Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Top Ten Books of the Year So Far!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

There is no way I could put these in any actual order of favourites so they are in order I read them. I've also kept it exclusive to 2017 releases, just to keep from going mental.

Unconventional1 - Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt
What can I say about this book that I haven't already gushed over? It was a brilliant love letter to cons and nerd life and falling in love with someone exceptional.

2 - Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
There was so many amazing things about this book, but what I look back on is two main things: the adorable romance and the incredible diversity.

3 - The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury
The epic finale to Mel's Sin Eater's Daughter trilogy took my breath away and scared me beyond belief! Which I'm sure was her desired effect.

4 - The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Again, great love story - actually a few of them - and great diversity. Just all around smooshiness in this book, which is my favourite thing ever.

Doing It!: Let's Talk About Sex5 - Doing It! by Hannah Witton
I adore Hannah's YouTube videos and her voice is funny and refreshing and sometimes embarrassingly honest. Chock full of information that sex-ed just didn't get to or bother with.

6 - Truth of Dare by Non Pratt
I just wrote my review for this book last week and I still can't find the words for how incredible Non's teenage characters are. Both were just brilliant and so funny and lifelike that I wanted to smack and hug them both at various intervals. 

7 - Geekerella by Ashley Poston
When Dimple Met RishiAnother love letter to geek life! I'm sensing a theme here... This one was a Cinderella retelling, which I thought might be a stretch but actually worked perfectly. So cute and can definitely see myself re-reading every year.

8 - When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
This is everyone's favourite book of the year and I am no exception! Funny, cute and all kinds of adorkable.

Ok, so my list is only 8 books long - I'm still happy with that! My reading has been really weird this year so these 8 amazing books from the 50-odd I've read so far, I'm counting that as a win.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt

Truth or Dare

How far is too far when it comes to the people you love? Claire Casey hates being the centre of attention. But if it means getting Sef Malik to notice her, it’s a risk she’s happy to take. Sef is prepared to do anything to help his recently disabled brother. But this means putting Claire’s love – and life – on the line. Because when you're willing to risk everything, what is there left to lose?

Told in two halves, between Claire and Sef, and sort of before and after, we see how both of them grow closer together but also grow as an internet sensation.

Claire has just started volunteering at the local hospital, reading to patients. Her first and main one is Kam, who had a terrible accident that left him in a coma for days. When she bumps into Sef, Kam's younger brother, they are both desperate to do something to help. Only problem is that he needs thousands of pounds to continue with his care and they only have 6 months to raise it.

Both clever and sad, Sef and Claire use the power of social media to raise awareness of their cause but get increasing drastic and dangerous as their deadline looms. I loved the use of YouTube and the under belly of the internet, as they encounter trolls, bullying and dangerous suggestions for dares. It was also lovely and diverse, as Claire's best friend is asexual and Sef's family is... argh, I can't remember but basically non-white (there was a great line about where he's from: "Britain, duh") which also opens them up to nasty comments, both in person and online.

Even though they are trying desperately to raise money for Kam's care, lots of other little issues crop up without feeling overbearing. Things like family, love and sexuality, but also racism, body confidence and disability, both Claire and Sef had to deal with as they get more out of control and reckless in their attempts to raise money. 

All in all, this was a fantastic book, an amazing story about love and sacrifice that had my heart in my throat and/or tears in my eyes. Non has once again proven she can write realistic but brilliant teenagers from all walks of life.

Published 1st June 2017 by Walker. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Top Ten Series I Would Start If Not For Other Things

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's theme is something we all have in common: a list of series that we said we were going to read but somehow haven't yet. For whatever reason, the intention is there but the physical books haven't reached our hands yet. I did this list a few years back and a few of them are still on today's list. Whoops!

Across the Universe (Across the Universe, #1)1 - Across the Universe by Beth Revis
This is one from the previous list and I really have no idea why I haven't picked this up, I mean it's set in space!

2 - Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
Another one from the previous list and again, I have no good reason for not reading it yet. Shame on me.

3 - Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
Argh, why have I not read this yet? Honestly, I think this might have passed me by and now my tastes are different, I won't like it.

4 - Blue by Lisa Glass
Heard great things about this series but I cannot find it anyway physically, and honestly, as a non-sporty person, will a book about surfing put me off? Still want to read it though, especially in this heat!

Giant Days, Vol. 1 (Giant Days, #1)5 - Giant Days by John Allison
Whoo, a graphic novel made the list! This is one book that I am desperate to get my hands on, it's a graphic novel set in university, and the only reason I haven't read it yet is because my comic book shop don't have it in stock!

