Tuesday 30 July 2013

Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols

Bailey wasn't always a wild child and the black sheep of her family. She used to play fiddle and tour the music circuit with her sister, Julie, who sang and played guitar. That ended when country music execs swooped in and signed Julie to a solo deal. Never mind that Julie and Bailey were a duet, or that Bailey was their songwriter. The music scouts wanted only Julie, and their parents were content to sit by and let her fulfill her dreams while Bailey’s were hushed away.

Bailey has tried to numb the pain and disappointment over what could have been. And as Julie’s debut album is set to hit the charts, her parents get fed up with Bailey’s antics and ship her off to granddad’s house in Nashville. Playing fiddle in washed-up tribute groups at the mall, Bailey meets Sam, a handsome and oh-so-persuasive guitarist with his own band. He knows Bailey’s fiddle playing is just the thing his band needs to break into the industry. But this life has broken Bailey’s heart once before. She isn't sure she’s ready to let Sam take her there again…

It had only been a week after Bailey's family had dumped her on her granddad and it took me a while to understand the time lapse, as her sister had been away for a year but only not speaking to her for a week. Little confusing but I got the gist. So we're inside Bailey's head as she tries to come to terms with her absent family and not being allowed to play music publicly for fear of ruining it for her sister. Sam plays the bad-boy role here as he entices Bailey to play fiddle in his band and they are really good. Like, we could get a record contract good! But between Bailey's family rules and Sam's commitment issues, they are destined to be either at each other's throats or attached at the lips. Guess which won wins most of the time?

This came highly recommended, as Jennifer Echols is a great New/Young Adult writer and her books are apparently amazing. Having now read my first one, I can now confirm that to be true! The first thing I have to mention is the setting. I really liked Nashville, the country music scene leapt off the page and even though I am not musically inclined, so some information went over my head, it helped to understand Bailey and Sam's characters and motivation for their love of music. 

Speaking of Bailey and Sam, I loved them both. Bailey was spiky and on-edge but melted into her music, whereas Sam was instantly love-able but had hidden issues. Even though Bailey was over-dramatic, I really felt for her. Her family had essentially dumped her for her sister and that wasn't fair. The whole situation wasn't handled well, be anyone, but as it was from Bailey's perspective, I was more likely to sympathise with her. And while I instantly liked Sam, the more I learned about him, the more wary I was. I really wanted to just fall for him, but he was so complicated and gorgeous that I was worried about what he was going to do next. Or at least, what he was going to say that sounded stupid and ridiculous. 

Echols effortlessly intertwines seductive first loves and making it big in the music industry. Add in a hot guy that play guitar and a happy ending, and I'm sold!

Published 16th July 2013 by Gallery Books. Thanks to netgalley for my e-copy.

Sunday 28 July 2013

Weekly Highlights: the extended edition

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

I kinda forgot last week because I didn't get any new books. So I'll post links to my favourite posts from the last fortnight and tell you about my book post from the last few days. 

On The Blog
Review of Never Bite A Boy On the First Date by Tamara Summers (4 stars)
Review of The Hit by Melvin Burgess (3 stars)
Discussion: Reading Habits - where I talked about the weird habits I've picked up in regards to reading and relating things, like bookmarks and where I like to pick up a book.

Currently Reading
Dead Romantic by CJ Skuse - like anything CJ does, I love it to pieces. Which is actually an appropriate comment considering the book!

On My Bookshelf

Hacker by Malorie Blackman 
When Vicky's father is arrested on a charge of stealing over a million pounds from the bank where he works, she is determined to prove his innocence. Helped by her brother and his best friend, Vicky decides to try to find the real thief by hacking into the bank's computer system.

£2 in Oxfam Books, plus computer hackers! My boyfriend would love this!

The Diamond Thief by Sharon Gosling
No one performs on the circus trapeze like sixteen-year-old Remy Brunel. But Remy also leads another life, as a cat burglar and jewel thief. Forced by the evil circus owner Gustave to attempt the theft of one of the world's most valuable diamonds, Remy thinks it will be just another heist, but when she meets determined young detective Thaddeus Rec, her life changes forever. 

Will Thaddeus manage to rescue the jewel? Or is it really Remy that he needs to save?

Yay, thank you Curious Fox! This sounds awesome and I cannot wait to start it! In my Team Fox parcel, I got also sample chapters of Amber by Julie Sykes, Red Rock by Kate Kelly, The Magnificent Lizzie Brown by Vicki Lockwood and The Ruby Airship by Sharon Golsing.

