Wednesday 30 July 2014

Nine Uses for an Ex-Boyfriend by Sarra Manning

Hope Delafield hasn't always had an easy life.

She has red hair and a temper to match, as her mother is constantly reminding her. She can't wear heels, is terrified of heights and being a primary school teacher isn't exactly the job she dreamed of doing, especially when her class are stuck on the two times table.

At least Hope has Jack, and Jack is the God of boyfriends. He's sweet, kind, funny, has a killer smile, a cool job on a fashion magazine and he's pretty (but in a manly way). Hope knew that Jack was The One ever since their first kiss after the Youth Club Disco and thirteen years later, they're still totally in love. Totally. They're even officially pre-engaged. And then Hope catches Jack kissing her best friend Susie... 

Does true love forgive and forget? Or does it get mad... and get even?

You should know by now that I love and will love anything Sarra Manning writes. Simple as that. And even though this was kind of difficult to read, because I don't want my boyfriend of 7 years to do what Jack does, I still loved this story. So, the basic story is that Hope and Jack have been together forever and one night, she finds him making out with her best friend. She, understandably, throws a complete fit and comes back the next morning to Jack's apologises and insistence that it was just that once because they were tipsy. Hope doesn't want to give up on 13 years together so forgives him and he acts like the perfect boyfriend for the next week or so. 

Of course, nothing is really that perfect and even I could feel that Jack was feeling guilty for more than that one kiss. Sure enough, spoiler alert, it wasn't just the one kiss between Jack and Susie and Hope's reaction is amazing and yet very restrained. Let's just say I would have done much worse, to Jack's face. I didn't know if Hope was so in love or just being stupidly stubborn for giving Jack more chances, even after she discovers he has lied. She really wants to work on their relationship, which again I don't know is naive or brave; personally I would have trouble trusting him after discovering he'd been lying for over 5 months! But Hope is willing to look past it if he is. 

The main focus was of course on Hope and Jack's relationship and what needed fixing, but because it was told from Hope's perspective, it was also about her personal growth. I really felt for Hope, she had quite a lot of shit throughout, from Jack and her family, not to mention her work and of course Susie. Although I'm not sure it was the right thing to keep forgiving Jack, Hope was very strong with what she wanted and I admired that. I really did fall a little in love with her, as I so often do with Manning's heroines. 

There was quite a lot of shouting at the book, usually at whatever nonsense Jack came out with. At times I honestly couldn't see what Hope saw in him! But it wasn't about him, it was about Hope and her realisation that her life is more than Jack, and that's important whether or not you're in a relationship.   

Published 2nd February 2012 by Transworld.

Monday 28 July 2014

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

In downtown Manhattan there's a very special place. It might not look like much from the outside but if you enter and make your way down to the basement, you'll find something so amazing you won't believe your eyes. The Grimm Collection. It's mysterious and powerful, and in the wrong hands could be devastating ...

I've had my eye on this for a while; I am fascinated by old fairy tales and weird artefacts (I watch Grimm and Warehouse 13, so yeah!) so this proved to be right up my street.

So, it told of young Elizabeth as she starts her new job at the Collection Library, a special kind of library that houses items rather than books. The whole mystery and history behind the collection was fascinating, from old woven rugs to Snow White's mirror that speaks in rhyme. This aspect of the book was very fun but the mystery got old towards the end of the book; it seemed everything had a magical explanation, which was pretty cool but rather annoying after a while. Saying that, I did like how most things could be tied to a fairy tale I recognised, and even if I didn't, it always gave a little back story so I could keep up, for example the Twelve Princesses. 

As for the characters, they were all very interesting to meet but it was difficult to get to know them. Elizabeth was way too naive and trusting of her new friends at the Collection; I couldn't for the life of me figure out the boys Marc and Andrew, although maybe that was on purpose because Elizabeth couldn't figure them out either. And for Anjali and her little sister, things seemed to be a little too easy for them; like the little sister (whose name I've forgotten right now) just happens to know a protection spell? Maybe it was because it was all a bit simplified, it was clearly for a young reader and I wanted something a bit more complex.

That isn't to say I didn't enjoy it, it was all just a bit too easy. However, I really did like seeing the fairy tale objects holding true magic and seeing what they could actually do. The overall story was good, just a bit young for me. 

Published 2012 by Oxford University Press.