6 - The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
Just a duology but another that I haven't been able to spy in bookshelves so never remember to buy it. Want to though, it's assassins and pirates, I'm happy!

7 - Wool by Hugh Howey
This is one that is supposed to be for fans of The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, but it's such a big series! I mean, it's only 3 books but all are over 500 pages!

8 - Defiance by CJ Redwine
Rivers of London (Peter Grant, #1)We have a copy of this in the library where I work and every time I tidy that area, I eye it up but haven't picked it up yet. I don't know why, maybe I'm just not really feeling dystopians at the moment, but some day!

9 - Rivers of London by Ben Aaronvitch
A friend of mine hails these books and they sounds incredible but once again, I fail at picking up books! Even though they sound right up my alley, I mean it's magic in London, come on!

10 - Soulless by Gail Carriger
This is definitely more my speed with magic in regency times but it's not something I come across on bookshelves very often so I haven't had a chance to pick it up yet. 

Friday, 16 June 2017

Flight of a Starling by Lisa Heathfield

Flight of a StarlingRita and Lo, sisters and best friends, have spent their lives on the wing – flying through the air in their trapeze act, never staying in one place for long. Behind the greasepaint and the glitter, they know that the true magic is the family they travel with.

Until Lo meets a boy. Suddenly, she wants nothing more than to stay still. And as secrets start to tear apart the close-knit circus community, how far will Lo go to keep her feet on the ground?

Heathfield's third novel tells of two sisters who are used to sharing everything - until Lo falls for a flattie. Living in a travelling circus, the girls can't get attached or do more than flirt with the locals. But in one little town, a local lad has caught Lo's eye and makes her realise that there is more to life than the circus.

I adored this story, I thought it was beautifully simplistic in its passion for a normal life. I reminded me of Seed in the theme of exploring a different world, a different normal, but more subtle as of course the circus needs their audience. This need for a different normal was driven by Lo, the younger sister, as she starts to daydream about having a garden and a steady home, possibly with Dean. But her family means so much to her that she couldn't abandon them. 

The narrative still had Heathfield's signature beautiful writing, especially as she describes the trapeze and that sense of freedom when they preform. In fact the descriptions of the magic of the circus were incredible. But it wouldn't be a Heathfield novel without a twist and this time it was a doozy! The ending really made me cry, not just because it was sad (it was) but because it was so powerful. The whole story was, and it was amazing.

Published 29th June 2017 by Electric Monkey. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

It's A Father's Day Special!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

This was a surprisingly difficult topic; it turns out that there are even less good fathers than there is good mothers in the books I read! I did find a few great examples and this list will not be any particular order.

Because You'll Never Meet Me (Because You'll Never Meet Me #1)1 - Mr Farber and Dr Auburn-Stache in Because You'll Never Meet Me
My first choice is a twofer, as they are in the same book. First, Moritz's adopted father is incredible because he rescued a little boy with weird abilities and a broken heart from his awful mother. Second, the doctor acts not only as healer for Ollie but also friend and only link to the outside world. They are both men who did not father these boys but look after them as if they had.

2 - Dad in One Italian Summer
Even though he's recently died, the girls' father is still such a huge part of their family, especially on their first family holiday to Italy since he passed.

3 - Art in Fangirl
Single parenting twin girls through their mother leaving and then puberty can be no easy feat. But Art manages it. Although there are times when the girls seem to be doing most of the looking after, they are a tight knit family.

4 - Tom in The Last Beginning
I talked about Jen parenting Clove when Katherine and Matthew are off being stuck in time or prison or whatever, and the same stands for Tom, Matthew's brother. He really steps up for the family and Clove, and is a great dad full of good advice and programming skills.
Pride and Prejudice

5 - Mr Bennet in Pride and Prejudice
He might not say much but Mr Bennet is the strong structure at the heart of his family, staying calm in the face of his wife's hysterics and his daughters' drama.

6 - Arthur Weasley in Harry Potter
I can't not mention Mr Weasley! Not only is he a great dad to his huge family but also to Harry, and even Hermione and the rest of the Order. He does good work and is passionate about his job and about doing good with the Order.

7 - Hans Hubermann in The Book Thief
TroubleHerr Hubermann is kind and brave for taking in little Leisel but also protecting a friend's son, a Jew, from raids. He teaches Leisel how to read and write, he plays one wicked accordion and is willing to go against the Nazis, in small ways.