Thursday 25 July 2013

The Hit by Melvin Burgess

A new drug is out. Everyone is talking about it. The Hit. Take it, and you have one amazing week to live. It's the ultimate high. At the ultimate price.
Adam is tempted. Life is rubbish, his girlfriend's over him, his brother's gone. So what's he got to lose? Everything, as it turns out. It's up to his girlfriend, Lizzie, to show him...

I went into this book with no expectations but was wary that it sounded pretty creepy. It wasn't as creepy as I thought it was going to be, no death following us around and depressive thoughts, but it definitely raised questions of mortality and society's influences on... well, everything. 

So, the story was essentially following Adam as he took the pill 'Death' and wanted his last week to be fantastic but nothing really goes right. There was a lot more to it than that, like Lizzie's family and the drug underworld and crime bosses and revolution. Anyway, as the protagonist, Adam did annoy me a little periodically but I did like his and Lizzie's relationship. It wasn't perfect but they both wanted to work on it and that was the base of their story: neither giving up on the other, even when the other is being a prat. 

It was great that it was UK-based, because Manchester does give off this vibe of being a social hub and a great place for criminal underworld and conspiracies. Plus this made it even more scarily realistic, because the drug came about as a way of giving dying people to go out with a bang. 

Wow, this review is quite short, isn't it? Sorry about that, but I don't want to give too much anyway. Especially as the story went in a totally different direction than I thought it would. But I will say that The Hit was a great commentary on social anxieties and peer pressure, in all its forms. Give this one a go, if not for the great story then for the excellent example of UK YA.  

Published 4th April 2013 by Chicken House. Thank you to the publisher for my copy.

Monday 22 July 2013

Mini reviews: A Dark Kiss of Rapture and Crossing The Line

A Dark Kiss of Rapture by Sylvia Day
Of all the Fallen, Raze's hungers are some of the darkest and most insatiable. His brazen seductions cost him his wings, leaving him soulless and immortal, the most dangerous of seducers. He has roamed the earth for eons, hunting the rogues of his kind and protecting the humans who provide him with blood and sex. He is content with his life and the transient pleasures that flow through it... until one night and one woman change everything.

Kimberly McAdams is smart, beautiful, and wealthy. She can have any man she wants, but the moment she sets eyes on the lethally stunning Raze she knows he's the man she needs. As one searingly erotic night burns into something deeper and far more vital than either of them expected, an adversary from Raze's past sees a chance for revenge. Twisted by hatred, she will take from Raze what was taken from her—the precious gift of love.

I picked this ebook up because I love paranormal - didn't realise it was so short and a prequel to a series, but it's still good! And because it's so short (72 pages) world-building was brief and minimal. This left me a little confused but it was easy to pick up the flow of the characters and their life stories. 

Basically, Raze and his gang are a bunch of fallen angels punished by becoming vampires. He is a bit of a player and after a tough day at work hunting down a jackass vampire person - ok, so I didn't completely understand it, but whatever - he goes to a bar looking for a playmate for the night. In walks Kim and Raze is instantly attracted, not just because she's beautiful but also because she has wicked banter and can hold her own in the world.

This was a short story setting up their romance and their world, which I found believable and likeable. 

Crossing the Line by Katie McGarry
Lila McCormick first met Lincoln Turner when tragedy struck both their lives. But she never expected their surprise encounter would lead to two years of exchanging letters-or that she'd fall for the boy she's only seen once. Their relationship is a secret, but Lila feels closer to Lincoln than anyone else. Until she finds out that he lied to her about the one thing she depended on him for the most.

Hurting Lila is the last thing Lincoln wanted. For two years, her letters have been the only thing getting him through the day. Admitting his feelings would cross a line he's never dared breach before. But Lincoln will do whatever it takes to fix his mistakes, earn Lila's forgiveness-and finally win a chance to be with the girl he loves.

A mini-story in the world of Echo and Noah? I'm there! 

So, this is about Lila and new boy Lincoln. First off, I really liked the premise that they only communicated through letters and fell in love that way. It's a dying form of communication and I love the personality and depth that the snippets we got to read conveyed about both of them. I also loved their face-to-face relationship, as adorable and charged as it was. They had really bonded through the letters and each desperately wanted to please the other, which was really sweet. Sorry, hopeless romantic over here!