Sunday 27 July 2014

Weekly Highlights: the 'Summer' 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! 

Ah, the summer holidays! Apart from starting my hours at the library, nothing much to report from this week. Had some pretty cool book post, so there's that to look forward to; and applied for a few jobs this week that I'm hopeful for, so cross your fingers for me! 

On The Blog
Review of From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas (5 stars)
Review of Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid (4 stars)
Review of Landline by Rainbow Rowell (5 stars)

Currently Reading
Shipwrecked by Siobhan Curham, for Chapter 5's reading challenge. Been meaning to read this for so long, am really glad I've finally picked it up!

On My Bookshelf
City of Halves by Lucy Inglis
London. Girls are disappearing. They've all got one thing in common; they just don't know it yet... 

Sixteen-year-old Lily was meant to be next, but she's saved by a stranger: a half-human boy with gold-flecked eyes. Regan is from an unseen world hidden within our own, where legendary creatures hide in plain sight. But now both worlds are under threat, and Lily and Regan must race to find the girls, and save their divided city.

This sounds super cool, thank you so much Chicken House!

Friday 25 July 2014

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble. That it’s been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems besides the point now.

Maybe that was always besides the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect to him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts . . .

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

I adore Rainbow's writing (who doesn't?) and her adult books are no different from her YA books in terms of interesting characters and great story arcs. And I know a lot of you have minor issues with reading her adult books because it's difficult to relate to, and although I might not be married yet, I am old enough to understand the complexities of adult relationships. They can be complicated and especially with young children, romance and spontaneity can go out the window!

So, Georgie is a TV writer and has just been plugged for her own show but needs to write five episodes over Christmas. Which means she can't go on holiday with her family, which of course her husband hates. Leaving her home alone, Neal doesn't speak to her for the whole Christmas break, although Georgie tries. Even from the very beginning, it was heartbreaking to see their relationship crumbling at the edges. 

Rainbow used flash-backs in correlation to the magic phone to show how Georgie and Neal's relationship blossomed and grew. As they got older, it was obvious they were struggling to balance work and home and the tension was starting to show in their lack of communication. So when Georgie discovers she has this connection to a past Neal, she is estastic to be able to talk to the Neal she fell in love with. All this weird mojo with the magic phone was surprisingly realistic; she considers insanity before an actual time portal!

It was a little bit sad as she realises it may be better off to let Neal go. But she still loves him so much and is too stubborn and selfish to let him go. Which is understandably, I would be too. But talking to past-Neal makes her remember how good they are together and her family is definitely worth fighting for. So although parts of it were bittersweet, the overall feel was incredibly romantic but also realistic. Sometimes you need that big sweeping gesture and you have work for what you love.  

Published 3rd July 2014 by Orion.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

Five strangers. Countless adventures. One epic way to get lost. 

Four teens across the country have only one thing in common: a girl named LEILA. She crashes into their lives in her absurdly red car at the moment they need someone the most. 

There's HUDSON, a small-town mechanic who is willing to throw away his dreams for true love. And BREE, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. ELLIOT believes in happy endings…until his own life goes off-script. And SONIA worries that when she lost her boyfriend, she also lost the ability to love. 

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. And when Leila leaves them, their lives are forever changed. But it is during Leila's own 4,268-mile journey that she discovers the most important truth— sometimes, what you need most is right where you started. And maybe the only way to find what you're looking for is to get lost along the way.

This follows Leila as she makes her way north on an epic road trip to see the Northern Lights, but each chapter from someone else'e perspective. A really interesting way to do things but one that definitely worked, as Leila stayed this mysterious, short-term entity that floats into each of their lives and (usually) makes it better.

First up was Hudson. A mechanic's son with dreams of becoming a doctor, Leila enters the day before his big college interview. Through destiny and a little misbehaving, Hudson stays out too late with her and ends up missing the interview. He obviously blames her but Leila throws it back and says that he had plenty of opportunities of stop, maybe he didn't really want to be a doctor anyway. Well that stumped him. And that's pretty much Leila, coming into someone's life suddenly and throwing everything out of sync but setting things back on course.

She then meets Bree, teenage runaway and they both get arrested. Next up is Elliott who needs help getting the girl of his dreams. Finally Sonia is struggling with love and needs a hand getting into Canada because she has the wedding rings. In each case, Leila bumps into them and just simply by being there, being someone to talk to, she helps them take that next step or whatever it is that needs doing. 

