self-worth or confidence. And I especially liked how Mallory learned to put herself first, because as much as she loved Rider, she needed to know her mental health was just as important. Big parts of it was all sweeping romance, but it dealt with difficult domestic issues as well as gang violence, mental health and the foster care system.

Published 31st May 2016 by Mira Ink. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 24 June 2016

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)Feyre is immortal.

After rescuing her lover Tamlin from a wicked Faerie Queen, she returns to the Spring Court possessing the powers of the High Fae. But Feyre cannot forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people - nor the bargain she made with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court.

As Feyre is drawn ever deeper into Rhysand's dark web of politics and passion, war is looming and an evil far greater than any queen threatens to destroy everything Feyre has fought for. She must confront her past, embrace her gifts and decide her fate.

She must surrender her heart to heal a world torn in two.

I'm sure by now you've heard every opinion under the sun about this book - it definitely has split the fandom! So instead of a traditional review, I'm just going to give a few highlighted thoughts.

I know lots of people were annoyed about the change of love interest. And I thought I would be too, I mean Tamlin was just about the perfect hero in book one, right? But when he literally trapped Feyre in his castle and she had a panic attack? Yeah, I don't think so! I already had some feelings for Rhys from the first book, I thought it was a bit slimy and sarcastic but was very much putting on a face. This was developed very well in book two, as Feyre and Rhys get closer, it's evident that he is much more complicated that we thought, not to mention kind, generous and sweet.

Anyway, as much as I loved Feyre and Rhys together, and I did totally whoop out loud when something finally happened, I am a little torn for Tamlin. Then I remember what he did - and yes, he had his reasons but my thinking is that he either didn't notice or didn't want to notice that Feyre had changed, not just physically but emotionally, after their ordeal at the end of book one. Tam just couldn't see her as anything more than the poor little human girl and Feyre literally wasn't her anymore.

Anyway, enough of the romance talk! The story itself, Feyre learning to use her powers as a new evil lord is worming his way into their land, was brilliant. Balanced between budding romance and great thrilling adventure, Feyre learns more about herself and the complex Fae land and rules at Rhys' Nightmare Court. All in all, I really loved it - it was funny, very clever, surprisingly hot, and of course pulled together with Maas's brilliant writing.

Published 3rd May 2016 by Bloomsbury.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

RebeccaLast night I dreamt I went to Manderley again...

Working as a lady's companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Her future looks bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Max de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding housekeeper, Mrs Danvers...

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman. An international bestseller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

I already kind of knew the story from reading New Girl,  a modern retelling, but knew next to nothing about the actual book. And while it was a bit slow to start but about half way through, I started to really get it. There's something about her writing that pulls you in without even realising.

Told in retrospect, the otherwise nameless Mrs de Winter remembers how she fell in love with Maxim and how young and foolish she was in her behaviour. Haunted by the memory of Maxim's ex-wife Rebecca, Mrs de Winter is cautious in her new role as mistress of the household. She was careful, quiet, almost suspicious and definitely had an over-active imagination. As for her new husband, Maxim was a bit of a tool, to be honest. Twice her age, he treats his new wife as a child to be scolded and patted on the head as such, and she acts this up intentionally because at least she's getting his attention. He is dismissive and condescending, until his confession - which blew my mind by the way! - and then he depends on her, they share a secret and it's them against the world.

Almost a third party in their relationship is Mrs Danvers. Determined to keep the memory of Rebecca alive, she manipulates and scares the new Mrs de Winter into traps that hurt Maxim, their friends and the staff. Mrs Danvers was just an awful woman, twisted and horrible in her deceit and completely two-faced in her behaviour with Mrs de Winter as opposed to the rest of the house. Fantastic as the antagonist, she made my blood boil at certain times!

All in all, a surprisingly clever story that encompasses love, loyalty and secrets, with an enthralling writing style and a mad mix of characters.

Published 1st December 2007 by Virago Press. First published May 1938.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands, #1)"Tell me that and we'll go. Right now. Save ourselves and leave this place to burn. Tell me that's how you want your story to go and we'll write it straight across the sand."

Dustwalk is an unforgiving, dead-end town. It's not the place to be poor or orphaned or female. And yet Amani Al'Hiza must call it 'home'.

Amani wants to escape and see the world she's heard about in campfire stories.

Then a foreigner with no name turns up, and with him she has the chance to run.

But the desert plains are full of dangerous magic. The Sultan's army is on the rise and Amani is soon caught at the heart of a fearless rebellion...

An epic story of swirling desert sands, love, magic and revolution.

