Tuesday 30 December 2014

My True Love Gave To Me by Stephanie Perkins et al.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me ...This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.

This was an absolutely adorable Christmas anthology. With some of my favourite authors as well as well-known but so far unread by me, there were some stories I was looking forward to more than others but I honestly loved each and every one. 

A few of my favourites were, of course, Rainbow Rowell's, Matt de la Pena's and Stephanie Perkins'. These were all contemporary love stories and all very adorable in their normal, Christmas-y miracle way. Holly Black's and Laini Talyor's had a magical, mystical element to them that worked very well, especially in such a short story.

I read a story every day in the run up to Christmas which really helped my Christmas spirit among all the work! A great mix of styles and settings but all full of Christmas love.

Published 9th October 2014 by Macmillan. 

Sunday 28 December 2014

Weekly Highlights: the 'Christmas' edition

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

It's finally Christmas! I had two whole days off and had an amazingly lazy Christmas, I hope everyone else did too. I was working non-stop right until 2 o'clock Christmas Eve and am working all this weekend too, so I'm bloody tired! Luckily I have most of next week off so, yay free time!

On The Blog

Review of Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison (5 stars)
Review of The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable (4 stars)
Review of Vendetta by Catherine Doyle (5 stars)
Review of Crescendo, Silence, Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick (4.5 stars)

Currently Reading

Talon by Julie Kagawa - a new book, details below, one I've been enjoying fairly slowly.

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

Echo and Noah share everything.

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

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

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

These two are review books from Mira Ink; the first I've already read and absolutely loved, review to come very soon, and the second I've nearly finished.

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

A review book from Hachette which I am super excited for, it sounds really funny - thank you Hachette!

500 Words You Should Know by Caroline Taggart
Ever wanted to ameliorate your atavistic lexicon, engage in a little intellectual badinage, or been discombobulated by tricky diction? 500 Words You Should Know has you covered. This book will inspire readers to use uncommon words in their correct context, to utilize the English language to its full potential, and to test themselves on the words they think they already know. This is a book for the appreciator of correct usage, and contains words you thought you knew (decimate, caveat, nemesis), words you should know (euphemism, diatribe, tautology), and just a few that you might want to know (peripatetic, shibboleth, callipygian). Arranged thematically, each word is dissected, with a brief explanation of etymology, historical, and modern usage, allowing you to fully understand and effectively employ the word in its proper context. 

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

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

And these two are my only book Christmas presents, the first from my parents, the latter from Santa. I'm really excited for my first Holly Black book and I've already flicked through 500 Words and is very entertaining. 

Saturday 20 December 2014

Christmas holiday!

Hello everyone! This is just a quick announcement that, like most of you I'm sure, I'll be taking the Christmas week off from blogging.

I'm actually working a lot in the run up to Christmas as well as the full weekend afterward, so I won't have a chance to write much, let alone read! Ah, the joys of working retail.

Anyway, I will still be around online so come poke me on twitter, I'd love to chat. And I will see you all after Christmas with what I hope will be a huge book haul!

Merry Christmas and happy reading!

Friday 19 December 2014

Crescendo, Silence, Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick

Nora should know better than to think her life can return to normal after falling in love with a fallen angel. And Nora's life isn't normal - her dad was murdered, and the facts about his death just don't add up. Now Nora's own life is in imminent danger. Are she and Patch strong enough for the battle ahead?

This was very different to Hush Hush in that it wasn't so much a romance as a dark thriller. Also, Patch was so damn annoying in this one; he and Nora got into a big fight because Patch was hanging out with Marcie, evil incarnate, and he wouldn't explain why. I could completely understand why Nora blew a gasket, Marcie has been terrorising her since they were little and Patch couldn't justify him protecting her until the very end of the book. As for Nora, she acted quite stupidly, risking her life just to see if Patch would still come rescue her.

As I said, it wasn't so much of a romance in this one, not just because Nora and Patch broke up but also because the plot was much more complex now, with Nora's dad's death and old childhood friend is keeping strange secrets. Despite spending a lot of the book annoyed with both of them, I did really enjoy this; it was exciting and dramatic and full of twists. 

