Tuesday 29 October 2013

Resist by Sarah Crossan

The sequel—and conclusion—to Sarah Crossan's Breathe. Three teen outlaws must survive on their own in a world without air, exiled outside the glass dome that protects what's left of human civilization. Gripping action, provocative ideas, and shocking revelations in a dystopian novel that fans of Patrick Ness and Veronica Roth will devour.

Bea, Alina, and Quinn are on the run. They started a rebellion and were thrown out of the pod, the only place where there's enough oxygen to breathe. Bea has lost her family. Alina has lost her home. And Quinn has lost his privileged life. Can they survive in the perilous Outlands? Can they finish the revolution they began? Especially when a young operative from the pod's Special Forces is sent after them. Their only chance is to stand together, even when terrible circumstances force them apart. When the future of human society is in danger, these four teens must decide where their allegiances lie. Sarah Crossan has created a dangerous, and shattered society in this wrenching, thought-provoking, and unforgettable post-apocalyptic novel.

Before I start, I have to say I had to read my review of the first one to remind me of the basic story. I read it a year ago, it was obvious I had forgotten practically everything! But luckily, Crossan has this knack of summing things up without seeming to, just slipping little bits of information in that made me go 'oh yeah, I remember that!'

As it usually is with sequels, Resist was not as good as the first, but still a powerful novel. It maintained the strength of the story, the breath-taking drama (pun-intended) and the incredible characterisation. In the first book, we met Bea, Quinn and Alina and in Resist, we continue to follow them on their adventures... well, running for their lives, actually! We left them after The Grove, the resistance's hideout, had been destroyed. Without being able to go back to the Pod, they are forced to go on the hunt for another safe place, Sequoia. Pity it isn't what they thought it would be...

Resist continued with the spilt, multiple narrative but with the addition of a new character Ronan. A Premium, a soldier, friend of the Pod Minister, Ronan is quite formidable. And dangerous, as he has lost his father to the Revolutionaries and no longer knows who to trust. So when he finds Bea in the Outlands, I wasn't sure if he was going to keep his word to protect her. But eventually, luckily, Ronan finds his heart and takes off his rose-tinted glasses to way the Pod is run, and helps the resistance. I really liked Ronan's heroism in light of helping the resistance and his relationship with Bea. Speaking of which, I liked the slight development to Bea and Quinn's relationship, they were quite sweet together while trying to save the world!

Most of the protagonists were divided for quite a lot of the book which allowed the reader to see all points of the story. I found Alina's perspective interesting, especially when they were at Sequoia. Compared to The Grove, what they had done to try and help the future of the Earth was honestly a little nauseating! Anyway, what I especially liked about Resist, much like Breathe, it was so easy to read. I kinda flew through it without realising, then we were close to the end and it looked bad for the good guys! It was a dramatic and although very heart-breaking, it did have an overall tone of hope for humanity's future.

Published 8th October 2013 by Bloomsbury. Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday 25 October 2013

Top Ten (-ish) Favourite Series

This is not a new thing, but I know I haven't done it yet! Inspired by Little Book Owl's video which you can view here. To keep it organised, it will be split into three parts.

Obvious ones that I hardly need tell you about:

Harry Potter by JK Rowling
Basically the books that started me reading. I think. I know I got the first two for my eleventh birthday and I can distinctly remember reading them sat under my desk. Goddess knows why, but I did!

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

A big and popular series but I only read them because my younger brother had them! And, as the rules say, I had to read the book before watching the movie. 

The slightly less obvious ones:
Cat Royal by Julia Golding

I've been a fan of this series for years and I honestly believe that it was this series, read when I was about 14/15, that got my interested in history. I even used the third book in the series as a text for my dissertation!

It tells of a young girl, an orphan, who has grown up in the Theatre Royal. Living in the late eighteenth century London, Cat gets into all sorts of adventures, including helping a run-away slave, hanging out with a gang and getting into fights with another, trying to find a diamond - and this is just the first book! She also runs from the law and has to hide in plain sight at Eton; goes to Paris during the French Revolution and nearly gets lynched; gets stuck on a Navy ship and is forced to hide as a sailor; goes to Jamaica and is swept up in the slave revolution; and goes to Scotland and finds her family. What I adore about this series is that even with all her extravagant adventures, Cat is so easy to read and get a great sense of history.  