I really sympathised with Lila - her fear of moving away from home is one I have and I could completely understand how betrayed she felt when Lincoln let her down. But I was moved and actually kind of proud that he didn't let her stay mad at him and came all the way over to her to apologise and rescue her. 

Finally, I liked the ending. It was short and sweet, with a little hope in there at the end for a budding love, as I think they both deserve it after all the crap they've been through. 

Friday 19 July 2013

Discussion: Reading habits

I can't remember where I originally saw something like this, quite possibly Faye and Clover and likely others, so apologies if I'm copying anything specific. But this is a popular topic among avid readers and bloggers, and I'd like to throw in my thoughts!

So here goes, my reading habits and sort of anything I do that relates to reading:

  • The covers of hardbacks: I believe that most people take them off to read the book, so the cover doesn't get damaged. I usually do but I find it depends on the length of the book. For example, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is nearly 600 pages or something, meaning there is a big gap between hardback and paper cover when you open it, so I take it off. But Velveteen by Daniel Marks is nearly 400 pages and I kept that cover on fine. 
  • Bookmarks: I inadvertently collect them. Sometimes on purpose, like I have a crap-load (technical term) of Harry Potter and Doctor Who bookmarks, but I also quite often get them as presents, like my St Michael's Mount bookmark.
  • Where you stop reading: I've noticed that other bloggers that have done this say they have to stop in a certain place on the page. I am very similar. If I can't reach the end of a chapter, I have to at least finish the top paragraph on the left page. Obviously I can't do this on my kindle, so I either finish the chapter or the first paragraph. 
  • I have developed the unfortunate habit of reading many, many ebooks at the same time. Sometimes I have started one and then start another, just to go back. Or I start one then get distracted by a new one, like I did with Alice in Wonderland. 
  • Linked to this is the similarly unfortunate habit of collecting e-books. I think, at least in my case, it's because they do not take up any room so it's like I don't have very many. 
  • So this might be a bit personal, but I like to read in the bath. And while I eat breakfast. And during lunch and dinner, if I can! I can remember a conversation while I was in primary school when my friends were shocked to find that I read while eating, and I didn't understand why it was a big deal. I can't be the only one who does that, right? I can pretty much read anywhere, indoors or out, on a train, in the sun, curled up on my bed, even with the TV on if the book's gripping enough, but not on the bus or car. That gives me a headache. Probably because of the movement, like a travel sickness thing. 
  • Blogging notebook: I've noticed that many of my blogger friends do make notes while reading and I have never really done that. Do I just have a really good memory, or am I not getting it? I do tend to make my notes in blogger as a draft; does this count?
Anyone else read in the bath? Or shower, although I do no understand how? How about collect bookmarks or do you just use scraps of paper or train tickets? Are your book habits different from kindle habits? Let me know your reading habits in the comments!

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Never Bite a Boy on the First Date by Tamara Summers

I've got a few issues: I'm a vampire now. One of my classmates was found dead, with telltale fang marks. I didn't do it! (really!) Nobody believes me, so . . . I'm going to have to find the real killer. I've already got three suspects. (three very cute suspects.) One more problem: I am seriously falling for one of them . . . but what if he's the killer?

The synopsis might give you a bit of a clue that this is not a proper scary vampire story. Not that that's a bad thing, it was very funny and fresh, a less serious take on the vampire legend. 

So the protagonist was Kira, vampire for only two years and already made enough mistakes that when a jock is found with holes in his neck, her family blames her. So she goes about proving her innocence by catching the real killer. Kira made me giggle, she had this hilarious and sort of typical-but-not approach to being a vampire, like she loved having the power but didn't flaunt it. It made her feel real because she was so sarcastic and defensive. 

Not only does her weird approach to vampiredom make her funny but also her family. Her adopted family are a collection of oddballs with the older parents being very old-fashioned and her siblings just... weird. Plus there's the whole 'my adopted/pretend brother is actually my ex-boyfriend and he still fancies me and it's my fault he's a vampire' thing. Kira's life is beyond weird, add in the vampire stuff and her dating three possible murderers and you have a recipe for disaster! Luckily, Kira can look after herself and does so well, thus making up for my guilt on her behalf thing for dating three guys. 

There were some pretty serious and very impressive plot-twists and secrets to guess - and unfortunately I did not guess the right killer before he or she was revealed. I know, I was disappointed in myself but it was a good twist. As for the three guys, Kira picked her lover-boy and I was happy for them both. 