Nora Grey can't remember the past five months of her life. After the initial shock of waking up in a cemetery and being told that she has been missing for weeks - with no one knowing where she was or who she was with - she tried to get her life back on track. Go to school, hang out with her best friend, Vee, and dodge mom's creepy new boyfriend.

But there is this voice in the back of her head, an idea that she can almost reach out and touch. Visions of angel wings and unearthly creatures that have nothing to do with the life she knows. And this unshakable feeling that a part of her is missing.

Then Nora crosses paths with a sexy stranger, whom she feels a mesmerizing connection to. He seems to hold all the answers...and her heart. Every minute she spends with him grows more and more intense until she realizes she could be falling in love. Again.

Nora had been kidnapped and has returned five months later with no recollection of the entire summer. Most of the book was Nora chasing down leads to recover her memory. Even though there wasn't much new information, it was still an enjoyable story as we followed Nora's frustration and got to know Patch again.

The main plot of this book, apart from Nora's lack of memories, was the looming war between Nephilim and fallen angels, and the mystery of the Black Hand's army. In the process, we learned more about Hank Miller, Nora's biological dad, and my God he was horrible! He was twisted and egotistical and had no heart. 

I believe this was going to be the last book, which explains the lack of action and the whole 'one step forward, two steps back' feel with the amnesia. Again, I was a little disappointed with the romantic element but the story of the fallen angels and Hanks' army and everything was very cool, and very fun to read.

Nora is more certain than ever that she is in love with Patch. Fallen angel or no, he is the one for her. Her heritage and destiny may mean they are fated to be enemies, but there is no turning her back on him. Now Nora and Patch must gather their strength to face one last, perilous trial. Old enemies return, new enemies are made, and a friend's ultimate betrayal threatens the peace Patch and Nora so desperately want. The battle lines are drawn--but which sides are they on? And in the end, are there some obstacles even love can't conquer? 

At last, the final book! I have really enjoyed this series, despite my feelings about Nora and Patch sometimes, they do generally make a good team and their final battle was a good one. Coming out of the previous book as the Black Hand's successor, Nora is not only fighting the fallen angels but also her image within the Nephilim army. 

I finally felt like Nora and Patch have reached some sort of equal ground; they weren't fighting over every little decision and Nora did begin to understand that Patch was protecting her, while Patch stopped fighting her battles for her. And yet, because I'm still not entirely sure how old Nora is, I felt that their romance was a bit weird. And also sometimes inappropriate; like, you're currently dealing with a war to end all wars and you choose this moment to confess your true feelings and have a little make-out session? Hello, priorities! And back to the age thing, is Nora even old enough to be so completely in love with Patch? And the epilogue, three years later - is *someone* (avoiding spoilers) really getting married at 19? 

Anyway, rant over! Never mind all that confusion on my part, this was actually a pretty strong finale to the series; even though the prep for the war was dragged out, we did get the big fight scene and some death and sacrifices, and the perfect little twist to see everything work out in the end. Not the greatest dark romance but a very entertaining and enjoyable fallen angel story.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Vendetta by Catherine Doyle

When it comes to revenge, love is a dangerous complication.With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.

When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion in her neighbourhood, Sophie Gracewell's life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling into a criminal underworld governed by powerful families. As the boys' dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. She must choose between two warring dynasties - the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break.

This is a modern re-telling of Romeo and Juliet, but with the Mafia. Do you need anything else?

Doyle's debut told of Sophie and her quiet life at her summer job at her dad's diner. All she wants to do is save up money to get out of town, where everyone points at her because her dad is in prison. But then something exciting: a family of five brothers move into the permanently empty house at the end of the road. An instant hit with the town gossip, the boys are mysterious, not to mention hot. But there is more to them than meets the eye and as Sophie gets closer, she is in more danger than she thought.

The story was full of feuds, revenge, blood oaths and dark secrets. Sophie is left in the dark for a lot of it, which was incredibly frustrating because we are given no apparent reason to fear the boys apart from her uncle's paranoia. But then as we get to know them, we see how strange they act, how secretive they are and I at least began to fear for Sophie and her involvement.

