Tuesday 28 February 2017

Moondust by Gemma Fowler

MoondustWhen Lumite was discovered on the Moon, the dark days of the Earth appeared to be over. But disaster struck: a huge explosion at the first Lumite power station. Agatha, god-daughter of the founder of Lunar Inc., was sole survivor. As the 10th anniversary of the disaster looms, Aggie takes centre stage, a poster-girl for the company. But a chance meeting with one of the prisoner-miners, the darkly attractive Danny, changes her mind about everything she knows about her world.

Humans have colonised the moon, to extract its raw materials for power. Lunar Inc is the company responsible for that power, and the explosion that really ruined the whole enterprise.

I liked Aggie at first impressions, I thought it was quite original that she didn't want to be the Angel, hated the publicity and the anxiety that came with it. She wasn't really anything special, just a normal girl, and that came across; she just wanted a normal life and to put that tragic day behind her. But the company needed the good publicity and so the Angel had to be reborn.

Aggie also had a great best-friendship with Seb but it seemed to change through the book - she didn't want it to be anything more but then was jealous of him with someone else, it just came across as quite flighty. He did support her, eventually, when she was outed (as it were) as the Angel and when she realised things weren't quite adding up on the base. I did, however, hate the insta-love. Sure, Danny was interesting but she shouldn't be hung up on this guy that met for all of five minutes, no matter how attractive he may be. 

What I wanted to read this book for, and luckily really liked, was the space/world building. The whole concept of the Dark Days of limited power and being able to colonise the moon to mine for this seemingly unlimited resource was very interesting. Of course, through the book we come to realise that the company isn't the all-conquering hero they make themselves out to be, and it was a very good commentary on human nature. 

All in all, for me the story was better than the characters; it was a slow start and then jammed everything in at the end and the characters were entertaining but not very well developed. Worth a read, if only for cool space toys. 

Published 2nd March 201 by Chicken House. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday 17 February 2017

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Wing Jones

With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

Set in Atlanta in 1995, fifteen year old Wing is torn between two worlds - China and Ghana. Mixed race and always sticking out, unlike her brother Marcus who seems to have gotten the mix right, Wing is uncomfortable in her own skin but happy to be on the sidelines. Until Marcus does something stupid and unimaginable and ends up in a coma.

Angry and tired, Wing finds something she's good at: running. She starts in secret but as more and more people find out, she is thrust into the spotlight that is usually reserved for Marcus. Wing was just an incredible character; she has always been in the shadow of her big brother but she likes it there, so when Marcus is in hospital, Wing and her family have to struggle between grief, anger, money issues and bullying. Wing may be young but she was just finding her strength and her voice, not to mention her passion in running was inspirational. I know that plenty of young women will read about Wing and find something to aspire to.

The whole story was beautifully written. Webber's use of magical realism was excellent; Wing had a dragon and lioness that helped her push herself, sort out her anger and grief, support her when the bad things happened. Then there was her mother, silently strong for her family, supporting her two kids, and her two grandmothers, Granny Dee from Ghana and LaoLao from China, both little but loud, argumentative, but love their family. It was a unique and interesting family structure, and even though Marcus' accident nearly brought it toppling down, all these women were there for each other and it warmed my heart.

This is an amazing debut, with an incredibly unique writing style and vivid characters that leaped off the pages, and a story about self-worth and chasing your dreams that everyone will find inspiration in.

Published 5th January 2017 by Walker Books.

Tuesday 14 February 2017

Top Ten Hate-To-Love Love Stories

I'm sure most of you know by now that I am a hopeless romantic, and one of my favourite romantic tropes is hate to love stories, when a girl meets a guy and things don't start off smoothly but turn into a great relationship. In no particular order - because narrowing it down to ten was hard enough - here are my favourite hate-to-love stories. 

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt
Lex and Aiden get off to a bad start when he makes fun of her clipboard. But despite trying to stay mad at him, Lex is a fangirl for his debut novel and is his liaison with the conventions she helps run. A recent addition to my favourites, this love story is one of those slow burners that fill you with the warm and fuzzies. 

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Hanna is the station captain's daughter and Nik is, for lack of a better introduction, her drug dealer. They flirt but are on completely different social standings, not to mention she once punched him for getting too handsy. But when their space station is under attack, they team up to find answers and save the rest of the crew. Who hasn't heard that love story before?