Publishing 1st February 2010 by Harper Collins. This was a library book. 

Sunday 14 July 2013

Weekly Highlights: the gift 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! 

On the blog

Review of Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (5 stars)
My summer reading list and the Summer Reading Challenge for kids
Ink blog tour

Currently reading

The Hit by Melvin Burgess - not as terrifying as I thought it would be so far, but pretty scary how realistic it is!
Dirty Little Secret by Jennifer Echols - just got this on netgalley and started it straight away! My first Jennifer Echols book and it is great so far! 

On My Bookshelf

The Soterion Mission by Stewart Ross

In a post-apocalyptic world where no-one lives beyond their teenage years, the mysterious Roxanne arrives in Cyrus’s village, fleeing the barbaric Zeds. She claims to be on a mission that can save them all, but can she be trusted? Cyrus joins her in her quest for the legendary Soterion, but the Zeds are determined to get there first. 

My first book from Curious Fox, the new kid on the block in the publishing world. They have some great titles coming up so keep an eye out! Thanks Curious Fox!

Out of the Easy by Ruts Sepetys

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

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

A gift from my school librarian because I've been helping out there this last week for work experience. I loved it and I'm going back in a couple of days next week too!

Parallel by Lauren Miller

Two worlds. Two separate identities. Two guys. 

A collision of parallel universes leaves 18-year-old Abby Barnes living a new reality - every time her parallel makes a new decision. Never-without-a-plan Abby is forced to cope with the consequences of waking up in a life she has no memory of creating. 

With chapters that alternate between our world (Here) and the parallel one (There), Abby's Here comes complete with a Yale address, a new roomie, and birthday blind date with a super-hot lacrosse player. In the parallel world, Abby's still navigating senior year class schedules, college applications, and her relationship with Astronomy Boy at her high school. 

This story explores the nature of identity, the role of cause and effect in young lives and the defining power of choice.

A hand-me-down from Lucy (The Queen of Contemporary) because she had two copies and it turns out we live practically round the corner from each other! Small world, huh? Thanks Lucy, this sounds awesome and I've been looking forward to it for ages!

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair. . . . 

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell. 

Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known. Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything—her family, her future—to be with him. When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter. 

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Requested from Hachette, it's being re-published in the UK by Orchard Books, I believe. Anyway, it sounds awesome, I love Tiger Lily! Thanks Hachette!

Vivian versus the Apocalypse by Katie Coyle

A chilling vision of a contemporary USA where the sinister Church of America is destroying lives. Our cynical protagonist, seventeen-­year-­old Vivian Apple, is awaiting the fated 'Rapture' -­ or rather the lack of it. Her evangelical parents have been in the Church's thrall for too long, and she's looking forward to getting them back. Except that when Vivian arrives home the day after the supposed 'Rapture', her parents are gone. All that is left are two holes in the ceiling...

Viv is determined to carry on as normal, but when she starts to suspect that her parents might still be alive, she realises she must uncover the truth. Joined by Peter, a boy claiming to know the real whereabouts of the Church, and Edie, a heavily pregnant Believer who has been 'left behind', they embark on a road trip across America. Encountering freak weather, roving 'Believer' gangs and a strange teenage group calling themselves the 'New Orphans', Viv soon begins to realise that the Rapture was just the beginning.

One of the winners of the Hot Key Books Young Writers last year, it sounds just incredible and an amazing idea for a book. Thanks Hot Key!

Saturday 13 July 2013

Ink blog tour: Amanda Sun's guest post

Today I am delighted to invite Amanda Sun to talk to you all about her visit to Japan and her inspirations for her first novel in the Paper Gods series, Ink. 
When I was in high school, I lived in Osaka on exchange. It was the Monday after I’d arrived, and my host sister, her friend and I were making the trek to her university—train, then bus, then walking uphill on steep streets. To pass the time, my host sister’s friend asked me, “What are you most looking forward to seeing in Japan?”

Keep in mind that, like Katie in INK, my Japanese was limited. I’d studied like crazy before arriving, but the forms of Japanese I’d learned had been so polite they were barely applicable to the casual speech of my friends and family. My strategy was to answer using words I knew, instead of struggling and flipping through my dictionary for every word.

 What was I most looking forward to? I thought about the temples and shrines, the castle and the zen rock gardens. I didn’t know any of those words, so I tried to simplify. The old buildings? Yes, that was something I knew how to say.