Nic was, in a word, amazing; he was surprisingly sweet and very protective of his family and later Sophie. To a point, he was scary too and understandably Sophie was terrified of how far he could hurt someone. This was when the dark underbelly of his family secrets came out and it was really interesting seeing it from Nic's perspective, who saw what they did as honourable and necessary. 

I absolutely loved this, it had everything from forbidden romance to violence in abandoned warehouses. It was scaring and thrilling and surprisingly romantic; I cannot wait to read the sequel and see how far Sophie is willing to go for Nic. 

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

Friday 12 December 2014

The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable

Alone in the world, Sophie dreams of being someone special, but she could never have imagined this. 

On a school trip to Russia, Sophie and her two friends find themselves on the wrong train. They are rescued by the beautiful Princess Anna Volkonskaya, who takes them to her winter palace and mesmerises them with stories of lost diamonds and a tragic past. 

But as night falls and wolves prowl, Sophie discovers more than dreams in the crumbling palace of secrets

This is a bit younger than I normally read but still an amazing story. It told of Sophie, an orphan who dreams of adventure and family. When a mystery woman turns up at her school with assurances to whisk her away to Russia, Sophie can't believe her luck. Things after that are quite confusing; Sophie and her two friends apparently get on the wrong train, they are abandoned on said train and a strange man (I pictured a Hagrid-like figure here, it worked) picks them up from an empty train station in the middle of a snow storm. So yeah, definitely an adventure!

The beautiful princess Anna rescues them from the snow, welcomes them to her - admittedly cold and deserted - castle and tells them of her family, the brave prince who distracted rioters so his wife and child could flee during the revolution. There, the girls are drawn into the mystery of the family's lost diamonds and the protection of the wolves.

What I was most impressed with was the descriptions and imagery; the ice and snow over Russia was almost fantastical and I was actually shivering when the three girls were thrown out into the snow! The whole mystery of the family and the dilapidated house and the reason the girls were even there was absorbing and I had to know the truth. The influence of the folk tale aspect was very well done and did a lot to help the mystery and strange-ness of the story. I really loved this story, it was beautifully written and set out with a winter-y and fantastical elements, not to mention the harsh betrayal and the shock ending that had me gasping. 

Published January 2015 by Chicken House.

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

Sam and Hannah only have the holidays to find 'The One'. Their lobster. But instead of being epic, their summer is looking awkward. They must navigate social misunderstandings, the plotting of well-meaning friends, and their own fears of being virgins for ever to find happiness. But fate is at work to bring them together. And in the end, it all boils down to love.

This was an absolutely adorable and hilarious rom-com of a book. It perfectly described teenage life and the pressure of university alongside the normal stuff of friends and love life. It was written split between Sam and Hannah as they meet, drift apart and are thrown back together again. I loved seeing their lives intersect and how they each handled their encounters.

Now speaking of teen life, I couldn't quite believe how much the guys only cared about hooking up - boys can't really be like that or have I just been lucky to avoid it? As for the girls, Hannah and her gang were much as my friends and I were in sixth form; absolutely mental, tight-knit and talked/worried about everything from the next night out to adulthood. However I did have a slight issue with Stella. I knew girls like her, used to getting what they wanted, not knowing how to handle rejection or indeed proper boy trouble, and it's always difficult to read about because on the one hand, you want the heroine to ditch the bad friend but you can see that she's not always a bad friend. In the end, I'm glad they made peace with each other, Hannah and Stella, because fighting over boys is never a good enough reason to lose a great friend.

The whole thing of finding a great guy/girl to lose your virginity to was equal parts sweet and funny; for many people it is a big deal, to give yourself over to someone else completely and to hunt that down, for whatever reason - to get it over with or to enjoy it - will always be an adventure in love and find out more about yourself and your limits, as it were. It was a joy to read, made me laugh out loud - which is awkward on a busy train - and made my heart clench. A perfect summer contemporary with adorable characters and a heart warming story. 

Published 5th June 2014 by Chicken House.

Sunday 7 December 2014

Weekly Highlights: the 'Work, Work' 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! 

