Wednesday 29 April 2015

I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson

Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close - until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don't realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world. 

Split between dual narratives, Noah in the past at 13, Jude in the present at 16, you slowly piece together what drove them apart, the little things that escalated and how fate won't let them stay apart. The story and the writing was breathtaking in its passion, for art and poetry, for each other, to find that twin connection again, and of course for their loves.

I'm going to do something a little crazy and just stop. This is an absolutely beautiful book and you all need to read it. Right now. Nothing I can say will do it justice. Just go read it.

Published 2nd April 2015 by Walker. 

Monday 27 April 2015

New Girl by Paige Harbison

The Queen Bee’s missing. Will you be next?

It’s hard fitting in as the new girl among the rich elite at Manderley Academy especially when you’re assigned to the old room of the perfect, popular Becca – who’s disappeared. Everyone acts like it’s your fault – and you can’t leave the mystery alone. What really happened to Becca? And what other sinister secrets have been kept hidden in the school’s dark hallways?

Learning to survive Manderley’s cut-throat social scene, you can’t help but follow in Becca’s footsteps, even falling for Max, the boy she left behind. Although sometimes it seems that Becca’s still out there, watching you take her place. Waiting to take it back…

Told from dual perspective, past and present, we see the school's new girl unconsciously mirroring hot shot and mean girl Becca's school life from the year before. You might expect some typical mean girl backstabbing and spreading lies, but it was actually a great story, primarily about discovering yourself.

One big thing about this was that New Girl wasn't named. At first it was a bit weird, not knowing her name, but as we were inside her head, after a while I forgot I didn't know it! As we got to know the new girl and her new home and friends, we had the backdrop of boarding school life with the added pressure of a possible murder mystery. I have to say, I didn't really expect much from this book, but it shocked me how much I loved it.

Becca was a weird one. She took attention seeking to the extreme and right at the beginning, I worried how far she would take it. Seeing her time at Manderley's was a very interesting mirror to the present, as we pieced together the lies that the group still believed from Becca's time, and the influence she had over all of them. As for New Girl, she had a lot of live up to, even if she didn't want to. I immediately felt sorry for her but quickly grew to like and respect her; she was strong and fairly tough, but not completely thick-skinned; you could tell all this being compared to Becca malarkey was getting to her. Not only was it unfair, it was also completely pointless, as she had no interest in replacing Becca. 

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. It was atmospheric and a little chilling, with unforgettable characters and an insight into the psychological drama that is often ignored.

Published 1st January 2012 by Mira Ink.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Weekly Highlights: the 'No Such Thing As Normal' 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 book filled week! I've actually had a lot of time off so I've been reading and watching TV and doing boring chore type things. It's also my last weekend at Waterstones and I will undoubtedly cry so some internet hugs would be nice. 

On The Blog
Blog Tour Review of Lies Like Loves by Louisa Reid (4.5 stars)
Review of Remix by Non Pratt (5 stars)
Review of Briar Rose by Jana Oliver (3 stars)

Currently Reading
Still making my way through TMI series - now on book 4: City of Fallen Angels. I've also started All I Know Now by Carrie Fletcher - more details below. 

On My Bookshelf
Rogue by Julie Kagawa
Deserter. Traitor. ROGUE. Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can't forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her—Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he'd signed his own death warrant. Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order's headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember's own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George. A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day...or start an all-out war?

I've already read this - keep an eye out for my review next week - and it was awesome! Thank you Mira Ink!

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
Two boys. Two secrets.

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl. 

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan. 

When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…

A moment of weakness and my last few days with my staff card, and this is what happens! I've been eyeing this up for ages and now I can finally see what all the fuss is about!

Finding Cherokee Brown by Siobhan Curham
His lips touched mine and for one split second the whole world stopped.
Then every cell in my body fizzed into life . . .

When I decided to write a book about my life I thought I'd have to make loads of stuff up. I mean, who wants to read about someone like me?

But as soon as I started writing, the weirdest thing happened. I found out I wasn't who I thought I was. And I stopped being scared. Then everything went crazy!