The final chapter was Leila's. She has reached her camp site where she's going to watch the Lights and she finally shares the truth of why she's on this epic road trip. Her last step in her journey was sweet and a little bit heart-breaking as she opens up to a neighbouring family on the camp site, much like all her new friends opened up to her. Leila finds some truth in her road trip, not exactly what she was searching for but still something good. Her whole journey has taught both her and her new friends to be true to themselves and go after what they love, because life is too short. Might sound like a cliché but it's true. And after leaving Hudson in the first leg of her trip, to have a happy ending and get her semblance of family back was just perfect. An all around feel good story. 
Published 1st August 2014 by MiraInk. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Monday 21 July 2014

From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas

KYLIE: MEXICO WHAT? I should be putting the finishing touches on my valedictorian speech. Graduation is TODAY, and is this a wedding band on my finger.

MAX: It all started with Kylie's laptop and a truck full of stolen electronics. Okay, it was kind of hot, the way she broke us out like some chick in an action movie. But now we're stranded in Tijuana. With less than twenty-four hours before graduation. Awesome. 

WILL: Saving Kylie Flores from herself is kind of a full-time occupation. Luckily, I, Will Bixby, was born for the job. And when I found out she was stuck in Mexico with dreamy Max Langston, sure, I agreed to bring their passports across the border -- but there's no reason to rush back home right away. This party is just getting started. 

LILY: I just walked in on my boyfriend, Max Langston, canoodling with Kylie Flores, freak of the century. Still, I can't completely hold it against him. He NEEDS me. It's even clearer now. And I'm not giving him up without a fight.

I'm pretty sure I put this on my most anticipated reads of 2013 post last year and I can't believe it took me this long to read it! Whatever I expected of this, they were blown out of the water by how funny and sweet the story is. So, there was a brief prologue then rewind 48 hours. Goodness, I couldn't understand how things had spiralled so out of control that this was how it ended up, in just two days!

Max and Kylie find themselves stuck in the back of a truck, after trying to rescue her laptop which was stolen, and then abandoned in Mexico. Yeah, I know, bit extreme! Everything happened so fast, it went from the last day of school and the mayhem that entails, to fearing for their lives, in another country with no way back home. The film quotes at the beginning of chapters and the constant 'I was living it and couldn't believe it was really happening' added to the whole scenic and road trip aspect of the story. It was very well held together, if that makes sense; even though it all seemed so surreal, the way the characters handled things was real. And this came across very well in the dialogue, which was very teenager-y, if I can say that. Despite the ridiculousness of the story, the way they all spoke felt very real and I really felt the fear and the giddiness of the whole situation in Max and Kylie's voices. 

The story was told with alternate perspectives, which was very handy when Max and Kylie were being kidnapped to Mexico and Will was still in the city. Because we saw things from everyone's perspective, it was difficult to hate the popular girl, or the hard working nerd or whoever we were supposed to dislike. Even Lily, the stuck-up rich girl, was difficult to dislike when we find out her troubles at home. Speaking of which, there were also deeper issues explored, like the uncertainty of the future, autism and its challenges, sexuality and all sorts of things that are just a part of life. 

I really enjoyed this story, it had everything from budding romance to car chases! It was incredibly funny and really sweet and sometimes completely bonkers but so much fun to read. It was all about growing up and finding the right person for you, even if it's someone you didn't expect. 

Published 7th January 2013 by Egmont Electric Monkey. 

Sunday 20 July 2014

Weekly Highlights: the 'And the winner is..' 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! 

Not a lot to report this week, not after the drama of Comic Con! Actually, I've had a pretty boring week - done my work, my job hunting, and my reading and apart from no luck on the job side of things, it's been a good week. I've signed up for Chapter 5's Summer Reading Challenge, oh and I have my first hours at the library for the Mythical Maze SRC on Thursday, which promises to be fun.

On The Blog
Review of The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch (4 stars)
Review of Take Back The Skies by Lucy Saxon (3.5 stars)
Review of The Distance Between Us by Kasie West (4 stars)

Currently Reading
My first Chapter 5 SRC book: The Moment Collector by Jodi Lynn Anderson. Bit of a slow start but still interesting. 