Another week filled with non-stop work. Not a whole lot to report; went to the cinema to see Mockingjay, my review went up on Friday (link below), and I finally have a Sunday off as it's family reunion time. 

On The Blog
Review of Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L Armentrout (4 stars)
Movie review: Mockingjay Part One

Currently Reading
I'm nearing the end of Vendetta by Catherine Doyle, which is amazing! Next up is Crescendo, book two in the Hush Hush series. I'm also planning on starting My True Love Gave To Me in the run-up to Christmas. 

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

Tape by Steven Camden
Record a voice and it lasts forever…

In 1993, Ryan records a diary on an old tape. He talks about his mother’s death, about his dreams, about his love for a new girl at school who doesn’t even know he exists.

In 2013, Ameliah moves in with her grandmother after her parents die. There, she finds a tape in the spare room. A tape with a boy’s voice on it – a voice she can’t quite hear, but which seems to be speaking to her.

Ryan and Ameliah are connected by more than just a tape. This is their story.

These two are books from work, the first one I requested, the latter just turned up. I am really excited about both of them though, they sound very cool in different ways. 

Home For the Holidays by Jeaniene Frost
'Tis the season to join Cat and Bones for some holiday cheer in this Night Huntress novella by USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Jeaniene Frost.

They were looking forward to a normal holiday—at least as "normal" as it gets for vampires Cat and Bones and their otherworldly friends and family. But their yuletide plans are shattered when a mysterious stranger shows up and reveals long-buried secrets that threaten to take a bite out of their holiday cheer … and lives.

Just a little cheap novella in my most favourite series ever - and just in time for Christmas!

Friday 5 December 2014

Movie review: Mockingjay Part One

If you are any kind of fan at all, I would have thought that you've already seen this movie but just in case, I call spoilers on both the book and the movie.

The one and main thing I loved about this movie was how true it was to the book. I re-read it in preparation and I'm really glad I did; I knew what horrible bits were coming and I could see all the tiny details from the book. So, the things I recognised and loved that they kept in from the book included: stepping on the skull in 12, finding Buttercup in the house, Gale and Katniss out hunting, the conditions of her being the Mockingjay. Even some lines, like 'if we burn, you burn with us' and 'it's the things we love that destroy us'. 

Seeing the familiar from the book was awesome but actually seeing the descriptions come to life... that never gets old. I loved, absolutely loved, seeing Finnick's confession alongside Peeta's rescue; that was incredibly dramatic and nerve-wrecking. Then there was extra, very cinematic, stuff like the riots in the districts; I particularly loved seeing rebels blow up the hydraulic dam in 5 after The Hanging Tree song, that was powerful stuff. We also saw Snow's response to seeing Katniss in the hospital in 8, where he reasoned that any association with the Mockingjay was considered treason; Coin and Plutarch in discussion about Katniss; Snow planning speeches; seeing the Capitol's reaction to the power outages. All of this just added to the overall story of the distrust and abuse between the Capitol and the districts. 

Even though Effie isn't in the book, I can see why they bought her in instead of Katniss's prep team; Effie is more recognizable in the movies and she does know Katniss better than she thinks so came up with good suggestions, treated Katniss like normal and all that. Speaking of treating Katniss normally, Haymitch's entrance was everything I wanted from that man: rude, sarcastic but still wanting to get the job done.

Finally, the ending/cut-off point. I wasn't really sure where they were going to end it but having it just after the rescue/murder attempt made it feel final; sort of on a cliffhanger but still like it's own movie. I can see that Part Two is going to be about Peeta's recovery and the battle into the Capitol. All in all, a fantastic portrayal of the book, an amazing movie (anyone else still got The Hanging Tree in their head?) and I cannot wait for Part Two!

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L Armentrout

Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.

But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay…

This is the sequel to White Hot Kiss which I absolutely loved. The dark romance with demons, guardian angels and forbidden love was very much a guilty pleasure and I couldn't stop myself from finding out what happened next. So, Layla is mourning Roth as he sacrificed himself to save everyone else but then he appears, alive and well! Annoying or what? To make matters worse, Roth is acting as if she meant nothing to him, which was heartbreaking.