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas
If I thought that Feyre and Tamlin were good together, then the sequel (which divided opinion but I adored) blew that completely out of the water with Rhys. She might not be able to stand him at first but does at least recognise that he is her best chance of surviving this growing war.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Perhaps the best and most famous case of misunderstanding turned into epic love story there is. Need I say more?

Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
When Aria goes outside the safe haven of the dome and into the wild to find her mum, she doesn't want any help from outsider savage Perry. But they need each other to survive the wilderness and find who they are looking for.

Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)One of my absolute favourite stories ever, Cat definitely doesn't start on the right foot with Bones, as she tries to kill him, just for being a vampire. It's one of those "better the devil you know" situations as he trains her to become a better vampire hunter and wouldn't you know, they have amazing chemistry and banter as they work together. 

The Host by Stephanie Meyer
When Wanderer is planted inside Melanie's head, she doesn't expect resistance and she definitely didn't expect to be bombarded by memories of Mel's family. A unique take on an alien invasion, Wanda is divided as Mel is still very much alive inside her head and in love with Jared but Wanda is falling for Ian. But of course, being the enemy, no one trusts her, let alone wants to have feelings for her. 

Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas
Aelin might have had a few lovers through the years but her relationship with Rowan started rocky, although turned out to be the strongest. Beginning by kicking her ass in magic training, Rowan doesn't seem like the perfect guy for Aelin but they grow ever closer, by circumstance and by passion.

Crow MountainCrow Mountain by Lucy Inglis
Split between two stories, past and present, I want to talk about Emily and Nate, the eighteenth century love story. When Emily's carriage crashes in the wilds of Montana, she is unwillingly rescued by Native American lad Nate, who heals and feeds her, teaches her about the world and his culture, and they slowly fall in love. 

What's A Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne
Lottie and Will definitely don't see eye to eye when she brings him on as cameraman for her feminist project. But their banter and arguments bring them closer together and also bridge the gap between both of their sides, by forcing the other to see their point of view. 

Friday 10 February 2017

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt

UnconventionalLexi Angelo has grown up helping her dad with his events business. She likes to stay behind the scenes, planning and organizing...until author Aidan Green - messy haired and annoyingly arrogant - arrives unannounced at the first event of the year. Then Lexi's life is thrown into disarray.

In a flurry of late-night conversations, mixed messages and butterflies, Lexi discovers that some things can't be planned. Things like falling in love...

Lexi has always been part of the family business, her father has been running conventions for so long that to Lexi, it's just part of life. And she loves it, she's good at it, until Aiden calls her out on hiding behind her clipboard.

I fell completely in love with this, right from the off. It was all kinds of adorable and showcased a love of all things geeky. Speaking of, Sam is my new best friend with her mad cosplaying skills! It also highlights all different kinds of love, for family, for friends that feel like family, and new relationships.

Lexi fell for Aiden's book and his nom de plume, but it's hard separating the pseudonym for the real guy. Their relationship had a slow build up, getting to know each other, peel back the layers and all those other cliches that didn't feel like cliches when you're reading about them. As Lexi's life was dominated by conventions and Aiden was being thrust into the public life of a debut author, they didn't get that much time together. But even with the initial misunderstanding, they were so sweet together! 

From the beginning, I knew this was going to be amazing and I was right: it's one of my new favourite books, it was funny and geeky and romantic, and celebrates all of those things. Lexi and Aiden were perfect together but only because they worked at it, got over the misgivings and confusion, and started to find their place in the world. So very highly recommended. 

Published 1st February 2017 by Usborne. 

Wednesday 8 February 2017

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

HeartlessLong before she was the terror of Wonderland, she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love. Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next queen.

Then Cath meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the king and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship. Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

I am not entirely sure what I expected but I really liked it; I was maybe a little disappointed there wasn't as much madness as you'd expect from Wonderland, but the little references, the back stories, were spot on. I
n fact, for the most part, it was very much just a love story, with Cath meeting Jest but being unable to do anything about it because her mother was pushing her towards the King.

Cath was a pretty regular girl, an only child, who loved to bake and dreamed to opening up her own shop with best friend Mary Ann. But being the daughter of a marquess has expectations and doing such an unladylike thing like baking isn't one of them. At a ball held by the King, everything changes when her eyes meet Jest's, the new court Joker. I immediately feel for him, let alone Cath! He was charming and utterly adorable, and as he and Cath grow ever closer, I could feel myself wishing for that happy ending they both deserved. But of course, Cath was destined to be the Queen of Hearts, even though the King was a complete buffoon. 