Best of all, I discovered that when you finally decide to be brave it's like waving a wand over your life - the most magical things can happen . . .

I believe this is the only one's of Siobhan's books I haven't read yet so I treated myself!

Seed by Lisa Heathfield
All that Pearl knows can be encapsulated in one word: Seed. It is the isolated community that she was born into. It is the land that she sows and reaps. It is the center of her family and everything that means home. And it is all kept under the watchful eye of Papa S.

At fifteen years old, Pearl is finally old enough to be chosen as Papa S’s companion. She feels excitement... and surprising trepidation that she cannot explain. The arrival of a new family into the Seed community — particularly the teenage son, Ellis — only complicates the life and lifestyle that Pearl has depended upon as safe and constant.

Ellis is compelling, charming, and worldly, and he seems to have a lot of answers to questions Pearl has never thought to ask. But as Pearl digs to the roots of the truth, only she can decide what she will allow to come to the surface.

A fluke find on Amazon, it's only £1.67! Plus everyone's been raving about it so I thought I'd join in.

All I Know Now by Carrie Hope Fletcher
We all know that growing up is hard to do, and sometimes the only thing that makes it better are the reassuring words of someone who has walked that bumpy road just a few steps ahead of you and somehow ended up as a fully-functioning adult. Carrie Hope Fletcher is that person.* Thanks to her phenomenally popular YouTube videos, Carrie has become an 'honorary big sister' to hundreds of thousands of young people who turn to her for advice, friendship and, most of all, the knowledge that things will get better.

I've been looking forward to this one for ages! I'm reading bits here and there; she's a very good, very funny writer.

Friday 24 April 2015

Briar Rose by Jana Oliver

A dark and sexy reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale from the author of THE DEMON TRAPPERS.

For Briar Rose, life is anything but a fairy tale. She's stuck in a small town in deepest Georgia with parents who won't let her out of their sight, a bunch of small-minded, gossiping neighbours and an evil ex who's spreading nasty rumours about what she may or may not have done in the back of his car. She's tired of it all, so when, on her sixteenth birthday, her parents tell her that she is cursed and will go to sleep for a hundred years when the clock strikes midnight, she's actually kind of glad to leave it all behind. She says her goodbyes, lies down, and closes her eyes . . . And then she wakes up. Cold, alone and in the middle of the darkest, most twisted fairy tale she could ever have dreamed of. Now Briar must fight her way out of the story that has been created for her, but she can't do it alone. She never believed in handsome princes, but now she's met one her only chance is to put her life in his hands, or there will be no happy ever after and no waking up.

I expected a lot from this. It sounded great: a girl who loves and wants to live in a fairytale falls victim to an old curse and a family feud. She falls into a deep sleep the night before her 16th birthday and wakes up in a world of her own creation. Of course, nothing can be simple and the world is part Sleeping Beauty, part Hunger Games. 

In general, I liked the story; it was a very cool idea, especially that Briar needs to save herself and her friends offer serious help. However, I was continually disappointed by Briar. She was sweet and trusting and could hold her own, but she never actually did anything herself! One of the boys saved her, and she let them, every time! She also fell too easily in love with Ruric - I know he saved her but she didn't need to fling herself at him. 

I liked Briar's friends more than I did her; best friend Reena was a witch in training and did the spell to get them all in Briar's dream world to save her butt. And Josh was incredibly sweet, maybe a little too convenient, but protective and surprisingly strong. Then there was long time crush Pat, who was a huge douche but when he was sucked into the dream world too, he had the chance to redeem himself. I don't really know why he seemed to miraculously change for the better, but I liked him much more by the end. Both the boys and Ruric, prince pretending to be a stable hand, were always just where they needed to be to save the day. As much as I loved the story, things fell into places a little too easily. 

Ignoring how utterly un-hero like Briar was, I did quite like this. It was a good story, full of adventure and a bit of mystery, plus some fear and violence for good measure. The mix of characters was extraordinary and the plot line was well paced with an epic battle at the end. A good twist on fairy tales but a disappointing lead. 