The main plot line, apart from the boy troubles, is that Layla's powers are changing. They are on the hunt for a Lilin, a very dangerous soul-stealing demon, and Layla is worried that maybe she is the reason why students at her school are acting so weird. Roth has been tasked with finding out the truth behind all the strangle occurrences so Layla has to put up with him as they hunt for the Lilin or whatever it is. I really liked this dangerous and action-packed story, it made a change to see Layla kicking ass than just whining about boys.

Even though I liked Zayne in the first one, for some reason I didn't really fall in love with Zayne/Layla. I have no reason why, I just didn't quite believe it, not after the shear hotness of Roth. And even though Roth apparently wanted nothing to do with Layla, she was still stuck in the love triangle and while it did work - it wasn't just Layla not being able to choose, it was Roth being a douche and Zayne being a sweetheart - I don't really like love triangles.

Things made a lot more sense by the end; from the shocker twist with what's causing the wraiths, and the real reason Roth is being a huge douche. I might have some technical issues, like Layla might be funny but she can be quite weak (although she was better in this one than the first one), but it was so much fun to read and was absolutely full of twists and turns. 

Published 21st October 2014 by Harlequin Teen.

Sunday 30 November 2014

Weekly Highlights: the 'December 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! 

I might have forgotten last week because I didn't have anything to report. Work is getting manic in the run up to Christmas and apart from Christmas shopping - which I've finished, by the way! - I haven't had much of a chance to do anything. I feel like I've been playing catch up with the blog as a result but there's not much I can do about that. 

On The Blog
Review of In The Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin (4 stars)
Review of Terminated by Rachel Caine (4 stars)
Review of Captive by Aimee Carter (4.5 stars)

Currently Reading
At time of writing, I'm two thirds through Stone Cold Tough by Jennifer L Armentrout so hopefully I'll finish that this weekend. After that it's Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison; I'm feeling the need for a light-hearted rom-com before I get into the Christmas spirit.

On My Bookshelf
Amazingly, since I bought the rest of the Hush, Hush series at the event, I haven't bought a single book! This is partly because it's nearly Christmas and I've been told not to, and partly because I've spent all my money on other people's presents!

December TBR
My True Love Gave To Me, The Wolf Princess, and one review book for the new year: Vendetta. Then, depending on how my reading goes, it's up to my TBR jar!

Friday 28 November 2014

Captive by Aimee Carter

The truth can set her free

For the past two months, Kitty Doe's life has been a lie. Forced to impersonate Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, in a hostile meritocracy on the verge of revolution, Kitty sees her frustration grow as her trust in her fake fiancé cracks, her real boyfriend is forbidden and the Blackcoat rebels she is secretly supporting keep her in the dark more than ever.

But in the midst of discovering that her role in the Hart family may not be as coincidental as she thought, she's accused of treason and is forced to face her greatest fear: Elsewhere. A prison where no one can escape.

As one shocking revelation leads to the next, Kitty learns the hard way that she can trust no one, not even the people she thought were on her side. With her back against the wall, Kitty wants to believe she'll do whatever it takes to support the rebellion she believes in—but is she prepared to pay the ultimate price?

The sequel to Pawn, which was an amazing start to the trilogy, introduced the characters and the main story which continues to unfold in Captive. Kitty, as Lila, is trying to do her part in the rebellion but is not trusted by Knox, her fake fiancĂ©. And if he isn't going to tell her the truth, then she wants out; she just wants her happily ever after with Benjy. 

I read Pawn last year so details were foggy but Carter did an amazing job of summarising the best bits of the previous book. The good guys are trying to do what they can with the information gathered in the previous book, mainly the fact that Daxton is also an imposter. But without proof, it isn't much use to the rebellion, so that's what Kitty tries to do. Unfortunately, she is caught and is sent to Elsewhere, the prison and hunting ground for Extra's and criminals. We had seen some of it and heard its reputation in the first book but seeing it fully for the first time was brutal, it was truly an awful environment. 