Here was my main problem with this: the King was an idiot, sure, but the whole court and limited options for women had a very Victorian feel to it. I get that the original was written then and Meyer was just imitating that style, but still - in a land where animals talk, playing cards are guards and things come out of a Joker's hat, is it really that weird for a girl to just want to bake? Not to mention the total unfairness of expecting Cath to just be happy that the King has picked her, despite knowing next to nothing about her!

Like I said, it was basically a love story with Cath and Jest falling head over heels for each other despite it being completely inappropriate. There was a little drama but it didn't come to a head until the very end, as Cath and the rest of the Land of Hearts were under threat of the Jabberwock. I won't say anything else, lest I spoil it, but let's just say I really enjoyed the overall story, especially the romance, but with not a lot happening other than Cath fretting over disappointing her family, it felt quite long. A must for fans of the original story and for forbidden romances and overall madness.

Published 9th February 2017 by Macmillan. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday 7 February 2017

Books That Would Benefit From Being In Space

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is open, you could pick your theme as long as it was books that should have more or less something in them. Now, I really struggled with this but after lots of debate and scribbling notes, I decided on some books that I think would be awesome if they were set in space. Because space is amazing, right? 

How To Be Bad by E Lockhart, Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowksi
Just imagine a road trip, discovering hidden gems and strange things, but in space? Are you picturing it? Because to me, that sounds awesome! Especially teenagers flying a little second-hand spaceship and just bumping into planets. 

Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
Can't avoid the awkwardness of seeing your supposed One True Love on a spaceship, can you? Let alone finding the perfect someone to lose your virginity to, especially with limited options because space. 

Shipwrecked by Siobhan Curham
This one practically writes itself: instead of a deserted island, it's a distant planet. Definitely more wiggle room on hostile landscape, creatures, situations and all that. 

Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski
It's even harder to escape the sudden telepathy when you're all stuck on a spaceship - ooh, and what if it wasn't from a flu shot but from an alien virus? See, made better with space. 

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon
Instead of Natasha being deported, she and her family are at risk of moving to another spaceship - in my mind, I'm thinking like Star Trek outposts and refuelling stations, just go with me here. 

Whatcha think? It was surprisingly difficult to think of examples, because these are already really good books, but space is brilliant and opens up so many more options for travel, aliens, and weird and dangerous situations. Do you have any ideas for books that would be better if set in space? Or how about books that need something else (I nearly did a list on books that needed more stabbing)?

Sunday 5 February 2017

Weekly Highlights: the 'February TBR' edtion

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!

January sure dragged its feet, didn't it? Thank god for February, where it's getting lighter, slightly warmer and half term! Below are a few of my favourite posts from the last month, and I must apologise for the lack of book covers - Blogger just wasn't playing ball with images.

On The Blog
Review of Trouble Makes A Comeback by Stephanie Tromly
Review of Beware That Girl by Teresa Toten
Review of Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Currently Reading
Some Girls Do by Clodagh Murphy - I fancied something a little different and this fluffy, not-to-be-taken-seriously romp is definitely that!

On My Bookshelf
Moondust by Gemma Fowler
When Lumite was discovered on the Moon, the dark days of the Earth appeared to be over. But disaster struck: a huge explosion at the first Lumite power station. Agatha, god-daughter of the founder of Lunar Inc., was sole survivor. As the 10th anniversary of the disaster looms, Aggie takes centre stage, a poster-girl for the company. But a chance meeting with one of the prisoner-miners, the darkly attractive Danny, changes her mind about everything she knows about her world.

Space, romance and futuristic settings, I am all over this! Thank you Chicken House!

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt
Lexi Angelo has grown up helping her dad with his events business. She likes to stay behind the scenes, planning and organizing...until author Aidan Green - messy haired and annoyingly arrogant - arrives unannounced at the first event of the year. Then Lexi's life is thrown into disarray.
In a flurry of late-night conversations, mixed messages and butterflies, Lexi discovers that some things can't be planned. Things like falling in love...

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber
Jandy Nelson meets Friday Night Lights: a sweeping story about love and family from an exceptional new voice in YA. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

I bought both of these my my Christmas Waterstones voucher (thank you Sophie!) and I've already read Unconventional, which was fantastic in every way!

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love-she's lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can't stomach the idea of rejection. So she's careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie's orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly's cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness-except for the part where she is.
Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny, flirtatious, and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back.