Honestly, I was a bit apprehensive, especially as everyone has been raving about it, but really loved it. Just everything about this story was enthralling and interesting. Amani wanted to escape her little dusty town, where all that awaited her was a loveless marriage. What I loved straight away about Amani was how independent she was; she knew she couldn't rely on anyone to help her escape. So she uses her impressive skills to win money in a shooting game. Unfortunately things don't go according to plan, not when a stranger turns up and the shooting game turns into a bar-room brawl.

Loyal almost to a fault, sarcastic and funny, Amani was an amazing character to follow as she ran from everything recognisable and got caught up in a revolution with a boy she barely knows. And Jin was just... sigh. Almost devilishly handsome and charming, and he knew it, the chemistry between him and Amani was sizzling and while I am a sucker for a good romance, I appreciated that it didn't overrule the main story and it wasn't either of theirs main concern while running for their lives. Saying that, I did adore their relationship, how they pushed and supported each other.

I loved the mix of old Western and Aladdin style mythology; it was all magical horses made of sand and tricky djinni's and lost princes looking to reclaim his throne. Plus we learned about half-djinni's, dangerous and powerful people from a human and djinni pairing. Even though it was all supernatural, the fear and hatred towards these people was horribly similar to our world and it made my heart hurt.

I could rave about this a lot more, very easily, but I'm going to stop and finish with: magical, romantic and a true adventure, this is a fantastic debut and definitely an author to watch. When's book two out?

Published 4th February 2016 by Faber and Faber.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke

The Lost and the FoundLOST.

When six-year-old Laurel Logan was abducted, the only witness was her younger sister. Faith’s childhood was dominated by Laurel’s disappearance – from her parents’ broken marriage and the constant media attention to dealing with so-called friends who only ever wanted to talk about her sister.


Thirteen years later, a young woman is found in the garden of the Logans’ old house, disorientated and clutching the teddy bear Laurel was last seen with. Laurel is home at last, safe and sound. Faith always dreamed of getting her sister back, without ever truly believing it would happen. But a disturbing series of events leaves Faith increasingly isolated and paranoid, and before long she begins to wonder if everything that’s lost can be found again…

Faith has grown up in the shadow of her big sister, even though she isn't there. So when Laurel suddenly turns up, Faith is torn; obviously she's glad to have her sister back but she's basically grown up an only child and Laurel is going to change things. I loved how honestly this confliction was portrayed, as the moment Faith had a bad thought about Laurel she immediately went back on herself.

As Laurel finds herself back in her place in her family, everything is altered. Not only is Faith feeling confused, but their mum is hell-bent on making sure Laurel is comfortable to the point of being annoying, their dad is back in their house even though he moved out and is with a new partner. Speaking of, I loved this little side story of their dad being bisexual and how this has affected their lives, both before and after Laurel's return.

A huge part of the story is the influence and impact of the media. As a cute little white girl, Laurel's disappearance was front-page news and her parents money allowed it to stay in the public domain. And of course when she returns, Laurel and her family once again is big news as everyone wants to know what happened to her and how she's settling back in. There was TV interviews, book deals, harassing reporters and all sorts to deal with, and that is something that we don't think about when we see this on our tellies.

I kept on waiting for the other shoe to drop; I expect the very worst from Clarke and that grittiness is something I love in her books. The dark revelation came later than I expected, not that what happened to Laurel wasn't dark enough of course, but I had a horrible feeling there would be a twist. It was the very last chapter that completely threw me. Another hit for Clarke, I think, one that makes you think and breaks your heart.

Published 2nd July 2015 by Quercus.

Friday, 10 June 2016

The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

The Unexpected EverythingAndie has a plan. And she always sticks to her plan.
Future? A top-tier medical school.
Dad? Avoid him as much as possible (which isn’t that hard considering he’s a Congressman and he’s never around).
Friends? Palmer, Bri, and Toby—pretty much the most awesome people on the planet, who needs anyone else?
Relationships? No one’s worth more than three weeks.

So it’s no surprise that Andie’s got her summer all planned out too.

Until a political scandal costs Andie her summer pre-med internship, and lands both she and Dad back in the same house together for the first time in years. Suddenly she’s doing things that aren’t Andie at all—working as a dog walker, doing an epic scavenger hunt with her dad, and maybe, just maybe, letting the super cute Clark get closer than she expected. Palmer, Bri, and Toby tell her to embrace all the chaos, but can she really let go of her control?

Andie was a very interesting character: daughter of a politician, she was used to acting a certain way, having her day planned out, worrying about her image lest it reflect badly for her dad's career. She also had aspirations of her own, to get into a very competitive pre-med program. All of which flies out the window when her dad's office is caught in a fraud scandal and she is no longer guaranteed a place for the summer program. That's how she finds herself working as a dog-walker and getting to know Clark, the handsome stranger who is here for the summer.