There was a lot, like an insane amount, of lies and deception. I understand that for quite a few characters it was part of their cover as members of the rebellion, but it was very difficult to keep up with who to trust. Along with several new characters, we also saw a different side to Knox, a more harsh side that made me hate him a little bit. As for Kitty, I could understand her frustration but she also changed her mind about helping the rebellion; she wanted to be involved but she didn't want to get hurt, herself or anyone else. She kept flicking back and forth, which was not only annoying but also endangering to the cause. 

Despite some issues with the secrets and the mind-changing, this was an incredible story, quite possibly even better than Pawn! It was action packed, fast-paced and full of conspiracy and deception. I never knew what was going to happen when I turned the page, who was going to live to see another day, who was going to make it to the rebellion and what was going to happen to Elsewhere. I loved it, I read it in two days, and I cannot wait for the finale, especially after that shocker ending!

Published 1st December 2014 by Harlequin UK. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Terminated by Rachel Caine

Problems turn from dead to worse ...Already addicted to the pharmaceutical drug that keeps her body from decomposing, Bryn Davis has survived Pharmadene's attempts to destroy her. But in doing so she may have sacrificed something massive - her own humanity. Made even more dangerous than before, even to her own friends, Bryn must stop a group of rich and powerful investors from eliminating Returne addicts altogether. And meanwhile, the investors' undead assassin is on the hunt for anyone who stands in their way. It's time to terminate the oncoming corporate zombie apocalypse for good ...even if it means terminating herself along with it. 

It's been a while since I read the previous book Two Weeks Notice so details were few and far between but I had faith in Caine's writing that I'd be able to keep up and luckily I was; things came flooding back as I got lost once again in Bryn's terrifying world.
The characters are still reeling from the events of the last book, as they recover from their torture and captivity they are experiencing some serious PTSD. Bryn and Riley are still very unsure about their upgrade to super-soldier; through the course of the book, we see them as definitely more zombie-like as they need a hell of a lot of protein to keep the nanites happy. Caine uses this to explore what it means to be human and alive, as opposed to stubbornly hanging on to threads of life. It also pushes the boundaries of Bryn and Patrick's relationship as Bryn is worried about her limits.

There is non-stop action as they run for their lives and hunt down anyone tied to the Foundation Group, trying desperately to keep ahead of Jane, the evil mastermind behind a lot of the Returne and a super-soldier herself. This book had much more of the conspiracy thriller angle as they don't even know who they're looking for. My heart was definitely in my throat for a lot of this, as they are in major trouble as they are chased across the country, unable to trust anyone as they are unsure how high up this goes. As it turns out, quite high up! A great, non-stop thrilling conclusion to Bryn's story.

Published 30th September 2013 by Alison and Busby.

Friday 21 November 2014

Beautiful Chaos by Gary Russell

Wilfred Mott is very happy: his granddaughter, Donna, is back home, catching up with family and gossiping about her journeys, and he has just discovered a new star and had it named after him. He takes the Tenth Doctor with him to the naming ceremony. But the Doctor soon discovers something else new, and worryingly bright, in the heavens – something that is heading for Earth. It's an ancient force from the Dark Times. And it is very, very angry.

It's been a while since I've read a Doctor Who adventure, so I was a little out of practice of reading rather than watching the drama unfold. But with a book, there is more background to the story than with a standard episode; we learn more about the bad guys, see more of the events that lead up to the Doctor saving the day and learn more about the goings on with the Doctor and his companion, in this case Donna.

While I struggled with reading the adventure, I did really like it. My Doctor is the Tenth Doctor and I love to see anything extra from him, and his relationship with Donna is so sweet and funny. Seeing the Doctor struggle with domestics with Donna's family and how Donna fits back into her family was precious and a little heartbreaking as Donna visits on the anniversary of her father's death. But then things get complicated when a little boy knows more than he should about the Doctor's whereabouts and stars are re-aligning in the sky. 

Apart from the normal alien trying to take over the world, Russell also explored the depth of love between family members and the hardship that comes with Alzheimer's, as we are introduced to new character Netty. The way everything and everyone came together, not just for the Doctor but for each other, was amazing to see and so touching. A little difficult to keep up with in the different format but still a joy to have another adventure to experience. 