Georgia Nicholson by Louise Rennison 

There are six things very wrong with my life:
1. I have one of those under-the-skin spots that will never come to a head but lurk in a red way for the next two years.
2. It is on my nose

3. I have a three-year-old sister who may have peed somewhere in my room.
4. In fourteen days the summer hols will be over and then it will be back to Stalag 14 and Oberfuhrer Frau Simpson and her bunch of sadistic teachers.
5. I am very ugly and need to go into an ugly home.
6. I went to a party dressed as a stuffed olive.
In this wildly funny journal of a year in the life of Georgia Nicolson, British author Louise Rennison has perfectly captured the soaring joys and bottomless angst of being a teenager. In the spirit of Bridget Jones's Diary, this fresh, irreverent, and simply hilarious book will leave you laughing out loud. As Georgia would say, it's "Fabbity fab fab!"

Although I can't remember how I got into this series, I have loved it for years and it still makes me laugh out loud!

Demon Trappers by Jana Oliver

I read this series recently and did a massive all-in-one review for it here. Anyone who knows me knows I love a good and gritty urban fantasy but what I loved about this series was the emotional depth and its spunky heroine. Riley was given a tough lot in life and she sticks with it, never giving up even when she really wants to, because she can't. It's not what her parents would want of her and she still has friends that need her help. Plus with four books, Oliver had a great scope for developing storyline, which she did, and characters, which she did! 

Undead by Kirsty McKay
Out of sight, out of their minds: It's a school-trip splatter fest and completely not cool when the other kids in her class go all braindead on new girl Bobby. 
The day of the ski trip, when the bus comes to a stop at a roadside restaurant, everyone gets off and heads in for lunch. Everyone, that is, except Bobby, the new girl, who stays behind with rebel-without-a-clue Smitty. 
Then hours pass. Snow piles up. Sun goes down. Bobby and Smitty start to flirt. Start to stress. Till finally they see the other kids stumbling back. But they've changed. And not in a good way. Straight up, they're zombies. So the wheels on the bus better go round and round freakin' fast, because that's the only thing keeping Bobby and Smitty from becoming their classmates' next meal. It's kill or be killed in these hunger games, heads are gonna roll, and homework is most definitely gonna be late. 

A duology (that a word?) about zombies. It was very gross and fast-paced and funny and I loved it! Quite possibly the only books I've managed to read about zombies. And considering I loved it, that's saying something!

Waiting for series to finish:
Daylighters - book fifteen in Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine. Sophie can share in my pain of the ending of this series, it is so incredibly amazing and you should all read it for proper vampire drama! To be released November 2013. 

Raging Star - book three in Dustlands by Moira Young. I adore this series, with its stand-offish protagonist and her daring adventures, its abundance of boys to drool over and bad guys to fight with. To be released April 2014. 

Allegiant - book three in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth. By the time this goes up, in theory I should have this book but won't have read it yet. I'll admit to being a little apprehensive because I can't really remember much of the first two books but I'm sure I'll slip right into the world again when I start Allegiant! Released this week!

Up From The Grave - book seven in the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost. I adore Frost's writing, and her stories of Cat and Bones are so incredibly good! To be released January 2014. 

Dreams of Gods and Monsters - book three in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor, even though I haven't read the second one yet. Don't care, I'm counting it because the first book was that good! To be released April 2014. 

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

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.

I have always loved Tiger Lily and thought we really should see more of her. So a book all about her side of the story? Yes please! I adored Tiger Lily, she is a fantastic character with all her odd quirks, not fitting in with the girls but not allowed to hunt with the boys, not to mention her glaring imperfections like her internal struggle with traditions and what she wanted, and her unconventional and forbidden love for Peter. But above all she was achingly loyal and this really came across in her relationships with her tribe, and with Tink and Peter. 

I really liked how we saw Tiger Lily's village and their stories of Peter Pan before we met him. It was a nice introduction to the world, especially since it was a new take on the story. Even though I recognised little bits, like the Lost Boys' burrow and Hook's missing hand, I liked how it was different and original. Speaking of original, I was not expecting Tinker Bell to be narrator but it worked so well! I loved that Tink was this all-seeing narrator that couldn't speak but played a huge part in the story, even if she was just hovering in the background. I also deeply appreciated that Tinker Bell was not portrayed as jealous and mean like she normally is, but as caring and just as loyal as Tiger Lily to her and the boys. 