Published 12th September 2013 by Macmillan Children's Books.

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Remix by Non Pratt

From the author of Trouble comes a new novel about boys, bands and best mates.

Kaz is still reeling from being dumped by the love of her life... Ruby is bored of hearing about it. Time to change the record.

Three days. Two best mates. One music festival. Zero chance of everything working out.

As I learned from Trouble, I can expect a great insight into the teenage brain with Non's novels and Remix was an amazing example of female friendship and how secrets and boys can ruin things but luckily there are some things stronger than mistakes. This story was told from the dual perspective of best friend's Kaz and Ruby as they go away to a music festival.

All that you might expect happens: flirting, bed hopping, gossip and rumours abound, and secrets get in the way of that best friendship. I loved Kaz and Ruby's relationship - they were both the sister neither of them had. They were both getting over boys and having such a close friend, plus being away from parents and rules at the festival, was just what they needed. But fate intervenes and things quickly get out of control and secrets get in the way of their friendship.

I adored this story; I literally flew through it and everything had me glued to the page, from the girls, the group of friends, to the music vibe and the scandalous behaviour. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Non can really write teenagers. I loved how real it all was - sometimes, despite your best intentions, you make mistakes and that can nearly break a relationship. But if you have a true friend, it won't matter because you still care about each other. And that's what I found so heart-warming about Kaz and Ruby: yeah, they fought and drifted apart but real friends will come when you need them.

Published 4th June 2015 by Walker Books.

Monday 20 April 2015

Blog Tour: Lies Like Love by Louisa Reid


'There were a few problems . . . bullying . . . a fire . . .'


I think she's verging on psychosis . . . now she's lashing out.


She's got no one else to fight for her.'

Sixteen year-old Audrey just wants to be normal.She's trying to fit in.But what happens when the person closest to you suffocates you with their love?What happens then?

I had no knowledge of this book before I accepted this blog tour. I read the synopsis, it sounded cool, that was that. I was sort of expecting something like Dangerous Girls but quickly realised it wasn't. And for that, I was glad; this book is absolutely incredible!

Told in dual perspective, we see Audrey and her family move to a new house, after something terrible has happened. Everything is kept close to the chest; very quickly, I got the impression that Audrey has issues but it wasn't that simple. The other side of the story is Leo, a sixth former living with his aunt down the road. Leo was adorable, he was kind and wanted to help but he was on the outside looking in, not wanting to cross a line. The whole situation, developing into something complicated and unsettling, with mental health was difficult to deal with and you could see the struggle with Leo and his aunt not understanding and feeling so helpless.

The big thing with this story was how uncomfortable it was to read. Don't get me wrong, it was amazing, but not being able to trust what you saw, and feeling powerless to help, was horrible. It was terrifying to see it unfold; the Thing, her mother (batcrap crazy, said so from the start), the mental health, the labels. Even once you knew what was happening, it takes a hell of a lot of bravery to remove yourself from that and to get over it. I feel hard for Audrey's story; it might have made my skin crawl but it was heartfelt and powerful. 

Published 5th June 2014 by Penguin. Thank you to the author for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

There is also a giveaway throughout the tour! Click on the rafflecopter link right here to win: one signed copy of Lies Like Love, one signed copy of Black Heart Blue and one bag of swag. 

Sunday 19 April 2015

Weekly Highlights: the 'Mad Book Buying' 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 didn't have a chance to do one last week, so I have rather a lot to tell you! I have never hid anything from you guys and you all know about my job hunting last year, so: I found out last week that my contract at Waterstones will be ending at the end of April. The staffing is being reshuffled and because I'm the only one on a temporary contract, I'm out. It sucks and I'm really going to miss it. So, I've gone a little bit mad with my staff discount while I can and bought all of the books! 