On My Bookshelf
I have been so good and not bought any books this week! No book post either, not that I would have complained (*hint hint*)

And The Winner Is...
Ah, what you all, and by all I mean the few people who entered, actually care about: the winner of my song pairing competition. Entries were lower than I wanted but I'm nicely surprised by the thought of those of you who did enter. 

A few of the runner-up entries, if you will, is Esther's match of Callum and Sephy from Noughts and Crosses with These Four Walls by Little Mix - definitely a good song for the ending! Another great entry is Kayleigh's Solitare by Alice Oseman with Dreaming Out Loud by We Are In The Crowd - you would definitely have a second prize if I could manage it!
An interesting  entry, even though it's not UKYA, is Katrina's. She said The Fault In Our Stars reminds her of Leave Out All The Rest by Linkin Park, which I thought was pretty cool. 

So, the actual winner? I pick... Hawwa! She matched Soulmates by Holly Bourne with Sparks Fly by Taylor Swift, which is a great love song for Poppy and Noah. Congrats Hawwa, an email is coming your way!

Thank you everyone for your entries, it was actually quite tough to pick one winner! Thanks for playing and if you liked it, maybe I'm come up with something else soon!

Friday 18 July 2014

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.

I'll admit, I hadn't heard much of this before I spotted it, but I did like the look of the cover; it just screams summer romance, doesn't it? And it definitely was romantic, and funny and touching and a little bit sad but most importantly, totally gripping. It tells of Caymen as she works in her mother's doll shop, struggling to make ends meet and wondering what to do with her life. Enter Xander, typical rich boy, clicking his fingers and getting what he wants, but is surprisingly sweet and easy to talk to. 

Caymen was incredibly sarcastic, a typical defence mechanism which made her easy to understand completely. But with the life she's had, I'm not surprised she has trouble getting close to people. After all, Caymen is fatherless and has a seriously stressed out mother. Xander entered at just the right time to help Caymen sort her life out, and his at the same time. Caymen and Xander complimented each other, made each other laugh and feel relaxed against all odds considering their different up-bringing - they got to know each other as they tested out possible career paths, both terrified of the uncertainty of the future and not wanting to disappoint their parents.

As one would expect, it deals with much more complicated issues than first love; from their uncertain future to the issue of Caymen's family. You see, there's a reason Caymen's mother wants her to ignore Xander and go back to poor guitarist Mitch, and it has to do with Caymen's father and grandparents. Understandably, if you were pregnant and the father's parents paid you to go away, you'd have a thing against rich kids but this story was all about growth and it wasn't just Caymen that had to let go of her prejudices. 

You all know I love a good contemporary romance, and this was purely adorable and so much fun to read, but it had it's serious moments as well. I loved the growth that each character went through, especially Caymen and Xander with accepting what they truly wanted. They shouldn't have worked together but did, amazingly they just got each other. Of course, not everything in their relationship was perfect but by the end, the things that didn't work out, they promised to work on. Now that's a great relationship!

Published 2nd July 2013 by Harper Teen.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Take Back The Skies by Lucy Saxon

Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged – she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.
So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all . . .

Catherine was a privileged daughter of a big man in the government but hates the way the world works, from her future arranged marriage to the kids being taken off the streets. So she runs away from home and stows away on a merchant ship. Now, I don't know whether I skipped something in the beginning but a couple of things confused me: I wasn't sure if the other places were islands or planets, especially as they flew there; and was Cat supposed to be pretending to be a boy, or did the crew just assume?

Even though I really liked Cat, a lot of the time things just went her way. She didn't get caught on her first time pickpocketing, the crew on the ship she smuggled onto was perfectly ok with having a stowaway and the big one was that when she found that the government was hiding something from its people, the crew just followed her lead in trying to overthrow them. I mean, it's great and everything that they wanted to help, but they did it on the word of a fourteen year old girl? 

And then there was Fox. Despite his manic mood swings, going from awkward to annoying and back again, I really liked him. He was a good kid, if unused to trusting people. And I really liked Fox and Cat together, even though it was pretty obvious; however, there was a bit of insta-love and that always annoys me, add in the fact that Cat was barely 15? Yeah, not believable. 