There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's an awkward Tolkien superfan, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?

Just excuse me when I scream a little bit, which I totally did when I got auto-approved my Penguin Random House! I am so looking forward to this one, I loved Simon Versus so have high hopes for Becky's next book. Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Random House!

February TBR
My priorities are the above, especially the two review books. I would also really like to get to the two graphic novels that have been sat on my shelf since Christmas. Apart from that, I'm in a bit of a weird reading mood so any suggestions are welcome.

Friday 3 February 2017

Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

Wayfarer (Passenger, #2)All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected - Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master's heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta's past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travellers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realises that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognisable ... and might just run out on both of them.

The sequel to Passenger picks up almost immediately where we left it: Etta wakes up in the hands of the Thorns, along with supposed-to-be-dead Julian Ironwood. Meanwhile Nicholas and Sophia are on the hunt for Rose and more information on how to get back to Etta and find the astrolabe, and hopefully put an end to all this. Even though I did enjoy this, especially getting some answers, it felt really long, and had a pretty slow start as Etta and Nicholas were separated throughout time.

As with Passenger, there was a lot of jumping through time; the variety of different periods and places, both famous and normal, was fascinating. However, messing with the time line was totally confusing me! Etta and Henry go to Russia in 1919 and have dinner with the Tsar, who totally should have been dead for a year! Between this and Rose being a cagey, secretive know-it-all, I stopped guessing what was going to happen. Not that it wasn't thrilling all the same, because it was. But between the adventures there was a lot of family politics and that was both confusing and a little dull. 

What Bracken did incredibly well here was the diversity; we already knew about Nicholas's troubles being taken seriously as a African American, but now we also had a subtle gay romance when Sophia has an her eye on another traveller. Speaking of, there was lots more to be understood Sophia, as we see a different side to her, more vulnerable, as she flirts with Li Min and lets some secrets go about her childhood. 

While I enjoyed the story, I think it was the characters that really made me love this duology. Etta and Nicholas are in many ways complete opposites but they balance each other, find strength in each other, and it's quite difficult not to root for them. And then there's the secondary characters, Sophie, Li Min, Henry, Julian, Rose and of course the Grand Master himself, who made this book come to life with such complexity. I highly recommend this duology for fans of time travel, diversity, romance and swash-buckling adventures!

Published 12th January 2017 by Quercus. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday 1 February 2017

Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Bad Blood (The Naturals, #4)When Cassie Hobbes joined the FBI’s Naturals program, she had one goal: uncover the truth about her mother’s murder. But now, everything Cassie thought she knew about what happened that night has been called into question. Her mother is alive, and the people holding her captive are more powerful—and dangerous—than anything the Naturals have faced so far. As Cassie and the team work to uncover the secrets of a group that has been killing in secret for generations, they find themselves racing a ticking clock.

The bodies begin piling up, the deaths hit closer and closer to home, and it soon becomes apparent that this time, the Naturals aren’t just hunting serial killers.

They’re being hunted themselves.

This review for the finale in the Naturals series so going to be short, mostly because I don't want to give anything away. I will say I'm really glad I read books three and four so close together because the story stretches over both of them.

So, after the events of book three, we have a proper lead for Cassie's mother's case and it turns out to be pretty heart-breaking. Most of the story was about the big picture behind Cassie's mother and the band of serial killers that kidnapped her. But as Michael's childhood friend goes missing and fears she is their next victim, we learn more about Michael's guarded past and family, much of it becomes clear when we meet his father. Urgh, that man made my skin crawl and I suddenly understood why Michael pushes peoples buttons the way he does. 

This a really well written finale, as loose ends come together and Cassie remembers crucial details about her past when the case takes them to a small town that Cassie used to call home and clues lead them to the friendly neighbourhood cult. Speaking of, this is where Lia came into herself. We didn't get nearly as much as detail about Lia's back story as I would have liked but with her, every scrap of information is like gold dust and you piece together what you can. 

But the star of the show was Cassie; not just because it was her mother's case but also because she really stepped up, I think. Cassie was the only one who had memories of this town, pieces dangling just out of reach, and when it became deadly, she was brave and smart. I did totally have my heart in my throat though, and practically had whiplash from all the wrong turns and false leads but when the truth finally came out - holy crap! Definitely worth the wait! This is one of my favourite series, I might have mentioned before, and the finale was just as incredible and mind-blowing as the rest of the series. 

Published 1st November 2016 by Disney-Hyperion.