On The Blog
Review of Salt and Stone by Victoria Scott (5 stars)
Review of Picture Perfect and All That Glitters by Holly Smale (4 stars)
Review of The Lives and Loves of Jesobel Jones by Anna Mainwaring (3 stars)
Review of The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz (4 stars)

Currently Reading
I'm marathoning The Mortal Instruments series, right now I'm on book two.

On My Bookshelf
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

This has been on my wishlist ever since I made my wishlist! I'm so happy I finally have my hands on this; I also got Scarlet and Cress.

Night School: Legacy by CJ Daugherty  
In the last year, Allie's survived three arrests, two breakups and one family breakdown. The only bright point has been her new life at Cimmeria Academy. It's the one place she's felt she belongs. And the fact that it's brought dark-eyed Carter West into her life hasn't hurt either. But far from being a safe haven, the cloistered walls of Cimmeria are proving more dangerous than Allie could have imagined. The students and faculty are under threat, and Allie's family - from her mysterious grandmother to her runaway brother - are at the centre of the storm. Allie is going to have to choose between protecting her family and trusting her friends. But secrets have a way of ripping even the strongest relationships apart... 

I read Night School a while back and loved it and you know me, I have to complete the series for my shelves! I also got Fracture and Resistance; I'm planning on marathoning the rest of the series soon.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Love makes us such fools...

Pain in love appears to be a Roux family birthright, and for Ava Lavender, a girl born with the wings of a bird, it is key to her inheritance.

Longing to fit in with her peers, Ava ventures away from home, ill-prepared for what awaits her in a world that does not know whether to view her as girl or angel. 

Ava's quest and her family's saga build to a devastating crescendo until, on the summer solstice, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air and Ava’s fate is revealed.

A mesmerizing, lyrical tale of longing, desire and the nature of love.

I've been eyeing this one up since it was announced on Waterstones Children's Book Prize, so I've borrowed the staff room copy to see what all the fuss is about. 

It's About Love by Steven Camden
Real life is messier than the movies. A bold, thought-provoking novel from the exceptionally talented, Steven Camden.

He's Luke. She's Leia.

Just like in Star Wars. Just like they’re made for each other. Same film studies course, different backgrounds, different ends of town.

Only this isn't a film. This is real life. This is where monsters from the past come back to take revenge. This is where you are sometimes the monster.

But real life? Sometimes, only sometimes, it turns out just like in the movies…

… maybe.

The store was sent a review copy and I took it immediately! I read Tape a little while ago and really liked it, so am looking forward to what Camden comes up with next. 

Friday 17 April 2015

The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz

It is November 1890 and London is gripped by a merciless winter. Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson are enjoying tea by the fire when an agitated gentleman arrives unannounced at 221b Baker Street. He begs Holmes for help, telling the unnerving story of a scar-faced man with piercing eyes who has stalked him in recent weeks.
Intrigued, Holmes and Watson find themselves swiftly drawn into a series of puzzling and sinister events, stretching from the gas-lit streets of London to the teeming criminal underworld of Boston and the mysterious 'House of Silk'...

This is my first Sherlock Holmes novel - I know the basic stories, I've seen the movies and the BBC series - I am a fan but haven't read the original stories. So this was interesting. I could tell that Horowitz was mimicking the original writing style, which I thought he did very well but I had nothing to compare it to.

So, Watson narrates the tale from later years, which I understand is typical; from this future vantage point, we get the occasional extra titbit, like the last time Watson saw Lestrade and Watson's sadness after the loss of Holmes. The story itself was very good. It was a fairly complicated story, with multiple crimes but came full roundabout, as it so often does. I don't usually read crime, it is a different experience of uncovering clues than watching it play out on a screen. It was good, although I did have Robert Downey Junior and Stephen Fry in my head for quite a lot of the story! 

I think Horowitz did the original stories justice, adding a new Holmes story to the already great collection. The characters were amazing, just to see a different side to them was so fun, and the mystery was very well written, full of twists and typical Holmes shocks. All in all, a great book about the master of crime solving.

Published 30th August 2012 by Orion. 