Published 7th March 2013 by BBC Books.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Event Write-Up: Black Ice Tour

On Friday 14th November, I worked my first book tour event from the other side of the table. Waterstones Swindon started Becca Fitzpatrick's Black Ice UK tour, which was incredibly fun. First up, it wasn't actually in Waterstones, it was in a nearby cafe. So Jess and I, who I was working with for the evening, hauled all our stuff, including three boxes of books, tickets and petty cash, through the shopping centre to the cafe. We then set up tables, spread out the books all prettily, had a fight with the banner, and waited for people to show up. 

Moira Young had been invited along as well, which was really cool. I had met her briefly last year at her Rebel Heart launch in Bath, but it was really nice to meet her properly. Becca was running late due to insane traffic from London and, bless her, was still jet-lagged from the plane ride over but she made it!

Becca then led the talk on her inspiration for her new book, and how she got into writing in the first place. It was really interesting hearing her talk, hearing about the writing process from the other side and she was a very funny and involved speaker. Moira then took over, talked a little about her series and what inspired her, like being taken to the movies as a child and having an epic scene-like imagination. They then took questions from the crowd, mostly things about their writing and how they chose names and if characters were based on people in their lives. Jess and I could relax during all this, we just sat in the back and laughed along with everyone else.

Then is was signing time, so we both went back to the table to sell more books and waited for everyone to leave before we could start packing up. We also had our books signed and had our picture taken with both Becca and Moira!

Just a basic talk-and-signing but it was very fun to be working it, even if it was quite tiring! I had the best time, the stall did pretty well and I got my books signed; all in all, a successful event!

Tuesday 18 November 2014

In The Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin

Anya Balanchine is a teenager with the responsibilities of a grown woman. Now eighteen, life has been more bitter than sweet for Anya. She has lost her parents and her grandmother, and has spent the better part of her high school years in trouble with the law. Perhaps hardest of all, her decision to open a nightclub with her old nemesis Charles Delacroix has cost Anya her relationship with Win.
Against the odds, the nightclub becomes an enormous success, and Anya feels like she is on her way and that nothing will ever go wrong for her again. Until a terrible misjudgment leaves Anya fighting for her life.

The final book in Anya's chronicles told the last few struggles of her teenage years and as she enters adult life. Time moved differently in this one, it was spread over a few years as she opened the club, experiences its success and grew up into a young woman. 

Quite a few things happen in this part of the story, from the troubles with the club to relationships issues. It seems to finally be over with Win, which was incredibly sad; even though he gave up on her because of going into business with his father, I wanted them to overcome their differences. It does take a while but they both seem grow up and come to some adult realizations about how they handled their teenage relationship. Then there was the one big mistake Anya recognises as her own and that was her merger/marriage with Yuji Ono so she could take over his sweet company. She went to Japan with Yuji on his deathbed  and was nearly killed. 

Anya really grew up and developed as a character, as a businesswoman and a sister and friend. She had a lot of responsibility with the club and her family and then after her near-death experience, she had to recover use of her entire body. With everything happening, Anya had a lot of time to think about how she handled things with Natty and Win. I really liked how she grew up and had finally learned how to handle the responsibility along with the worry. The finale of Anya's story was just as dramatic and heartbreaking as the first two parts, and I'm really happy to see not only her last few dramatic moments, but also to see that her life has settled into the possibility of a happy ending.

Published 24th September 2014 by Pan Macmillan. 

Sunday 16 November 2014

Weekly Highlights: the 'Fallen Angel' 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!

There was no news or new books last week. In fact, apart from the Becca Fitzpatrick/Moira Young event, there isn't much bookish news to report this week. By the time this goes up, the event will have happened but at time of writing, I have yet to attend. I plan to post a write-up next week with all the details so keep your eye out. 

On The Blog
Review of The Mediator series by Meg Cabot (5 stars)
Review of Half Bad by Sally Green (4 stars)
Review of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart (4 stars)
Review of Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (5 stars)

Currently Reading
At the time of writing (Friday afternoon), I've just started Terminated by Rachel Caine, the third in the Revivalist series. Details are foggy on the previous books but some things are coming back. Next up is a re-read of Mockingjay before the movie.

On My Bookshelf
Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L Armentrout
Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.