Overall it was really good, I even sort of got used to the stupid formatting, but there were too many little niggles that didn't quite make it realistic. If it wasn't for the big ending, I'd say Cat was too much of a Mary Sue, getting her way all the time. But she was a great character, just the story could have been developed a bit differently. For a debut, it had it's typical issues that needed sorting out but I'm impressed considering she wrote this when she was 16! Worth a shot for fans of the genre, plus Lucy Saxon is definitely an author to watch. 

Published 5th June 2014 by Bloomsbury. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Monday 14 July 2014

The Oathbreaker's Shadow by Amy McCulloch

Fifteen-year-old Raim lives in a world where you tie a knot for every promise that you make. Break that promise and you are scarred for life, and cast out into the desert.

Raim has worn a simple knot around his wrist for as long as he can remember. No one knows where it came from, and which promise of his it symbolises, but he barely thinks about it at all—not since becoming the most promising young fighter ever to train for the elite Yun guard. But on the most important day of his life, when he binds his life to his best friend (and future king) Khareh, the string bursts into flames and sears a dark mark into his skin.

Scarred now as an oath-breaker, Raim has two options: run, or be killed.

I always struggle with high fantasy worlds, where there is nothing I recognise from the cultures to the geography. But even though it took me a while to get into it, it was excellent world building and the story was so worth the initial struggle. 

It followed Raim as he trains to become a Yun, a warrior, but then is forced to run when he makes a promise to protect Khareh but breaks a promise knot that's been on his wrist all his life. Raim was strong and ambitious and fiercely loyal to his best friend and future leader of his clan, as well as protective of his family. His journey was a tough one as he runs away from his clan and is forced to join other oath breaker's on their way across the desert. He befriends a few unexpected people, all of whom help him out in his quest to find the truth behind the forgotten and now broken promise.

As for Khareh, future Khan/clan leader, he was actually quite annoying. He was stubborn and a bit of a show off and used to getting his way; let's just say I didn't see what Raim saw in him and I saw his power-trip coming from the very beginning.  On the other hand, shadow Khareh, who haunts Raim, was pretty cool; he was everything that Raim remember Khareh to be, loyal and strong. And the magic was pretty damn cool, the power of the promise knots and the haunting shadows that embody that broken promise. 

All in all, I'm really glad I stuck with it; everything from the intricate story to the scenic descriptions was amazing to read and even though it was quite long, every sentence made sense and added to the plot and character development, especially Raim's. Not exactly what I expected but loved it all the same.

Published 6th June 2013 by Random House.

Sunday 13 July 2014

Weekly Highlights: the 'Comic-Con' 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 Pretty Bad Things by CJ Skuse (4 stars)
Review of Unstoppable by Liz Bankes (4 stars)
Review of Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (4 stars)

Currently Reading
Plan today is finish both Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid, and Landline by Rainbow Rowell - got less than a hundred pages on each, so an easy day after the drama of yesterday is just what I need!

On My Bookshelf
Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz

Welcome to New Vegas, a city once covered in bling, now blanketed in ice. Like much of the destroyed planet, the place knows only one temperature—freezing. But some things never change. The diamond in the ice desert is still a 24-hour hedonistic playground and nothing keeps the crowds away from the casino floors, never mind the rumors about sinister sorcery in its shadows.

At the heart of this city is Natasha Kestal, a young blackjack dealer looking for a way out. Like many, she's heard of a mythical land simply called “the Blue.” They say it’s a paradise, where the sun still shines and the waters are turquoise. More importantly, it’s a place where Nat won’t be persecuted, even if her darkest secret comes to light.

But passage to the Blue is treacherous, if not impossible, and her only shot is to bet on a ragtag crew of mercenaries led by a cocky runner named Ryan Wesson to take her there. Danger and deceit await on every corner, even as Nat and Wes find themselves inexorably drawn to each other. But can true love survive the lies? Fiery hearts collide in this fantastic tale of the evil men do and the awesome power within us all.

Picked this up on Netgalley, sounds very cool. Can't resist a good magic story and I haven't read enough of them recently, so thank you Netgalley and Hachette!

I also got a parcel from Amazon. Along with Attachments and Pretty Bad Things to be signed, I also got The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E Smith and Landline by Rainbow Rowell. 

And then it was Comic Con. I knew I was going to buy a couple of books and I did! I got The Duff and Midsummer Nightmare by Kody Keplinger from the Books With Bite stand, along with an awesome tote bag and some little goodies. I also got The Manifesto on How to be Interesting by Holly Bourne, which I got signed with Soulmates. I also met CJ Skuse again, which was awesome, and she signed my copy of Pretty Bad Things. I now have a full signed collection!