8 - Aaron in Trouble
This adorable lad is willing to say he is Hannah's baby daddy, to help her and save her face from admitting who the baby really belongs to.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Remembrance by Meg Cabot

All Susannah Simon wants is to make a good impression at her first job since graduating from college (and since becoming engaged to Dr. Jesse de Silva). But when she’s hired as a guidance counselor at her alma mater, she stumbles across a decade-old murder, and soon ancient history isn’t all that’s coming back to haunt her. Old ghosts as well as new ones are coming out of the woodwork, some to test her, some to vex her, and it isn’t only because she’s a mediator, gifted with second sight.

What happens when old ghosts come back to haunt you?
If you’re a mediator, you might have to kick a little ass.

From a sophomore haunted by the murderous specter of a child to ghosts of a very different kind—including Paul Slater, Suze’s ex, who shows up to make a bargain Suze is certain must have come from the Devil himself—Suze isn’t sure she’ll make it through the semester, let alone to her wedding night. Suze is used to striking first and asking questions later. But what happens when ghosts from her past—including one she found nearly impossible to resist—strike first?

I adored the Mediator series, it was so very funny and what originally drew me to paranormal books, so I was beyond excited to see how Suze had grown up. This time around, nearly ten years later, Suze has another ghost to wrangle, this time of a little girl clinging to her best friend, harming anyone who would hurt her, all the while trying to keep her job and plan her wedding to the gorgeous and very much alive Jesse de Silva.

Jesse was as cool and kind and handsome as I remember! Being bought back from the dead has clearly done wonders for him! Training to be a doctor, what he wanted to be if his father hadn't stopped him, Jesse had embraced modern life and his future with Suze. I mean, he still has old-fashioned values pertaining to certain intimacies that drives Suze bonkers, but apart from that, their life together is shaping up quite nicely. Until the devil returns.

Paul is back in Suze's life and she is not happy about it. I don't know how I feel about the fact that he hasn't changed much; when he was a teenager and all moody and self-obsessed, we could blame hormones, but as a mid-20 year old, he's just obnoxious and dangerously narcissistic. When he says that he'll help Suze with the so-called demon living inside Jesse but only if she sleeps with him, I practically shouted at the book. That's blackmail and not to mention a horrible thing to do! Paul really needs some help learning a little empathy.

I'm not going to talk about the plot too much, because in true Cabot fashion, the two sides of the story intertwine a bit. Plus I really wouldn't want to spoilt anything! I will say, however, that it definitely lives up to the rest of the series. I could tell how much time had passed, and although Suze still had her sarcastic voice and liked to punch first, talk later, she had definitely grown up. She was training to be a child psychologist, meaning she could help the living and the dead better, and for that I was beyond proud of her.

This was such a great read, both new and nostalgic, and full of Cabot's trademark wit and drama. A great ending to what will always be one of favourite series.

Published 2nd February 2016 by William Morrow Paperbacks.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

A Few Books to be Welcomed to My TBR

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's theme is books of a certain genre that we've recently added to our TBR. So I thought I'd talk about the great contemporary books that are on my TBR or my wishlist - because summer reading, for me, is all about the realistic stories.

1 - The Crash by Lisa Drakeford
Coming out in July, I do already have a copy (Thanks Chicken House!) so luckily I don't have to wait long to read it! Another multiple-perspectives story, this time with a darker twist as the five teens tell of the time a car crashed through a living room window. 

2 - Geekerella by Ashley Poston
I've heard great things about this story, despite its strange cover, so I picked up a copy this past weekend and am really excited about a modern nerdy Cinderella re-telling.

Truth or Dare3 - Truth of Dare by Non Pratt
I'm actually reading this at the moment but I couldn't not have it on this list, as it is a great example of not only contemporary YA but also UKYA.

4 - The Girl's Guide to Summer by Sarah Mlynowski
I adored Sarah's past books, they are so refreshingly funny and light hearted and perfect for a sunny day. Unfortunately we don't have a lot of those over here so I'll have to settle by reading about them in a backpacking trip through Europe.

5 - True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop by Annie Darling
The long-awaited sequel/companion novel to The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts. This time following Verity's story on the path to true love, this will be the perfect fluffy rom-com to make me smile.
When Dimple Met Rishi

6 - When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon 
This is going to be on all of my wishlists until I finally get my hands on it!

7 - Becoming Betty by Eleanor Wood
I'm hoping that Eleanor's new book will be on a similar vein to her previous book My Secret Rockstar Boyfriend, because that was hilarious. Anyway, her new one is all about starting afresh for college and discovering music and reinventing yourself - sounds great.

8 - No Filter by Orlagh Collins
Coming out in July, this sounds kinda similar to Katie McGarry's novels and I love hers so I've got high hopes! Basically, after Emerald's mother is found unconscious in the bathroom, Emerald is shipped off to Ireland to her grandmother's, where she meets and falls for Liam. Only problem is, does she share the secrets she is running from and so used to hiding?