As Neverland was an island in a remote, mostly unexplored part of the world, occasionally there were visitors. Some were pirates, which is how Hook gained his crew; some were Englanders and though they were welcomed into Tiger Lily's tribe, I really disliked how they, Phillip especially, pushed their beliefs onto the island. This escalated into something awful for Tiger Lily's father Tik Tok and I felt so ashamed of my race at that moment. Wendy was part of one of these explorer ships and if I had moments of dislike in the Disney movie, then I really hated her in this! Both Tink and Tiger Lily feel threatened by her, not just because she is incredibly beautiful, but because she is poised to ruin the dynamic they had with Peter and the lost boys. They were everything to Tiger Lily but to see them throw her away for the prettier model was heartbreaking. I could completely understand Tiger Lily wanting to get a little revenge. 

Tiger Lily was a romantic and enthralling re-telling of Peter Pan which stands in its own right as part of the legend. 

Published 3rd October 2013 by Orchard Books. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday 20 October 2013

Weekly Highlights: the Birthday 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!  

So, it was my birthday on Wednesday and I was so very good and didn't ask for any more fiction books. I asked for a couple of reference books (because I'm a huge nerd) but The Boyfriend was unable to find most of them so they're being forwarded to Christmas! In other news... actually, I don't think I have other news. Unless you want to hear about the massive shopping spree I went on with my parents. No? Then that's it! Let me know what cool books you got this week. 

On The Blog
Review of Scarlet by AC Gaughen (4 stars)
Review of Hopeless by Colleen Hoover (4.5 stars) - I know I've been very vague in this review because I was so scared of spoilers, but if anyone really wants to know what happens, message me on twitter and I'll tell you.

Currently Reading
Resist by Sarah Crossan, the sequel to Breathe. Bit confusing to start because I couldn't remember how the first book ended, but quickly getting back into the swing of things!

On My Bookshelf
The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth
What is the actual connection between disgruntled and gruntled? What links church organs to organised crime, California to the Caliphate, or brackets to codpieces?

The Etymologicon springs from Mark Forsyth's Inky Fool blog on the strange connections between words. It's an occasionally ribald, frequently witty and unerringly erudite guided tour of the secret labyrinth that lurks beneath the English language, taking in monks and monkeys, film buffs and buffaloes, and explaining precisely what the Rolling Stones have to do with gardening.

Heat Wave by Richard Castle

A New York real estate tycoon plunges to his death on a Manhattan sidewalk. A trophy wife with a past survives a narrow escape from a brazen attack. Mobsters and moguls with no shortage of reasons to kill trot out their alibis. And then, in the suffocating grip of a record heat wave, comes another shocking murder and a sharp turn in a tense journey into the dirty little secrets of the wealthy. Secrets that prove to be fatal. Secrets that lay hidden in the dark until one NYPD detective shines a light. 

These two are birthday presents, the first from my boyfriend, the second from my parents. I love both of them, I think I'll really enjoy Heat Wave given how much I love Castle

Imposter by Susanne Winnacker

Tessa is a Variant with extraordinary abilities. She could be a hero, but all she wants to do is fall in love ...

Tessa is a Variant, able to absorb the DNA of anyone she touches and mimic their appearance. Shunned by her family, she's spent the last two years with the Forces with Extraordinary Abilities, a secret branch of the FBI. There she trains with other Variants, such as long-term crush Alec, who each have their own extraordinary ability.

When a serial killer rocks a small town in Oregon, Tessa is given a mission: she must impersonate Madison, a local teen, to find the killer before he strikes again. Tessa hates everything about being an impostor - the stress, the danger, the deceit - but loves playing the role of a normal girl. As Madison, she finds friends, romance, and the kind of loving family she'd do anything to keep.

How amazing does this sound? Thank you Hodder!

Friday 18 October 2013

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Sometimes discovering the truth can leave you more hopeless than believing the lies…

That’s what seventeen-year-old Sky realizes after she meets Dean Holder. A guy with a reputation that rivals her own and an uncanny ability to invoke feelings in her she’s never had before. He terrifies her and captivates her all in the span of just one encounter, and something about the way he makes her feel sparks buried memories from a past that she wishes could just stay buried.