I got a couple of cool nerdy sci-fi things, including four awesome posters, two of which are The Boyfriend's, some film cells from Thor and Avengers Assemble, and a ring that has a quote from The Fault In Our Stars. Spent nearly all my money but so worth it! 

And the other exciting thing was that I met Rainbow Rowell! I was one of the last in the queue, she had been signing for nearly 2 hours or something by then, and she was still amazing! She signed my copies of Attachments and Fangirl.

Oh, I had an amazing day yesterday and I am gutted I couldn't make it today but I honestly don't know if I could manage it! My feet and my arms are killing me! Everyone going today, hope you have a great time and I'm really glad I got to meet several of you yesterday. Shout out to Sophie, Debbie and Lucy, and briefly Michelle, and new friend Bella! And of course, as Sophie put it, major boyfriend points to The Boyfriend who put up with my fangirling and book talk all day. Bring on next year!

Friday 11 July 2014

Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

Callum is a nought - a second-class citizen in a world run by the ruling Crosses...

Sephy is a Cross, daughter of one of the most powerful men in the country...

In their world, noughts and Crosses simply don't mix. And as hostility turns to violence, can Callum and Sephy possibly find a way to be together?
They are determined to try.

And the the bomb explodes... 

I have heard great things about this book for years, but I haven't had any inclination to pick it up until now. I am really glad I did, it seems like one of those books you just have to read growing up. 

It tells of childhood best friends Callum and Sephy as Callum moves to Sephy's school and the social difficulties that come after, for years. Callum is a Nought, a white person in a world run by black Crosses. Which means that transferring to a Cross school has a whole set of problems for Callum, made somewhat worse by Sephy's naivety. I know she was just trying to help but just by sitting with them at lunch, she made things worse for Callum and for herself. It was actually quite difficult to read at times, the unfairness and the injustice of the world unfortunately hasn't changed much. Although it was rather extreme; I imagine this is what it was like during the 60's, the outright racism that comes out of people. 

They both grew a lot throughout the book and luckily, Sephy stopped being such a whiny brat and became quite a smart and tough young woman. They sort of drifted apart through bad luck but never forgot how they had changed each other. They also saw the world through each other's eyes, despite Callum's insistence that Sephy was spoilt and her privileged upbringing meant she couldn't possibly understand how it really was. And while that was true when they were young but Sephy grew up and took off her rose-tinted glasses and still insisted that there was a way to make the world better for both colours.

In a way, Sephy was completely idealistic and sometimes that annoyed me but mostly it was such a pure way of thinking that I couldn't help but support and feel for her. As for Callum, he takes a rather dark direction that again, I could sort of understand but knew it wasn't going to end well. Speaking of endings, I could guess what was going to happen but it didn't make it any easier to read. The whole situation was completely unfair and there was no way that the whole social system was going to change in a few years but with both of their actions, small steps were taken in the right direction and that's the best we can hope for sometimes. 

Published 15th January 2001 by Corgi Books. 

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Unstoppable by Liz Bankes

Rosie has managed to wangle spending the summer before uni in the same house as her boyfriend Cal – but who else should also be staying except for the infamous man-eater, Cleo.

Things between Cal and Rosie could never have been described as easy, but her growing jealousy seems like an unstoppable force. Can their love weather the storm?

I knew I would love this; a contemp romance with some extra drama and paranoia, always a good combination for a good story. And this was a great story, because it didn't revolve around Rosie and Cal's relationship. Don't get me wrong, it was a huge part of it, but there was also her group of friends and worries about everyone moving away for university, the differing dynamics in Cal's house with Cleo's arrival and Rosie's sucky summer job. 

So first off, Cleo wasn't much of a man-eater. In fact, I kinda liked her, which was surprising. She kept to herself and it was obvious she had been through some serious shit. It was told mostly from Rosie's perspective but occasionally there was a letter written by Cleo, to the mysterious M, which showed a caring side to her we didn't see from Rosie's dealings with her. immediately liked Rosie, I can relate to her very easily as I'm a worrier too. A lot of her development was to do with her self-confidence which was very much lacking in the start but as she and Cal worked through their issues, she grew better aware of herself.