Sunday, 4 June 2017

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!

May seemed really busy to me; work was hectic, reading once again took a back seat but at least the month ended with a week off for half term! 

On The Blog
Review of One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton
Review of The Circus by Olivia Levez
Review of Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
Review of A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

Currently Reading
Flight of a Starling by Lisa Heathfield - at time of writing, I'm not quite half way through but already it seems a different feel to her other books, in a good way.

On My Bookshelf
Truth or DareTruth or Dare by Non Pratt
How far is too far when it comes to the people you love? Claire Casey hates being the centre of attention. But if it means getting Sef Malik to notice her, it’s a risk she’s happy to take. Sef is prepared to do anything to help his recently disabled brother. But this means putting Claire’s love – and life – on the line. Because when you're willing to risk everything, what is there left to lose?

The Waking Land by Callie Bates
The Waking LandIt's been fourteen years, since King Antoine took Elanna hostage. Fourteen years since her father's rebellion failed. Fourteen years spent being raised by the man who condemned her people to misery. A man she's come to love as a father.

Now 20, Elanna is about to be taken prisoner once again... but this time by her father's mysterious righthand man.

Her father wants to reignite his rebellion, this time using Elanna as figurehead. He will tell his followers she is the legendary Wildegarde reborn, a sorceress who could make the very earth tremble.

But what no one knows is that magic really does flow through Elanna's veins. Now she must decide which side she's on, and whether she'll use her powers for mercy... or revenge.

Both of these are from Illumicrate and both I'm really looking forward to! Non's books are always great and The Waking Land sounds different and magical.

The Girl's Guide to Summer by Sarah Mlynowski
The Girl's Guide to SummerSydney Aarons is leaving her Manhattan townhouse for a summer backpacking around Europe with her best friend, Leela. They're visiting London, France, Italy, Switzerland and everywhere in between - it's going to be the trip of a lifetime.

BUT... The trip gets off to a bad start when Leela's ex-boyfriend shows up on their flight out of JFK. When they touch down in London, Leela Instagrams their every move in the hope Matt will come and find them... Which he does, along with the most gorgeous guy Sydney has ever seen.

Will Sydney's summer fling last the distance? And what will happen when they all head home?

I adore Sarah's books and even though the formatting on this version was a bitch to download, I'm really excited to be laughing at her characters and stories again. Thank you Netgalley and Orchard Books!

The Crash by Lisa Drakeford
The CrashBest friends Sophie and Tye are watching TV when a car crashes through the living room wall. The driver and passenger are twins, Harry and Gemma. Next door neighbour, eleven-year-old Issy, witnesses the accident. In the aftermath, Tye is thrown into a coma, Gemma’s dark past begins to haunt the present, and Sophie starts to fall for Harry – but how can she, when he was the driver who nearly killed her best friend? And Issy, meanwhile, hides a terrible secret... 

I really liked her first book The Baby so I'm looking forward to her mix of characters with something a bit darker. Thank you Chicken House!

City of Saints & ThievesCity of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C Anderson
Street-thief Tina breaks in to the luxurious house where her mother was killed to steal from Mr. Greyhill and nail him for her mother’s murder. She is caught red-handed.

Saved by Mr. Greyhill’s gorgeous son, Michael, the pair set in motion a cascade of dangerous events that lead them deeper into the mystery, and reveal dark and shocking secrets from Tina’s past.

Tina and her mother fled the Congo years ago as refugees, trading the uncertain danger of their besieged village for a new, safer life in the bustling Kenyan metropolis. The corruption and politics of the Congo, and the gangster world of Sangui City, are behind Tina’s mother’s downfall. Is Tina tough enough to find the truth and bring the killer to justice?

A little something different, I wanted to read about a different place in the world and the Congo is pretty new to me. Thank you Oneworld!

June TBR
Definitely starting with Truth or Dare! Also this month I need to read my review books, starting with A Girl's Guide to Summer and City of Saints and Thieves. Let me know what you're planning on reading this month!

Friday, 2 June 2017

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas

A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #3)

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

Before we start, this is going to be short, because if you want to read this then you would have by now, and it will also be full of spoilers, as it is the third book in a series.

Ok, let's go! With all the drama around SJM's characters, worlds, whitewashing and flighty females, I can see how she tried to address and correct these issues in this book. Feyre and Rhys were still going strong and was, in my opinion, a great example of a healthy relationship. After what Tamlin did to her, Rhys clearly states that he views and wants to treat Feyre as an equal. Yes, he wants to protect and shield her, but if she wants to do something then he's not going to stop her just because he thinks it's too dangerous. 