Sky struggles to keep him at a distance knowing he’s nothing but trouble, but Holder insists on learning everything about her. After finally caving to his unwavering pursuit, Sky soon finds that Holder isn’t at all who he’s been claiming to be. When the secrets he’s been keeping are finally revealed, every single facet of Sky’s life will change forever.

Hopeless is split roughly into two halves, and I can't talk about the second half without giving everything away! Therefore, this review may be a little sparse but I'll do my best! It tells of Sky, a teen with issues, one of which being abandonment as she's adopted. The other being that she can't feel anything when she makes out with guys. Even though Sky was pretty weird, I liked her right off. She might have issues but she was funny and had great relationships with her mum and best friend. But yeah, issues. I'm not going into them, because they'd ruin the whole book. 

Even before the terrible truth is found out, you can tell that Sky is troubled. She is emotionally distant and sarcastic; of course, she has every reason to be. Ah, no spoilers! All I'm going to say is that it is heart-wrenching, and if I didn't like and sympathise with Sky before, I definitely did now! About half way through the book, there's a moment between Sky and Holder getting, let's say intimate, and Sky freaks out. I had a horrible feeling then that I knew what the bad secret was, and I didn't want to be right!

On to the love interest. Holder was very odd when you first meet him. I could not get over his hot and cold attitude, the way he was so very sweet then flipped out over seemingly nothing. On some level, I could sort of understand that he was super-protective, but on the other I wanted Sky to slap him upside the head for acting so stupidly. But, he had his moments. As it turns out, Holder knew some of the truth of Sky's past and is a fantastic help when Sky needs him most. That made me really love him.

Yeah, I knew this review would be short! I'm aware I haven't said much but I couldn't ruin it for anyone. I will say that it is a very touching love story that deals with sensitive issues. Although the terrible truth made me feel sick, I loved the story, and how Sky deals with everything was incredibly brave. 

Published 19th December 2012. 

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Scarlet by AC Gaughen

Posing as one of Robin Hood's thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her female identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only Robin and his band know the truth. As Gisbourne closes in, helping the people of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life, but her fierce loyalty to Robin-whose quick smiles have the rare power to unsettle her-keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

The story of Robin Hood is not new to me, to anyone really. The outlaw giving money to the poor is an amazing story and while re-tellings can be a bit hit-and-miss, I loved this one. 
I've always been fascinated with the tale of Robin Hood, especially after the Disney movie and then the BBC series. And Scarlet was no exception!

I adored Scarlet. Considering the character is supposed to be male, I thought Gaughen did a great job in distancing her from other versions. And yet remained very loyal to the "original" story, with Much and Little John and Gisbourne, the Crusades and Richard the Lion Heart, etc. Anyway, back to Scarlet. I thought she was very tough-skinned and had every reason to be. I liked how we got little drips of her background, to be kept guessing and to prepare us (and Robin) to the truth. I liked how she didn't like to stick around to get thanked for her work; unlike Robin, whom I've always believed to have a hero complex. And I loved her relationship with the boys, as weird and sometimes awkward as it was! Especially Rob, as he was the one who "saved" her from her previous life. 

It took a while for me to get into, mostly I believe due to the bad English. I mean, once I got used to it, I really appreciated the colloquialisms that poor country folk typically use, but it took a while to get my head round it. But I loved how the language and the story intertwined to pull together the legend of Robin Hood, with his gang and his hide outs, and Tuck's place. Plus, you know, Scarlet was a girl, which meant that hiding that fact was rather fun, if sometimes a little awkward because Little John had a thing for her! 

There was so many things I loved about this book. I loved how it seemed very loyal to the traditional one yet had its own story to tell. I loved Scar with her tough attitude and secrets, and her interactions with the rest of the gang who had their own stories to tell, all having been hurt by Nottingham in one way or another. I loved how Maid Marian and Gisbourne were woven into the story, especially how unexpectedly - but I won't say anything more, you'll just have to read it to find out! 

Published 26th Febuary 2013 by Walker Childrens. 

Friday 11 October 2013

Discussion: Does blogging ruin reading habits?

Ever think that blogging ruins your reading? Like, you have so many books to read before a release date or before the movie or even before the next one in the series, and because you have to read them fast and in quick succession, do you really get the change to enjoy them?

I'm beginning to feel like that. I'm not necessarily saying it's a bad thing but considering I know I read slower than most of my blogger friends, I have no idea how you lot manage when I'm feeling overwhelmed! 