 So I opened my mouth and said, “furui biru.” Old buildings. EXCEPT. Because of my bad pronunciation with vowel lengths, and the strangeness of the words I’d strung together, it came out as sounding like “furii biiru.” Free beer.


 You should’ve seen the look on my friends’ faces. But we all had a good laugh after, and I never made a mistake with long vowels again. At least, not one anyone’s burst out laughing about.

 Writing INK was a challenge because I knew so well the language limitations that faced Katie. At the same time, how could I write a novel where no one could speak to each other? Katie needed to be able to have complicated conversations with Tomohiro and other characters. She needed to attend a Japanese school and take notes. So how could she accomplish all this with the language barrier?

 First, I had Katie take a Japanese class in SHADOW before she arrived in Japan. Secondly, I added Japanese phrases to simulate how it felt for Katie, as well as to help capture the sound of what she was hearing. As the reader picks them up, so does Katie. Thirdly, I had some of the characters, like Yuki, speak quite good English and help Katie along.

 And a couple times, Diane says to her, “Give it four or five months.” I met many exchange students in Japan, and they all agreed that after a few months, it was easy to speak to friends and family. INK takes place from March until July, so Katie gets more fluent as time goes on.

 And here’s a behind-the-scenes secret. Katie has an unnatural aptitude for learning Japanese. But why? You’ll have to read to find out.

 I hope you enjoy INK, and learn some Japanese as you follow Katie through her experiences in Japan. O-tanoshimi ni! Hope you look forward to it. ^_^

Thank you to Amanda and MiraInk for agreeing to stop off on my blog. Read my review here and below is some more information on author and book:

Amanda Sun was born in Deep River, a small town where she could escape into the surrounding forest to read. Ink is her first novel and The Paper Gods series is inspired by her time living in Osaka and travelling throughout Japan.
Visit her at www.AmandaSunBooks.com and on Twitter at @Amanda_Sun.

Available from amazon http://amzn.to/12FzSMN

Friday 12 July 2013

Summer Reading (Challenge)

Some of you may be aware that tomorrow marks the beginning of this year's Summer Reading Challenge. If you're not, here's a brief explanation: the SRC is for kids aged 4-11 and runs until the 7th September. This year's theme in Creepy House and for every book the kid reads, they get a sticker to put on a Creepy House poster. At 4, the kid gets a glow in the dark bracelet and when they finish 6, they get a certificate. For more detailed information, check out their website here

Anyway, I'm volunteering at my local library again this year, which proves to be really fun. It was great last year, listening to all these kids get excited about reading their books and putting the next sticker on their poster, so I'm really looking forward to it this year, as we have a much better theme! 

The purpose of the SRC is to get children to keep reading over the summer, give them some incentive to pick up books outside of school and hopefully spark a love for books there or at least help their brain's ticking over the summer! So they read 6 books, as already mentioned. And I was thinking, obviously I'm going to read more than 6 books over two months but which 6 books do I have to read this summer? 

So I have compiled a list of "The Six Books I Must Read This Summer":

Shipwrecked by Siobhan Curham (Goodreads)
This hasn't been on my shelf that long but I really cannot wait to read it. I love Siobhan's writing and this does sound like a great book to kick off summer with!

Dead Romantic by CJ Skuse (Goodreads)
I bought this a couple of months ago and although I love CJ's writing, and loved Rockoholic, I just haven't got round to it yet. But as I met her a few weeks back I've been itching to start it. Frankenstein science and teenage girls, what could be better?

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (Goodreads)
Had this on my wishlist for ages and I won a signed, US hardback copy! Dream come true. 

Paper Towns by John Green (Goodreads)
Bought this along with Dead Romantic. This is one of the last John Green book's I have still to read (also have Will Grayson, Will Grayson if you're interested) and I'm looking forward to this one, heard so many great things. 

Demon Trappers series by Jana Oliver (Goodreads) 
Obviously not a book (duh!) but the series of four books have been on my shelves since November and it's been a while since I read a proper urban-fantasy series and I'm aching for a good one! 

Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne (Goodreads)
So, I might have had this sat on my shelves since last summer... awkward. I know every one of my blogger friend's rave about this but honestly, I'm a little scared to read it because it is nothing like my normal read. But I am making myself read it soon because I know it's really good and I have to read it!