We see much more of the world in this instalment, with a congregation of the Courts to deal with the Hybern issue. Here, we see different skin colours, different powers and varying sexuality's at play. Not only did I really appreciate the diversity but also the banter was legendary! Anyway, back to the world-building, we also saw elements of different mythologies as folk tales and legends for the magical explanations. 

There was a lot to love in this book, as I was quite worried going in! The tension was building throughout most of the story, as Hybern's forces were gathering, allies weren't forming and the Wall between the Fae and human world was weakening. All this accumulated into the epic battle finale, where I definitely cried on two occasions! I think as a conclusion for Rhys and Feyre's story, I really liked it. A lot of loose threads were tied up but enough left open for other character's stories to be explored. 

Published 2nd May 2017 by Bloomsbury.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Top Ten Most Anticipated Read of July-Dec '17

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Here is my list of books I am dying to get my hands on, in the second half of this year. Apparently, and luckily I guess, most of them come out in the summer, so I won't have that long to wait! Let me know if you share any of these on your wishlists, or if there's something else you're dying to read asap!

Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga, #2)Now I Rise by Kiersten White - 6th July
The sequel to the absolutely amazing And I Darken where Vlad Dracul is re-imagined as a girl. We're finally getting into the gritty teenage years with Lada and I really want to see the details of her growing up into the notorious and deadly leader we know as Dracula. 

Songs About Us by Christ Russell - 13th July
The complete opposite of the above, this is the sequel to Songs About A Girl, with more boy band drama and first love heartache. 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon - 13th July
The debut that everyone has been raving about! I'm really excited about this one, I've heard amazing things and I'm looking forward to a different perspective on first love when talking about traditional arranged marriage.

Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo - 29th August
Ahhh! Do I really need to say more? First the film and now this book - I am over-joyed by this female-led superhero overall.

Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison - August
The Loneliest Girl in the UniverseI really liked Lobsters and Never Evers but now Tom and Lucy's new collab is set in university and I don't think I've ever been more excited for a new adult-style rom-com!

The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James - 7th September
After The Next Together duology, I have high hopes for Lauren's next project, which is set in space! Colour me sold!

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff - 7th September
Sequel to Nevernight, which I adored even though it was pretty heavy and confusing. The world of dangerous assassins and dark magic was brilliant though, and I can't wait to find out what Mia does next on her quest for vengeance.

The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co., #5)The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud - 28th September
The finale to the insanely-good series, where all questions on the skull, on the ghost problem and hopefully Lockwood and Lucy will be answered!

The Fandom by Anna Day - 5th October 
When die-hard fans are mysteriously transported into the world they love, can their knowledge help them survive? Hardcore fans, comic cons and sci-fi worlds, I am so there!

Renegades by Marissa Meyer - 7th November
And finally, we have Marissa Meyer's next book, all about futuristic robots, justice and cool super powers. It sounds a little more like her Lunar Chronicles, which is clearly where she shines, but I'm not sure if it's getting published over here, so the date might be off. 

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Blog Tour: Summer at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn

Summer at Conwenna CoveEve has a glittering career, a loving husband and a future. But a terrible twist of fate means she loses it all, and with nowhere left to turn she flees to her Aunt Mary’s home in Cornwall. The last thing on her mind is romance – until she meets Jack.

Jack has seen the worst things people can do to each other and realised he is better off alone. He settles in Conwenna Cove, and saves his affections for the rescue dogs he cares for. But when Eve arrives in the village he can’t deny his attraction to her.

Eve and Jack are both scared to trust, but when they come together it’s impossible for either to ignore their feelings. Can they put their fears aside and learn to love again?

After Eve suffers a terribly and embarrassing anxiety attack at work, she takes herself away to her aunt’s for some well-deserved TLC. There, she is able to confront her demons and troubles, as well as get giddy for her aunt’s neighbour Jack. 

There was a slow build up with the romance, which was sweet and appropriate, as both of them were dealing with past baggage, but not always believable. I really wanted to root for them and for the most part I did, but there were a few little niggling moments when they were characteristically mushy or harsh. Still a very good portrayal of forgiving and looking after yourself before taking on another relationship.

There was also a pretty good representation of anxiety and grief – maybe kind of brushed over when convenient but still treated as a long term problem, not something that could just be fixed by a holiday and falling in love. 

This was not my usual book but quite liked it. There was a lot of telling rather than showing – even as Eve and Jack keep their secrets to themselves for a while, we get it narrated in their inner monologue anyway – which did quite annoy me but I got used to it. So, I had my issues but they were minor and weren’t enough to detract from a good love story about moving on and forgiveness.