I almost can't remember how I read before blogging. Hell, before university even! In the last few years I've had book after book to read, for study or because I had a toppling TBR pile. And maybe it's just me, but I feel like because I've barely stopped, I haven't had a chance to really enjoy them. And right now, I'm trying to decide whether that's a good or bad thing. 

One major problem with this intense reading marathon is that we often suffer from reading slumps. Mostly, and luckily, they won't last very long and are reasonably easy to shrug off. But, thinking about it, the reason we get these slumps so often is probably because we read so relentlessly! Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, but as I write, I am making all these links to blogger woes. Obviously they stem from reading so much and so quickly! 

Of course, if you're anything like me, you'll ignore pretty much everything I've just said because the pros of blogging definitely outweigh the cons. Blogging means we get the opportunity to read so many different sort of books that we might not otherwise have picked up. I almost certainly wouldn't have read Vivian Versus the Apocalypse by Katie Coyle if Hot Key hadn't offered it to me. Or have plucked up the courage to read The Drowning by Rachel Ward if Chicken House hadn't sent it to me.

I'm not entirely sure what the point of this post was (other than I needed something to post!). It seemed a lot more logically structured in my head but what I'm trying to say is, do you think that reading so quickly is good for you? Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining about blogging, or reading such a great variety of books, but I do sometimes feel so overwhelmed by the amount of books I have to read that I almost wish I went back to before, when I re-read favourites all the time and relaxed into a book for days. 

So, what do you guys think? Has blogging and reviewing and owning toppling TBR piles ruined your reading habits? Do you even remember your reading habits from before you blogged? Ever wish you didn't have such a ridiculous amount of books still to read and had time to re-visit old favourites - because I certainly do after the week I've had! Let me know what you think, or if I'm just talking even more gibberish than I normally do! 

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Portal 24 by Meredith Stroud

When teen con-artist Darius is approached by a mysterious government agent about joining a 'Project Oberon', he has no idea what to expect. Certainly not that Project Oberon is actually a top-secret experiment which sends teens back through time to prevent disasters before they happen! Before Darius has time to wonder why he's been chosen, his first mission arrives in the form of a huge electromagnetic weapon of mass destruction, which will kill millions of people in New York - unless Darius and the team can stop it. They're confident; it's all in a day's work for these teen wonders, but what they don't bet on is evil mastermind Ludd. And what they don't know is that Ludd knows the deadly secret behind Project Oberon. If Darius and the gang don't make it back to the portal within twenty-four hours, then they'll be lost in time forever...

The story starts quickly, with Darius conning tourists on the streets of Memphis and suddenly being propositioned by a government agent. They want Darius to join their team of time-travelling teens that help save the world by avoiding major disasters. The story had a really interesting premise but unfortunately it fell short of being great. 

The protagonist Darius is a con man, therefore nothing is really as it seems with him and he always appears just a bit emotionally distant. Even as we see him with his girlfriend and his new team, I didn't connect with him like I wanted to. As for the secondary characters, the rest of the team, I don't think we really understand them. They were full of contradictions, especially Constance, as awesome as she is, she didn't make much sense as a character. Saying that, I did like the variety of the characters. As simple and sort of two dimensional as they were, I liked the way the team had bonded and each member had a speciality. 

I really liked the science-fiction and time travel element, even if I didn't understand the technical explanation. I thought the whole idea of snatching up teens who are about to die and recruit them to save the world was quite cool! I also really liked the rules and restrictions, it made it feel a bit more real, like the government actually is controlling time travel. Which is a scary thought! But I did appreciate the restrictions, wouldn't want it to be too easy for them!

My main problem with this was that it was really short. The synopsis gave most of it away and that just ruined the twists. While it was non-stop and action packed, it lacked any real depth, whether this was just the length of the book or what, it had such great potential but didn't get a chance to develop. And that is a real shame because the characters would have been great if we were allowed to get to know them and the plot would have been amazing if it wasn't rushed. 

Published 5th September 2013 by Hot Key Books. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday 6 October 2013

Weekly Highlights: the mostly-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 and Around The Blog
Review of Geekhood by Andy Robb (4 stars)
Review of Skulk by Rosie Best (5 stars)

I don't do this very often, mostly because I forget to make note of the cool posts I've read, but this one I had to make an exception for! Faye of A Daydreamers Thoughts is hosting an event in November to help us all tackle our piles of Netgalley books and I think it's a great idea! I've signed up and a whole lot of others have too. Here is the post where Faye tells us all about it and don't forget to sign up!