There you have it, my summer reading. Of course there will be more but these are the one's that I'm putting ahead of the others, the one's I want to get off my TBR shelves and read because they look awesome!

Any particular books you want to read this summer? A new one that sounds perfect for the summer months, or one you've had for ages and will now have the time to read? 

Tuesday 9 July 2013

Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry

They say be a good girl, get good grades, be popular. They know nothing about me. I can’t remember the night that changed my life. The night I went from popular to loner freak. And my family are determined to keep it that way. They said therapy was supposed to help. They didn’t expect Noah. Noah is the dangerous boy my parents warned me about. But the only one who’ll listen. The only one who’ll help me find the truth. I know every kiss, every promise, every touch is forbidden. But what if finding your destiny means breaking all the rules? A brave and powerful novel about loss, change and growing up, but most of all love.

Even with all the hype and great reviews circulating this book, I knew virtually nothing about the actual story when I started it. I am very glad of this because Pushing the Limits dealt with some very tough issues that I hadn't read about before and it was fantastic and broke my heart.

Let's start with Echo. She is broken. That's pretty much it. She has just started her last term of high school after a horrible, unspeakable incident that left her with scars, physical and mental. As she attempts therapy with the new school councillor, her relationship with Noah develops into something neither of them are prepared for but both need. I felt so very sorry for Echo. She can't remember much of what happened with her mother and feels awful in her own home, uncomfortable with her scars as a reminder of who hurt her, and plain misses her brother who died in Afghanistan. But apart from that, she was a remarkable girl. Even after a past attempt to remember nearly broke her mind, she is resilient to find out the truth and I find that admirable and remarkable. 

Now for Noah. He is bad boy with a good heart, especially when it comes to his brothers. After losing his parents in a fire, they are all he has and he wants what is best for them. Having been in crappy foster homes before, he wants custody of his brothers and although I could completely understand why he wanted to care for them, I knew it was a losing battle. But that's not all; Noah is in trouble with the system after hitting his first foster father (he deserved it, trust me) which means he has meetings with the school councillor too. Mrs Collins was pretty epic, a very strong woman and sure of herself in her work, especially when it comes to these two. 

Echo's and Noah's stories are intertwined with alternate chapters and this showed both sides of the story, allowed both to have their say and to show how they both grew. As neither want to talk about what happened to them, these alternate chapters allow us to piece together their past and, at least in my case, pray for them to overcome their issues. I was a bit of an emotional wreck reading this, there were so many terrible things that both Echo and Noah had to overcome and more importantly, I could not believe how crappy their lives were! I honestly felt a little sick when I discovered the truth behind Echo's scars. 

You should read this for the story. You should stick with it because of the love and the troubles and how Echo and Noah are brave enough to not let their past define them. 
Published 31st July 2012 by Mira Ink.

Sunday 7 July 2013

Weekly Highlights: the average 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! Nothing too fancy this week, a couple of reviews and two new books :)

On The Blog

Review of Gemini Rising by Eleanor Wood - 4 stars
Review of Ink by Amanda Sun - 3.5 stars

Currently Reading

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry - will probably finish this today, it is an incredibly moving story. 

On My Bookshelf

Never Bite a Boy on the First Date by Tamara Summers

I've got a few issues: I'm a vampire now. One of my classmates was found dead, with telltale fang marks. I didn't do it! (really!) Nobody believes me, so . . . I'm going to have to find the real killer. I've already got three suspects. (three very cute suspects.) One more problem: I am seriously falling for one of them . . . but what if he's the killer?

A good find from the library, I've sort of started this, but got distracted by Pushing the Limits! But good so far, about 80 pages in.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives.

But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

Awaiting the judge’s decree, it becomes clear to Anna that everyone around her thinks she is not only guilty, but also dangerous. And when the whole story comes out, reality is more shocking than anyone ever imagined...

Another hand-me-down from Sophie as she loved it so much she ordered herself a pretty new hardback! So I got the proof to read with her assurances that it was amazing!

Friday 5 July 2013

Ink by Amanda Sun

Katie Greene is lost in the wake of her mum's death. Sent to Japan, she meets gorgeous but aloof artist Tomohiro, whose tough attitude intrigues and scares her. Then things get really strange. When they're near each other, Tomohiro's drawings start to come to life…

Soon the wrong people begin to ask questions, and Katie and Tomohiro must risk everything to protect the truth.