But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay…

A fluke find on Amazon; I read the first book White Hot Kiss a few months ago and as this was so cheap, and a bit of a guilty pleasure, I had to find out what happens next!

Trouble by Non Pratt

When the entire high school finds out that Hannah Shepard is pregnant via her ex-best friend, she has a full-on meltdown in her backyard. The one witness (besides the rest of the world): Aaron Tyler, a transfer student and the only boy who doesn’t seem to want to get into Hannah’s pants. Confused and scared, Hannah needs someone to be on her side. Wishing to make up for his own past mistakes, Aaron does the unthinkable and offers to pretend to be the father of Hannah’s unborn baby. Even more unbelievable, Hannah hears herself saying “yes.”

Told in alternating perspectives between Hannah and Aaron, Trouble is the story of two teenagers helping each other to move forward in the wake of tragedy and devastating choices. As you read about their year of loss, regret, and hope, you’ll remember your first, real best friend—and how they were like a first love.

Lobster by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
Sam and Hannah only have the holidays to find 'The One'. Their lobster. But instead of being epic, their summer is looking awkward. They must navigate social misunderstandings, the plotting of well-meaning friends, and their own fears of being virgins for ever to find happiness. But fate is at work to bring them together. And in the end, it all boils down to love.

These two are hand-me-downs from a friend at work - thank you Jess!

The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable
Alone in the world, Sophie dreams of being someone special, but she could never have imagined this. 

On a school trip to Russia, Sophie and her two friends find themselves on the wrong train. They are rescued by the beautiful Princess Anna Volkonskaya, who takes them to her winter palace and mesmerises them with stories of lost diamonds and a tragic past. 

But as night falls and wolves prowl, Sophie discovers more than dreams in the crumbling palace of secrets.

And finally this is part recommendation from Jess, a need to read it because it's Waterstone's Children's Book of the Month, and because the proof was in the staff room. It sounds amazing, a fairy-tale type of story with a winter twist, just in time for Christmas!

Friday 14 November 2014

Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

When Nora and Patch are forced together as lab partners, Nora would rather fall to her death than put up with his elusive answers to her questions, his teasing, and his infuriatingly handsome face and hypnotizing eyes. It seems Patch was put on earth just to drive her crazy.

But before long, Nora's defenses start to break down as her curiosity about Patch heats up. Why does he always seem to be wherever she is and know exactly what she's thinking? How does he know what to say to both attract and repulse her? And what is up with those V-shaped scars on his chiseled back?

As their connection grows stronger, Nora's own life becomes increasingly fragile. Nora needs to decide: Is Patch the one who wants to do her harm or the one who will keep her safe? Has she fallen for one of the fallen?

I read this because I'm working her event tonight, for her new book Black Ice, which I haven't read yet. Hush Hush has always been on my peripheral but I've never had a chance to pick it up. And that was incredibly stupid of me because it was the best sort of dark romance that I adore. It was dripping mystery and danger, keeping us guessing who the bad guy was and what exactly Patch's secret was. The dark and creepy setting was exemplified by the atmospheric windy Maine background, with early nights rushing in and bad weather keeping rescue at bay.

Even though I devoured it, there were a few things that I can easily criticise. For one, the whole 'I don't know if I can trust Patch but he's so gorgeous' thing dragged on for longer than I would have liked. I believe that was just Patch being a secretive douche rather than Nora's lack of self-control but his secret was kept hidden for just a little bit too long. The other thing could be a criticism but I'm actually praising it: the mind-trickery and suspense. As Patch was messing with Nora's mind, the line between fiction and reality was bending, and the non-knowing the truth, while incredibly frustrating, was really well written.

Nora and Patch's relationship was weird from the off, but despite my annoyance with the length of the mystery, I quite liked their developing friendship and lust. It was never a case of Nora falling head over heels, she just acknowledged the attraction; if there's one thing I hate it's insta-love. And Patch was a dangerous presence but never tried to romance her with lies. So while their relationship might be pretty weird, you know with attempted murder and stalking and the almost death threats, it was almost-cliched dark romance but still so entertaining to read and I can't wait to see where they go next.

Published 1st January 2009 by Simon and Schuster.