Published 17th May 2017 by Canelo. Thank you to the publisher and Faye Rogers PR for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

Because You'll Never Meet MeOllie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

Told in letters between two boys, we slowly get to know Ollie and Moritz as they correspond to remove the boredom and alienation that both of their conditions inspire. For Ollie, he doesn’t have much choice in being alone as he is deathly allergic to electricity and has to live in a cabin the back woods of the Midwest. Meanwhile Moritz lives in Germany and along with having a pacemaker beat his heart for him, he was also born without eyes. I have to say, this is where my heart broke for him, for both of them. Well, the first time my heart broke. 

This was such an incredibly unique story. I immediately fell for Ollie, his upbeat voice and naïve enthusiasm for the world he has never seen was contagious. But I think Moritz slowly stole my heart. They were both so different but across their words, they grew such a strong friendship and slowly began to trust each other with secrets they couldn’t bear to say out loud. 

As I said, it was told in letter format, which was an interesting style to read in, not one that is done that often. Also you only get to know what the characters are willing to reveal about themselves but you can infer a lot from context, like the shame Moritz has been carrying around, and how much of Ollie’s humour is a front.

This was such a surprise for me. It was clever and fascinating and even touched on a little sci-fi as Ollie and Moritz realise they are connected in ways they didn’t know. It was completely heart breaking but so damn good.

Published 2nd July 2015 by Bloomsbury.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Top Ten Reads That Remind Me of Summer

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish

1 - The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Such a brilliant summer rom-com - when Andie's internship falls through, she finds herself without plans or purpose for the whole summer break. But bumping into Clark and finding herself walking dogs lets her slow down for the first time in years and really enjoy her life.

London Belongs to Us2 - London Belongs To Us by Sarra Manning
Set over 24 hours and all across London, Sunny takes us on a wild ride to find her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend. Funny, diverse, clever and such a fast-paced read, definitely a great love letter to the city. 

3 - Love Song by Sophia Bennett
Maybe not set in the summer, but a great UKYA story about boy bands and standing up for yourself. Plus, who doesn't love to read about hot boys while sitting your garden?

4 - How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne
You might know Amber from Holly's first Spinster trilogy book Am I Normal Yet? but this is her story of going to America to meet her mum for the first time in years and spend a summer with her new family and working at their summer camp. Great British versus American banter, Harry Potter references and finding the balance between calling yourself feminist while falling in love.

5 - Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
I had to include a road trip story! After Amy's dad died in a car accident, she isn't ready to get behind the wheel to drive her car across the country to their new home. Enter Roger, family friend, willing to play chauffeur. It is the typical love story set in a car, but it's really sweet and definitely reminds me of long journeys to summer holidays. 

6 - How To Be Bad by E Lockhart, Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski
How to Be BadOh look, another road trip story! But this one is all about girl power, as Vicky, Mel and Jesse each have their own reasons to want to leave their small town for a while but after nearly getting eaten by a crocodile, end up with an unbreakable friendship. 

7 - 99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Molly just has to last the 99 days of summer until she can escape her home town and never see these people again, these people who judge her for breaking the golden boy's heart. So you get all the hot weather, the crisp air by the pool, the friends round for barbecue's, but you also get the fear, the bullying, the finally accepting blame and moving on. 

8 - Remix by Non Pratt
A music festival, sleeping-bag hopping, parties and booze, best friends and boyfriends, practically everything is covered in this great UKYA story.

9 - You Know Me So Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour
When We CollidedFriendship can be found in very unlikely places, but meeting in a gay bar while dancing on the bar is definitely a strange one. When Mark and Kate meet, they encourage each other to get out of their comfort zones and be true to who they are. Short and sweet, ending with San Francisco's Pride Parade, definitely a great summer romp.

10 - When We Collided by Emery Lord
Quite heavy for a summer read but covers important topics really well, from grief to manic depression. Vivi and Jonah have a truly heart-breaking love story and one that will stay with you. 

Let me know what your favourite summer reads are, or if there are any books you are planning to read in the sun.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Barefoot On The Wind by Zoe Marriott

Barefoot on the Wind (The Moonlit Lands, #2)There is a monster in the forest... 

Everyone in Hana's remote village on the mountain knows that straying too far into the woods is a death sentence. When Hana's father goes missing, she is the only one who dares try to save him. Taking up her hunting gear, she goes in search of the beast, determined to kill it - or be killed herself. 