As for Cal, he was super adorable; dorky, funny, willing to do so much for Rosie. But it seemed like he was keeping something from her and when she see's him coming out of Cleo's room in the middle of the night, Rosie is worried. Unfortunately, instead of just talking to him about it, she let her crazy fester inside of her and mad worries run around her head. I know exactly how she feels but I was just screaming 'communicate!' at her whenever she let a moment pass. 

Of course, the situation wasn't as bad as it seemed and things were fairly innocent between Cleo and Cal but there were still some secrets that he hadn't shared about school and his future. This made things pretty awkward and everything had sort of spun out of control just because they were both scared of disappointing the other. Luckily, this is a great romantic story and things change for the better between Cal and Rosie. Actually between a lot of couples, which was really sweet and an adorable happy ending. Nothing is perfect but it's always better to be honest and use your words, something we should all remember with all our relationships. 

Published 1st July 2014 by Piccadilly Press. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Monday 7 July 2014

Pretty Bad Things by CJ Skuse

Life is not so wonderful for sixteen-year old twins, Paisley and Beau Argent. Out-cast and exploited by their money-grabbing grandmother they're still clueless about their dad's whereabouts - until they discover an old letter from him. That's when they decide to hit the road - and make headlines again.

I didn't really know much going into it, apart from the normal expectations that comes with CJ's writing. What I found was a dual narrative between the twins as they ditched their botox-ed grandmother and went on the road to find their dad. 

As I've come to expect from CJ's books, this was funny and touching at the same time, plus full of ridiculous dramatic acts of violence and arson. Yeah, that makes sense once you know Paisley's character. CJ did really well in writing completely opposing personalities; Paisley was the wild child, school drop-out, fighter and tough skinned; Beau was cautious and quiet, used to letting Paisley take the lead. They couldn't be more different but being twins, they had that connection and only had each other to lean on. 

Semi-famous from the time they were found in the woods after three days of being lost, it doesn't take long for Paisley's evil brain to use this to speed up the search for their dad, by robbing sweet shops along the Strip in Vegas! Las Vegas was just... wow. The madness of the rides, the hotels, the grand lights really came through on the page and matched their frantic search perfectly. I just hoped it worked out for them, because if anyone needs a happy ending, it was these two. 

I absolutely loved this, from Paisley's sharp wit to the weird turn their search took; it became more than just them finding their dad, they practically became national heroes for any child cut from their parents. It was very sweet and completely unexpected that they had all this support. A fantastic and very funny read that has everything I love about CJ's books.

Published 1st February 2010 by Chicken House. 

Sunday 6 July 2014

Weekly Highlights: the 'July 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! 

After the drama of YALC readathon, my reading has slowed somewhat this week, but still steady. I had an impromptu trip to the library and succumbed to a couple of books, see below. But apart from that, nothing much to report. Oh, about from I'm finally going to see The Fault In Our Stars movie this afternoon and I am so excited!

On The Blog
Review: Rage Within by Jeyn Roberts (4 stars)
Review: Geekhood: Mission Improbable by Andy Robb (4 stars)
Review: Lockwood and Co. by Johnathon Stroud (5 stars)

Currently Reading
Just finished The Distance Between Us by Kasie West last night, which was adorable and so very good. Next up is From What I Remember - only just started but good so far!

On My Bookshelf
From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas
KYLIE: MEXICO WHAT? I should be putting the finishing touches on my valedictorian speech. Graduation is TODAY, and is this a wedding band on my finger.

MAX: It all started with Kylie's laptop and a truck full of stolen electronics. Okay, it was kind of hot, the way she broke us out like some chick in an action movie. But now we're stranded in Tijuana. With less than twenty-four hours before graduation. Awesome. 

WILL: Saving Kylie Flores from herself is kind of a full-time occupation. Luckily, I, Will Bixby, was born for the job. And when I found out she was stuck in Mexico with dreamy Max Langston, sure, I agreed to bring their passports across the border -- but there's no reason to rush back home right away. This party is just getting started. 

LILY: I just walked in on my boyfriend, Max Langston, canoodling with Kylie Flores, freak of the century. Still, I can't completely hold it against him. He NEEDS me. It's even clearer now. And I'm not giving him up without a fight.