First off, I have to start with the excellent description of Japanese culture. The story dived right in so I was left a little confused as I have next to no experience with Japanese culture, but it was full of gorgeous descriptions and odd pieces of language that it was still enjoyable. 

The story follows Katie as she struggles to fit in at a new school in a new country and as she becomes intrigued by strange boy Tomohiro. But more on him later. I really felt for Katie. Bad enough that she was half way across the world, away from home in a strange country, but having just lost her mum, she was lost and sad and could only wander along and try to cope. I really liked her perspective as we learnt about Japan and its mythology as she did. This did mean the mystery behind Tomohiro wasn't solved for ages and I feel it was strung along for a bit too long and it wasn't quite worth the wait because I already guessed that his drawings came to life, I just wanted to know how!

Yes, Tomohiro. He was one of those bad guys with a heart of gold. He had an image to protect himself and only Katie managed to see the real him. I liked them together and although it wasn't insta-love, Katie's fascination with him felt a little weird straight away, almost stalker-ish. Sorry Katie but you were! Anyway, there was another guy, Jun, who I didn't realise was going to be important when we first met him, but was a nice distraction for Katie in a 'oh, there's a kind boy talking to me even when most avoid me because I'm foreign' sort of way. I didn't believe the love triangle that was portrayed but I liked Jun as a character fair enough. Plus, I really liked the twist with his role in the story. 

Now don't believe I didn't enjoy the book. The language barrier and the Japanese name thing confused me quite a lot which left me disconnected from the story. But the writing was great, dialogue was easy to follow, the illustrations were amazing and even if I didn't quite connect with the characters or get all the answers I wanted, it was a really good story line with a great balance of contemporary and mythology. 

Published 5th July by Mira Ink. Thank you to the publisher for my copy.

Tuesday 2 July 2013

Gemini Rising by Eleanor Wood

How far would you go to fit in? Sorana Salem is ok with being not quite bottom of the pile at her exclusive private school. Until the mysterious Johansson twins arrive unexpectedly mid-term. Hypnotically beautiful and immensely cool, magnetic Elyse and mute Melanie aren’t like the school’s usual identikit mean girls. Soon Sorana’s sharing sleepovers and Saturday nights out with the twins. But their new world of Ouidja boards and older boys might not be as simple as it seems. And the dark secrets that they share could be about to take Sorana down a path that’s impossible to turn back from…

I had no expectations about this book other than the author's reassurances that it was pretty spooky. That it was, and even though it took a while to get to that point, it was intriguing and weird enough for me to be gripped from the start.

Sorana is in sixth form at her very small, private school and when two new girls join their year half way through the school term, things are shaken up. As soon as the twins arrive, you get the feeling that they are just... wrong. They don't quite fit in and mess with the social system, plus they are very creepy. Elyse is strong-voiced and has a wicked attitude while Melanie is practically silent and so under Elyse's thumb it's stupid. As the protagonist, Sorana was a big part of the story and told from her perspective, we can only understand things as she understand's them. This sometimes leaves the reader in a lurch, which was on purpose because Sorana was so infatuated with having the twins as friends that she did not want to believe a bad word against them. Having been where Sorana was with the peer pressure thing, I was both very sympathetic and incredibly annoyed with her. It wasn't her fault, she was pretty weak when it came to the twins but that was the point. 

Once the twins have their fingers wrapped around Sorana and her friends, the book became pretty addictive. I had to know what happened, what went wrong, how they could be so weak and blind to Elyse's crazy. This crazy stemmed from a fascination with the occult. Now, I'm pretty into that myself, you know astrology and witchcraft and all that - I have an open mind. But Elyse was too... stubborn, too evil really; she just wanted power and control over everything. And this bad attitude built up and up until it had to burst. The last few chapters had this ominous feel. Actually the whole book did, like it was leading towards something terrible and you could only guess at what it could possibly be. But with Elyse's attitude and fascination with the occult, I was guessing as wildly from killing someone to rising someone from the dead. Turns out it was as bad as my guesses. 

This was a fascinating read, with everything you could want from a rock 'n' roll novel, from normal teen insecurities to the wild power of the occult and things you couldn't possibly explain. It was gripping and strange and I could not put it down. As much as Sorana annoyed me, I loved how she really did try to do good; even as she didn't understand what was going on, she did not lose what made her special. And if you wanted to blame her for what happened, the situation is always different from the middle than outside looking in. 

Published 7th June 2013 by Carina. Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for my e-copy.