But the forest contains more secrets, more magic and more darkness than Hana could ever have imagined. And the beast is not at all what she expects...

Hana lives with her family in a small village in the middle of a dangerous forest. Her family has lost more than most to the monster that hides in the dark but one night, her father returns from an attack, the first ever to do so. But he is injured and Hana is the only one brave enough to take on the monster in the forest. 

Hana is hurt on her hunt and taken in by a stranger but it seems that he knows more about this dark forest than he lets on. As Hana heals and they grow closer, the magic in the woods turns deadly. Marriott has said that this is a feminist retelling of Beauty and the Beast, written as if Beauty had the choice to stay in the forest rather than as part of a deal to save her father. I think it made a huge difference in the portrayal of bravery and their love story, as the Beast doesn't hold anything over Beauty's freedom. 

The whole story was such an interesting re-imagining of the classic tale, and with Marriott's lovely descriptions and skill for magical worlds, it practically burst off the page. Although short and sweet, I really enjoyed this Japanese-style fairy tale and was reminded of why Beauty and the Beast is my favourite story. 

Published 1st September 2016 by Walker Books.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Great Book Mums

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Side note: while creating this list, I realised two things: one, there really isn't that many mums in YA books - even if they exist, they're not really there. Two: when they are there, they aren't always named. Or if they are, I can't remember them!

1 - The Upside of Unrequited
Actually both mum's to twins Molly and Cassie, and little brother Xander. They are crazy in love, demonstrate a great and healthy relationship as well as diversity and open-mindedness as they quietly fight for LGBT rights.

Wing Jones2 - Wing Jones
Along with both sets of grandmothers, Wing's mum works and looks after the house and family, holding things together after Marcus's accident. 

3 - The Next Together/The Last Beginning
I put these books on the list for Katherine but actually I want to mention Jen too because she and Tom actually raised Clove which Katherine and Matthew were stuck in time, or on the run or whatever it was they are doing.

4 - Did I Mention I Love You?
Again, I mentioning the mum and the step-mum to Eden, because as her dad is less than supportive (about everything, apparently) they both really step up and give Eden a shoulder to cry on and someone to lean on.

5- Vendetta
Vendetta (Blood for Blood, #1)Determined to protect Sophie from her father's family past, her mum is strong and brave in the face of danger. I mean, it's the mafia!

6 - Harry Potter and the... actually, all of them!
Mrs Weasley is bad ass and totally deserves a spot on this list, because not only she an amazing mother to her seven children but also to Harry and Hermione when they need it!

Wow, that was actually really hard to come up with! Apparently YA books are like fairytales in which most of the mothers have vanished. Or maybe teenagers are all about ditching the parents, that's probably more likely. 

Friday, 12 May 2017

The Circus by Olivia Levez

The CircusWhy would a girl who has everything want to run away and never be found?

Willow has staged runaways ever since she was a little girl. She has everything a young person should want: a rich daddy, clothes, money, a pony and a place at a prestigious boarding school. In reality, she has everything except the thing she really wants: a father who cares enough to find her.

Aged sixteen, on the eve of her father’s wedding, she ruins the bride’s dress and escapes through a window, determined never to return. Her missing mother was a circus performer, and Willow wants to follow in her footsteps. But the performers she meets don’t want her. When her last bit of money is stolen by Suze, another runaway girl she thought she could trust, Willow becomes really homeless. Then Suze comes tumbling back into her life and a desperate Willow has to decide whether to trust her all over again . . .

So begins their frightening, exhilarating odyssey though hunger, performance, desperation and dreams. Will they both survive and will Willow make it to the circus of her imagining?

Willow is a tried-and-tested runaway but this time she isn't coming back. On the morning of her father's wedding, she cuts the buttons off her future step-mother's dress and runs away, hops on a train to Hastings. Willow desperately wants to find her mother, the woman in the sole photograph she owns of her, standing in front of a circus tent. From what her father is told her, Willow's mother was a beautiful acrobat and had to leave when Willow was a baby to re-join her troop.

In quite a similar vein to her debut The Island, Levez tells of a troubled young woman who just wants to find her family. Having been ignored by her father and not impressed with his parade of women, Willow wants to be reunited with her mother and the only lead she's got is a circus in Hastings so that's where she'll go. But living on the run isn't easy, even with her gap year savings. But she is taken under Suze's wing and together they train to get into the circus.

As it is told from Willow's perspective, it takes a while to realise that she actually has it pretty good. She is spoilt rotten, if sometimes ignored, by her dad, and as she struggles with living alone and her reasons behind running away in the first place, it becomes clear that she is selfish, attention-seeking and naïve. But on the other hand, all she wanted was to find a real family - what's so bad about that?