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman
In downtown Manhattan there's a very special place. It might not look like much from the outside but if you enter and make your way down to the basement, you'll find something so amazing you won't believe your eyes. The Grimm Collection. It's mysterious and powerful, and in the wrong hands could be devastating ...

These two are my library haul from this week - I'm remembering to check the library before the book shops these days, which saves me money and helps the library boosts its numbers! Anyway, I spotted FWIR to continue my contemporary romance binge and picked up TGL because the TV show Grimm has just finished and I loved it. 

July TBR
Like I said, I'm on a bit of a contemp-romance roll, so after From What I Remember, I've got Nine Uses For An Ex-boyfriend by Sarra Manning, The Grimm Legacy, then maybe Shipwrecked before I go on to my early August review books: Let's Get Lost, The Moment Collector and Between The Lives. I think it's going to be a good reading month!

Saturday 5 July 2014

Competition time!

Time for something a little different: a competition! The premise is to choose a song that matches a character's personality or story. And in the run up to YALC, we're going to make things interesting with a UKYA theme! 

Now, there are three categories: a character, a couple, or a book. You can enter one or all three, and you have all week to enter. It will finish next Saturday night and I will announce the winner Sunday 13th. And the prize? A book of your choosing (as long as it's under £10 on The Book Depository). Unfortunately, I can't afford to have a winner in each category, but if you wow me, there might be some runner-up prizes! *nudge, nudge*

And if you're struggling to get some idea's, I've got some examples: 
- Jeane from Adorkable by Sarra Manning - Salute by Little Mix
- Carter/Allie/Sylvain from Night School by CJ Daugherty - Would I Lie To You by White Snake
- Undead by Kirsty McKay - Monster by Skillet

If you can think of anything better for the one's I've used, or come up with something different, you can enter in the comments. Extra points if you explain yourselves, maybe there's just a line that resonates or a particular scene you think a song suits. 

A summary: you have a week to tell me in the comments what song you think perfectly sums up a character, a couple or a book in the UKYA genre, to win a book of your choosing from TBD. And don't forget to add your email address so I contact you if you win!

Good luck!

Edit: it seems it's taking longer than I thought for people to think of an entry, so you can have another week! Competition now closes midnight Saturday 19th, and I'll announce Sunday 20th.

Friday 4 July 2014

Lockwood and Co. by Johnathon Stroud

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . . .

I went into this knowing very little about the book and with no expectations. I don't know whether this changed the way I read it but I definitely loved it! I was a little confused at the beginning but the way he wrote, starting in the middle, then doing an introduction, then back to the middle action was quite clever and pieced together the odd pieces of information nicely. Nothing felt out of place and I never felt like I didn't understand something, everything was explained so neatly. 

Ghost stories do fascinate me but I am a scaredy-cat so don't read them very often. And while this did freak me out on a few occasions, I just loved the story so much I barely noticed. I loved how it focused more on the characters than the story, on Lucy becoming a part of the company as well as all the cases. And boy did I love the cases! The way the ghosts had integrated themselves into modern London was very clever and even though it was obvious that no-one knew why, Stroud at least had half-explanations for most things. There's nothing I hate more than an author being too lazy to fully explain their world and thank God Stroud didn't do that!

Onto the characters. I imagined Lockwood like a young Snape but dorkier, funnier and so much more adorable. I warmed to him almost immediately, with his speak first, think later way of saying ridiculous things, and his passion and stubbornness for his company. The way he completely welcomed Lucy straight away was really sweet and says a lot about Lockwood's heart and trust. Speaking of Lucy, I loved her instantly. She didn't put up with Lockwood's or George's nonsense, she held her own against Lockwood's daft nature, and she was very good with most ghostly matters. She was particularly sensitive which did mean she got into trouble quite easily but her heart was in the right place. 

The big case of the story, the haunted house with the Screaming Staircase and the Red Room was pretty terrifying. Not only was there so many damn deaths around the house but the owner refused to let them prepare properly, which obviously made me very suspicious. Luckily, Lockwood looks out for his team and after a very tense moment where I was sure they had all died, justice was served. Honestly, I don't think I could commend this book enough, I loved everything about it, even its length, because no space was wasted and every page held more ghostly revelations and witty one-liners. For fans of ghost stories or first-timers, this is a great example of the genre and comes highly recommended from this blogger. Bring on the sequel! 

Published 29th August 2013 by Doubleday.