Currently Reading
Nearly finished Hopeless by Colleen Hoover - I'm getting near the Big Secret and I have a horrible feeling I know what it is and I don't want to be right! I'm also reading Scarlet by AC Gaughen, which is a bit slow to get into but still very interesting. 

On My Bookshelf
The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher
Emily’s dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl. Emily is sure he is innocent, but what happened that night in the woods behind their house where she used to play as a child? Determined to find out, she seeks out Damon Hillary the enigmatic boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But he’s got secrets of his own about games that are played in the dark.

Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin
Since her release from Liberty Children's Facility, Anya Balanchine is determined to follow the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, her criminal record is making it hard for her to do that. No high school wants her with a gun possession charge on her rap sheet. Plus, all the people in her life have moved on: Natty has skipped two grades at Holy Trinity, Scarlet and Gable seem closer than ever, and even Win is in a new relationship.But when old friends return demanding that certain debts be paid, Anya is thrown right back into the criminal world that she had been determined to escape. It's a journey that will take her across the ocean and straight into the heart of the birthplace of chocolate where her resolve--and her heart--will be tested as never before.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

These three are hand-me-downs from Sophie. I am especially looking forward to Because It Is My Blood, and I'm going to the book launch of The Killing Woods on Wednesday so need to read that asap! Thanks Sophie, you are, as always, amazing!

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
It's 1996 and very few high school students have ever used the internet. Facebook will not be invented until several years in the future. Emma just got a computer and an America Online CD. She and her best friend Josh power it up and log on - and discover themselves on Facebook in 2011. Everybody wonders what they'll be like fifteen years in the future. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

Swapped this with Lucy (Queen of Contemporary) for Witch Crag - I am really excited about this one, sounds very cool! Thanks Lucy!

How To Love by Katie Cotungo
This is a love story. But it’s not what you think. This is not a first kiss, or a first date. This is not love at first sight. This is a boy and a girl falling in messy, unpredictable, thrilling love. This is the complicated route to happiness that follows. This is real. This is life. This is how to love.

BEFORE: Reena has loved Sawyer LeGrande for as long as she can remember. But he’s never noticed her, until one day… he does. They fall in messy, complicated love. But then Sawyer disappears from their humid Florida town, leaving a devastated – and pregnant – Reena behind.

AFTER: Three years later and there’s a new love in Reena’s life: her daughter Hannah. But just as swiftly and suddenly as he disappeared, Sawyer turns up again. After everything that’s happened, can Reena really let herself love Sawyer again?

Really like the sound of this one, we need more realistic love stories. Thank you Quercus!

The Mad Scientists Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke
"Cat, this is Finn. He's going to be your tutor".

He looks, and acts human, though he has no desire to be. He was programmed to assist his owners, and performs his duties to perfection. A billion-dollar construct, his primary task now is to tutor Cat. As she grows into a beautiful young woman, Finn is her guardian, her constant companion... and more. But when the government grants rights to the ever-increasing robot population, however, Fin struggles to find his place in the world.

Angry Robot has re-released a bunch of their old titles on Netgalley and I had to have this one! Angsty robot in love? Yes please!

Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman
Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.
The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer. 
There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.

But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?

Another reprint, as it were, by Angry Robot. I hadn't seen this first time round but I like the sound of it, if only just because it's set in Bath!

Friday 4 October 2013

Skulk by Rosie Best

When Meg witnesses the dying moments of a shapeshifting fox and is given a beautiful and powerful stone, her life changes forever. She is plunged into the dark world of the Skulk, a group of shapeshifting foxes.

As she learns about the other groups of shapeshifters that lurk around London – the Rabble, the Horde, the Cluster and the Conspiracy – she becomes aware of a deadly threat against all the shapeshifters. They must put aside all their enmity and hostility and fight together to defeat it.

Although this is about shapeshifting, don't be fooled into thinking it was childish or that's all it's about. It was so much more and I loved it for that. I loved how it was dark and a little creepy, I loved the introduction of sensitive topics like abuse and I especially loved the blending of the gritty underworld and the up-scale City life. 