It was sometimes quite difficult to read - Willow sure was an idiot sometimes, so much so that I wanted to slap her, but also the real-life troubles she encounters, from homelessness to assault, made me queasy. As for the friendship with Suze, that did seem rather one-sided but in her own way (maybe when she remembered) Willow did care about Suze and didn't want to leave her behind like she had been before.

All in all, a sometimes-difficult but quite spectacular story about family and love; it might have taken a while but I think Willow learned something about empathy and how destructive her previous selfishness was.

Published 13th June 2017 by Oneworld Publications. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Top Ten Things I Want More Of In Books, Dammit!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

1 - Pirates - what's not to love about pirates? It can be any sort of pirate, good or bad, or with any kind of twist, like time travelling pirates in Passenger.

2 - Realistic first times - the thing with reading YA is that most teenagers are probably having sex but rarely is it discusses properly. I'm talking awkward fumbling, getting the giggles, and being confident enough to open yourself up to another person. One of the only books that handles this well is A Quiet Kind of Thunder and I want more of that!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)3 - Space opera - stuff set in space that doesn't necessarily mean there's a space war - anything similar to The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet.

4 - Fairy tales - I know there are plenty of re-tellings but I cannot find any original fairy tales. I'm thinking The Sin Eater's Daughter, because the way Salisbury blended magic and folklore was amazing.

5 - Nerds - there are nearly always nerds in books but more often than not, they are in the background or the sad kid getting bullied. I want more awesome nerds, like Cath in Fangirl or Lexi in Unconventional.

6 - Hate-to-love trope - I recently did a Top Ten of my favourite love stories with this trope but I'm always on the look out for more!
Am I Normal Yet? (The Spinster Club, #1)
7 - Mental health - this subject is finally getting the attention is deserves but I'm always looking for something different or a different angle on a familiar illness.

8 - Anti heroes - with their own story! It could be like Baz in Carry On or getting the villain's backstory like Levana in Fairest, but they are always fascinating characters.

9 - Dragons - either I missed the boat on this or there really are not many books on dragons! The one that I desperately want to get my hands on is A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan.

10 - Mythology - linked to fairy tales, I would like to read stories based on the unusual myths; everyone knows Hercules and Thor but what about the other heroes and gods, from all sorts of cultures? Books on those please!

Friday, 5 May 2017

One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton

One Italian SummerIt's been a year since Milly, Elyse and Leonie's dad died, and a year since their last trip to Rome. Summer's here again, and once again they are heading with their mum to Italy - but what's it going to be like going without Dad? Rome still holds its familiar charms - the sun is still as warm, the gelato as delicious, the people as welcoming. But nothing is quite as it once was ... 

With grief still raw for all of them, Milly is facing the additional awfulness of having to see Luke again - gorgeous, gorgeous Luke, who she had a fling with last year, and who she made a total fool of herself with - or so she thinks. What's going to happen this time? What's more, things between Milly, her sisters and their mum are rocky - Leonie is being tempestuous and unpredictable, Elyse is caught up with her new boyfriend, and Milly feels like she just doesn't know how she fits in any more. 

Over one Italian summer, can Milly find a way back to the life she once had?

I adore Keris' writing style, it is always so easy to read and fall in love with. Her latest instalment follows Milly, the middle sister of three, as her family still struggle with the sudden death of her dad and the prospect of going to Italy for the first time without him.

Right from the off, it is evident that everyone has changed after their dad died, Milly in particular has retreated into herself. Their mum doesn't like to talk to them about it, Elyse the eldest is determined to pick up the pieces, and Leonie the youngest is getting more confident without Milly really noticing. It is strange how grief, especially long term, affects everyone differently but I think Keris did a wonderful job of sorting through everything and everyone's wavering emotions, especially in such a big family. 

So, they went to Italy for their aunt's wedding and they met up with their favourite cousin and his best friend aka Milly's crush. I thought this delicate balance between remembering their dad and having a nice holiday worked; I got the message about learning to get on with life, celebrate the good things, and how it's ok to start new things and move on without feeling guilty. Even a year after he died, their dad was clearly still around them and going to Italy, their regular holiday, meant that they could all remember him in a place that they loved and simultaneously get out of their holding pattern at home.

There was lots of really important and touching things about sisterhood, support and grief but also fun contemporary romance stuff about holidaying in Italy and growing up. Milly had lots of learn about finally confronting her fears and getting into a good place with Luke. All in all, a very sweet and moving story, equal parts funny and sad, cute and heavy. 

Published 4th May 2017 by Hot Key Books. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.