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Blog Tour: The Lives and Loves of Jesobel Jones

Jesobel Jones can bake. In a truly triumphant, appearing-on-TV kind of way. But this means nothing to the rest of the world, because apparently all that cake mix is starting to show – in all the wrong places. So when she lands an invite to the Party of Year by the Boy of Her Dreams, she wonders whether it’s time for a new, improved Jess. But will life still taste as good? 

Anna Mainwaring's debut is a light-hearted and sometimes poignant take on the pressures that face teenage girls. It's hard to smile in all those selfies when you don't like the girl who looks back at you. But which is more important - looking perfect or being happy? 

What drew me to this book was the hope for a true portrayal of teen girls with weight and self-esteem issues. And I definitely got that; Jess's voice was very real and so damn easy to relate to. I might have been a fairly skinny teen but I've struggled with my weight more recently and Jess's relationship with food and her weight was surprisingly familiar! 

Mainwaring wrote about the typical turmoil of teenage life - way too many t's there! It was nice and British too, think Bridget Jones, especially with embarrassing encounters and close friends. The main focus was Jess's battle with her image and her weight. It was a really nice journey to follow her on as she wanted to feel comfortable in her skin. I do think that some parts could have been fleshed out more, especially Jess's two weeks of not eating; I definitely would have liked to see how she struggled with counting calories and the inevitable dizziness. I also kind of wanted more cooking and baking; what was mentioned was fine, but it almost came too late in the introductions. 

What I found really interesting was to see the two sides of the coin within one family: Jess who loves to cook and savour food but has put on uncontrollable weight, and Cat, her older sister, who hates to eat, hates her body, and feels miserable because of it. With both ends being incredibly dangerous to the body, it was nice to see them both work out a balance and a middle ground. I think Gran said it best: if you don't love yourself, how can you expect someone else to? And that is a very important message to all teenagers. 

Published 25th March 2015 by Portal Press. Thank you to the author for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday 10 April 2015

All That Glitters by Holly Smale

Harriet Manners has high hopes for the new school year: she's a Sixth Former now, and things are going to be different. But with Nat busy falling in love at college and Toby preoccupied with a Top Secret project, Harriet soon discovers that's not necessarily a good thing... 

Yup, bullet points again, it's that sort of thought process:
  • Harriet is starting sixth form: officially a grown up now! Except not really, as she proves
  • Even at 16, Harriet is still way to naive and trusting. First it was her competitive nature annoying her class mates, then it was all of them flocking to her because her modelling shots had been released. And she doesn't realise until too late, bless her. 
  • She changed herself. She didn't notice until the end, until she realised what she had given up, but as she was suddenly popular, she thought she could get away with things but as it turns out, of course, her classmates are shallow and never really liked her cute, quirky side.
  • Despite her being older and a little wiser, it is another heart warming story of being true to yourself and knowing who your friends are
  • I do love Harriet's stories. It may take her a while but she does learn from her mistakes and knows who to trust and it was really brave of her to make new friends and rediscover herself as an adult. Sort of. 

Published 26th February 2015 by Harper Collins. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Picture Perfect by Holly Smale

Harriet Manners knows more facts than most.

She knows that New York is the most populous city in the United States. She knows that its official motto is ‘Ever Upward’. She knows that one in thirty-eight people living in the US lives there.

But she knows nothing whatsoever about modelling in the Big Apple and how her family will cope with life stateside. Or ‘becoming a brand’ as the models in New York say. And even more importantly, what to do when the big romantic gestures coming your way aren’t from your boyfriend…

Does geek girl go too far this time?