Clark was all kinds of fantastic; sweet, a little unsure of himself, basically a huge dork, supported by his highly-successful fantasy series. I loved how Clark's writing contradicted so many assumptions:he was young yet so successful,;he had already written two great books but was suffering from some serious writers block, which bought in questions of self-worth.

I really liked the progression of a proper relationship between Andie and her dad. Even though they'd already been through so much together, not just his political career but losing Andie's mother to cancer, they were basically strangers. But fate intervenes and forces them to talk more honestly, about Andie's plans, about her life, and they bond in a much better and stronger way. Often in YA we just have absent parents and that's that but here, Andie wants a relationship with her dad and they both work towards it, and I really appreciated that.

I also loved Andie's friends, they all had such different personalities and bought something unique to the group dynamic. They were mostly supporting cast in Andie's story but had detailed and clever back stories that helped all of their progression or showed how far, or in fact how little, Andie had come. All in all, once again Matson's writing has blown me away, it was so funny and clever and heartfelt.

Published 5th May 2016 by Simon and Schuster.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer

Stars AboveThe enchantment continues....
The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?

With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.

I loved all of this; seeing my beloved character's pasts, getting a deeper explanation for their development, was all kinds of fantastic. From little Winter and Jacin playing in the palace to meeting Scarlet's grandmother properly, as Michelle shelters young Cinder, all of these short stories had something to offer into the world and my favourite characters.

And it all came together for the epilogue, where we see them all once again, preparing for Scarlet and Wolf's wedding. I just completely fell in love with them and their world all over again, desperate to give them all a giant hug and re-read this series. 

Seeing more from these characters and the world reinforces this as one of my favourite ever series of books, as Meyer explores their background, how they came to develop into the characters we recognise and how this world changed them, for better or worse. All in all, a brilliant collection that just adds to my love.

Published 3rd February 2016 by Feiwel and Friends.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Weekly Highlights: the 'June TBR' 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!

What with it being half term and my lovely term-time only contract allowing me some much needed time off, I took the week off from blog writing (read: forgot to write anything). The time, obviously, didn't seem to last very long but I got loads of stuff done that I've been putting off so that's good, plus I had the luxurious time to read A Court of Mist and Fury. 

On The Blog
Review of Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
Review of Soldier by Julie Kagawa
Review of The Girl of Ink and Stars by Kiran Milwood Hargrave
Review of The Loneliness of Distant Beings by Kate Ling
Review of Never Evers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
Review of London Belongs To Us by Sarra Manning

Currently Reading
At time of writing, I've just This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales, which I'm really looking forward to delving into.

On My Bookshelf
A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas
Feyre is immortal.

After rescuing her lover Tamlin from a wicked Faerie Queen, she returns to the Spring Court possessing the powers of the High Fae. But Feyre cannot forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people - nor the bargain she made with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court.

As Feyre is drawn ever deeper into Rhysand's dark web of politics and passion, war is looming and an evil far greater than any queen threatens to destroy everything Feyre has fought for. She must confront her past, embrace her gifts and decide her fate.

She must surrender her heart to heal a world torn in two.

Yes! I devoured this 600 page monster this past week and holy crap! I have both no words and so many words! Review will be up soon.

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L Armentrout
When Mallory was a kid, she was bounced from one horrible foster home to another. At thirteen, a terrible accident got her removed from the group home where she was living to a hospital where she met the parents who would adopt her. But when she starts a new school and encounters an old friend from the foster system sparks start to fly.

I really like Armentrout's books so I have quite high hopes for this. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley.

 Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones.

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are.

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

When We Collided by Emery Lord
Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi's zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there's something important Vivi hasn't told him.

Frenchman's Creek by Daphne Du Maurier
The Restoration Court knows Lady Dona St Columb to be ripe for any folly, any outrage that will relieve the tedium of her days. But there is another, secret Dona who longs for a life of honest love - and sweetness, even if it is spiced with danger. Dona flees London for remote Navron, looking for peace of mind in its solitary woods and hidden creeks. She finds there the passion her spirit craves - in the love of a daring pirate hunted across Cornwall, a Frenchman who, like Dona, would gamble his life for a moment's joy. 

These 3 I've been eyeing for a while and with pay day just before half term, I treated myself. I'm looking forward to all of them and thank you to Sophie for recommending my next Du Maurier.

I was also sent some lovely books from the equally lovely Sophie: The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson, Under Rose Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall, Night Wanderers by CJ Flood and Mystery and Mayham by Katherine Woodfine and others. Links go to their Goodreads pages. I've already read The Unexpected Everything, which was awesome!

June TBR
I didn't have time to get to my new Armentrout book so that's top of the pile. Also on the list is Songs About A Girl by Chris Russell, Under Rose Tainted Skies and of course my classic pick for the month: Frenchman's Creek. Is there anything from my recent haul I should push to the top of my TBR?