I fell instantly into the under world of London, and can I just say that setting it in London is brilliant! The city is basically perfect for the creepy and secretive shifting world, with dank Tube stations and the Tower of London. Now, back to shape shifting, I really liked the mystical element of shifting. Even if it wasn't completely explained, some blanks were filled in and the bits that weren't, it wasn't because the author couldn't be bothered, it was more that it was a lost secret to the characters. That, to me, made it brilliant: as confusing and weird as it was to the reader, Meg had no more idea than we did and we found out what we could together. I also liked the variety of animals, although who would want to shift into a spider I have no idea!

I adored Meg. She was very real; she fought with her weight, didn't like the social scene her friends did, suffered terribly from emotional and physical abuse at the hands of her mother. Considering the amount of crap she has put up with, I loved how sweet and empathetic she was. She was quite tough skinned, but also very vulnerable and needed the freedom that shifting gave her. I especially liked how she gained more confidence from shifting as it allowed her to have a secret life away from her awful home life. 

Finally, I greatly appreciated the secondary characters. Addie was so amazing, considering her lot in life; James was incredibly funny in a well-spoken Artful Dodger sort of way; Suzanne was lovely and a charming mother figure that Meg desperately needed; and Mo was so very talented and ladish in a funny way. Speaking of which, the romance slipped in there was very sweet, it didn't shift focus from the main plot and as much I love a good love story, I really liked that it wasn't exaggerated and allowed to grow naturally. Or as naturally as a budding romance can grow as they're fighting for their lives against a power-hungry sorceress. 

Publisher 3rd October 2013 by Strange Chemistry. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review. 

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind by Andy Robb

If you haven't worked it out yet, girls don't do this. They don't come to the Hovel. They don't like goblins and dragons. They don't paint miniatures. They don't play role playing games or re-enact fictional battles. And they don't talk to Geeks like me especially if they're pretty. And this girl is pretty. What do you do if you're a fourteen-year-old Geek, and a Beautiful Girl has appeared in the midst of your geeky world? And she seems to like you... For Archie, the natural reaction would be to duck and cover ... run for the hills ... buy a new model elf... Anything but risk stepping into the Real World. But even Geeks have to put their heads above the parapet at some point. With his mum barely able to contain her excitement that her son is about to join the human race, and his step-father, Tony the Tosser, offering crass advice, it's time for Archie to embark on a daring Quest to win the Beautiful Girl's heart and shake off his Geekhood for good...

I knew I had to love this, and even though it was quite boy-ish, I really did! It told of Archie, fourteen year old boy who likes to play role playing board games. (You know, the Games Workshop? Oh God, I can't believe I knew that!) Archie was quite sweet but what I liked was how Robb described him as a normal boy who just happened to be a bit geeky. I liked the balance between normal life and his fantasy of role play. And even though I've never been that sort of geek, I completely understood Archie's need for escapism. 

The main point of this book is that a girl turns up. Despite being fourteen year old boys, Archie and his group of friends don't really have much contact with the female kind, and it shows! It was hilarious and endearing the way Archie wanted to show off for Sarah, introduce her to the world of miniature witches and goblins. Speaking of witches, I really liked Sarah. She was basically a Wiccan, with a New-Age mother and Goth wardrobe, incense and aura's, how could I not love her? She was very sweet and patient with Archie, and I especially liked how she genuinely wanted to help him be a better person when all he wanted was to cop a feel! 

As for his friends, they were all typical teenagers. I loved them all, how annoyingly boyish they were, how completely useless with girls and emotions, how they all stuck together against bullies. Their banter was really funny and it gave me real insight into the minds of teen boys! But the real banter came from Archie's internal monologue and his growing psychic self. As weird as it was, I'm fairly certain that most of us talk to ourselves and I loved the emphasis Robb put on Archie's IM being his voice of doubt and his strength to overcome it.

But the more important aspect of this book was the development for Archie. As he wanted to impress Sarah, he also realised that being a geek was just the coward's way out of life and had to change that. I'm not sure I agreed with how he went about changing, but it got the desired effect and Archie finally grew up and started living his life the way he wanted. In the end, it wasn't about being a Geek but just being true to yourself. And even if Archie didn't get the happy ending he wanted, I liked how it came back full circle and he realised it was just who he was that mattered. 

Published 4th June 2012 by Stripes Publishing.