These are a few of my thoughts:

  • Harriet moves to New York, because her dad has found a job out there, so she uses the opportunity to try her luck at modelling again - realised she missed it, missed the travelling, the excitement. But they actually moved about 2 hours outside of the city, so her dreams of a penthouse apartment with a view of New York's skyline is ruined.
  • something shocking: Harriet actually breaks the rules! She is desperate to see New York, to see Nick, that she runs away. Her parents go crazy with worry and Harriet quickly needs to learn something about taking responsibility for her actions
  • I really liked how grown up this story was, especially with Harriet going off and doing her own thing. Yeah, she should have told her parents but she needed the experience and she learned not to do it again... in the end. 
  • She also has to deal with something new: another boy liking her. But as she finds out, things are a bit more complicated than that and she discovers another rather unsavory part of modelling: weird groupies. 
  • Finally, the heartbreaking ending. It was horrible and techinically logical but still it broke my heart and it sucked

Published 5th June 2014 by HarperCollins.

Monday 6 April 2015

Salt and Stone by Victoria Scott

In FIRE & FLOOD, Tella Holloway faced a dangerous trek through the jungle and a terrifying march across the desert, all to remain a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed for a chance at obtaining the Cure for her brother. She can’t stop – and in SALT & STONE, Tella will have to face the unseen dangers of the ocean, the breathless cold of a mountain, and twisted new rules in the race.

But what if the danger is deeper than that? How do you know who to trust when everyone’s keeping secrets? What do you do when the person you’d relied on most suddenly isn’t there for support? How do you weigh one life against another?

The race is coming to an end, and Tella is running out of time, resources, and strength. At the beginning of the race there were one hundred twenty-two Contenders. As Tella and her remaining friends start the fourth and final part of the race, just forty-one are left . . . and only one can win.

We find Tella where we left her, just about surviving in the Brimstone Bleed, determined to find a cure for her brother and overthrow the horrible people that run it. The first book held the two of four tasks, which meant we still had the ocean and mountain landscapes to survive. These were even more dangerous and terrifying than the first two, which is saying something! 

Tella and Guy have had quite a few things to deal with; since Guy told her of his plan to take down the Bleed, he hasn't touched her and Tella is getting fed up. Then there's this alpha male/Tella can take charge too/ Guy doesn't trust her thing that takes them a while to work through. I really liked the progression of their relationship. Guy might have been trained for this competition but Tella is a smart girl and wants to feel valued, but Guy is used to giving out the orders. By showing a bit of compromise, they do manage to meet in the middle but it takes a bit of awkward silences and death glares to get there. 

After the loss of a few members of their little rag-tag group of survivors, they befriend some other competitors. The existing group is fraught with tension and hurt feelings, plus new members are upsetting the balance and the secrets aren't helping either. With everything riding on getting through the last two tasks, Tella is suspicious of the new allies, especially Cotton. Nothing he said quite added up and, boy, I really didn't see the twist coming but it was a goodie! Another funny one was Willow, a young and shy girl, whom I just couldn't figure out. There is something awful about putting people in these situations, it twists their sense of humanity and common decency, something that Tella especially was having a tough time with.

All in all, an incredible book, definitely didn't lag in the action or the nail-biting drama. The great story was there and continued to pack punches I didn't see coming. A great sequel to Fire and Flood and an amazing set up for the next book - that I need asap please!

Published March 2015 by Chicken House. Thank you to the publisher for a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday 5 April 2015

Weekly Highlights: the 'Happy Easter' 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 been another busy week for me at work, especially because it's the Easter holidays, so I haven't had much time to do anything. I am glad to have the next few days off though, to finally relax, catch up on my TV and my colouring. Hope everyone has an equally relaxing Easter weekend!

On The Blog
Review of Under My Skin by James Dawson (4 stars)
Review of The Curse Worker trilogy by Holly Black (5 stars)

Currently Reading
Lies Like Love - it is amazing and so damn creepy in a 'I can't believe people are this horrible and on my god, I don't know who to trust' sort of way.

On My Bookshelf
The Lives and Loves of Jesobel Jones
Jesobel Jones can bake. In a truly triumphant, appearing-on-TV kind of way. But this means nothing to the rest of the world, because apparently all that cake mix is starting to show – in all the wrong places. So when she lands an invite to the Party of Year by the Boy of Her Dreams, she wonders whether it’s time for a new, improved Jess. But will life still taste as good? 

Anna Mainwaring's debut is a light-hearted and sometimes poignant take on the pressures that face teenage girls. It's hard to smile in all those selfies when you don't like the girl who looks back at you. But which is more important - looking perfect or being happy? 

A review book from one of Faye's blog tours. I've already read this, it was pretty good. Full review to come on the 14th.

Lies Like Love by Louisa Reid

'There were a few problems . . . bullying . . . a fire . . .'

I think she's verging on psychosis . . . now she's lashing out.

She's got no one else to fight for her.'

Sixteen year-old Audrey just wants to be normal.She's trying to fit in.But what happens when the person closest to you suffocates you with their love?What happens then?

Reading this now, it is insanely gripping! Another one of Faye's blog tours, this one due on the 20th.

Killer Instinct by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Seventeen-year-old Cassie Hobbes has a gift for profiling people. Her talent has landed her a spot in an elite FBI program for teens with innate crime-solving abilities, and into some harrowing situations. After barely escaping a confrontation with an unbalanced killer obsessed with her mother’s murder, Cassie hopes she and the rest of the team can stick to solving cold cases from a distance.

But when victims of a brutal new serial killer start turning up, the Naturals are pulled into an active case that strikes too close to home: the killer is a perfect copycat of Dean’s incarcerated father—a man he’d do anything to forget. Forced deeper into a murderer’s psyche than ever before, will the Naturals be able to outsmart the enigmatic killer’s brutal mind games before this copycat twists them into his web for good?

I've been meaning to pick this up for ages and I finally treated myself to it. Looking forward to continuing the series. 

Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

This came in this week and I wanted it - then I found out we had a copy in the staff room! Can't wait to see what all the fuss is about.

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to centre stage of her own life - and suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two boys. One boy takes Lennie out of her sorrow; the other comforts her in it. But the two can't collide without Lennie's world exploding... 

After reading and loving I'll Give You The Sun, Jess has handed me down her copy of Nelson's debut. Thank you Jess, can't wait to read it!

Friday 3 April 2015

The Curse Workers trilogy by Holly Black

This series is one I've had my eye on for a while. I've only recently discovered Holly Black and knew I enjoyed her writing, so I was intrigued to read about a male protagonist. It tells of Cassel, the only non-worker in a notorious worker family. Black has created an entire alternate history where some people have innate magic powers and can "work" people by touching them. By touching anyone, his mother can make them feel whatever she wants, one brother can re-write memories, and his grandfather can kill. This society has grown to wear gloves at all times and mistrust all workers.

As we got to know Cassel and his family, it became apparent that they have lied to him about two very serious things: what really happened to Lila and him being a non-worker. These both come to light half way through the first book and get increasingly complicated throughout the series. Cassel has always thought that he killed Lila, his childhood best friend, and torments himself because of what he did. But it is revealed that his brothers have been using him to advance within a crime family and been re-writing his memories so he never knew. 

Not only are Cassel's family liars, they are criminals. Partly because workers are considered criminals, regardless of whether they've worked anyone, because of new laws, but also his family and Lila's family go way back, with mafia-style deeds. Plus Cassel has inherited some skills because he runs a gambling operation at his boarding school, and his childhood memories include running cons over rich men with his mother. As Cassel gets deeper into trouble, first with crime families, then with the government, his knowledge of planning cons comes in handy.

Over the course of the trilogy, we see Cassel grow. It's set over a few months but since Cassel learns the truth about himself and his family, he realises how he can stand up for himself and learns more about the world around him. He learns more about his power, how to control it, how to get away with it and, by the third book, how to con the government and politicians alike. 

I loved this trilogy. It was smart and funny and a little sad, but mostly Cassel was a great character to follow around and hear from. There is more and more at stake as Cassel uncovers more secrets and gets into trouble. But of course, he's learned to think on his toes and he knows the art of the con, so nothing sticks to him for long. With a protagonist like that, with some amazing secondary characters and an incredible original story, Black has created a real winner and one of my new all time favourites.