Tuesday 30 May 2017

Top Ten Most Anticipated Read of July-Dec '17

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Here is my list of books I am dying to get my hands on, in the second half of this year. Apparently, and luckily I guess, most of them come out in the summer, so I won't have that long to wait! Let me know if you share any of these on your wishlists, or if there's something else you're dying to read asap!

Now I Rise (The Conqueror's Saga, #2)Now I Rise by Kiersten White - 6th July
The sequel to the absolutely amazing And I Darken where Vlad Dracul is re-imagined as a girl. We're finally getting into the gritty teenage years with Lada and I really want to see the details of her growing up into the notorious and deadly leader we know as Dracula. 

Songs About Us by Christ Russell - 13th July
The complete opposite of the above, this is the sequel to Songs About A Girl, with more boy band drama and first love heartache. 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon - 13th July
The debut that everyone has been raving about! I'm really excited about this one, I've heard amazing things and I'm looking forward to a different perspective on first love when talking about traditional arranged marriage.

Wonder Woman by Leigh Bardugo - 29th August
Ahhh! Do I really need to say more? First the film and now this book - I am over-joyed by this female-led superhero overall.

Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison - August
The Loneliest Girl in the UniverseI really liked Lobsters and Never Evers but now Tom and Lucy's new collab is set in university and I don't think I've ever been more excited for a new adult-style rom-com!

The Loneliest Girl In The Universe by Lauren James - 7th September
After The Next Together duology, I have high hopes for Lauren's next project, which is set in space! Colour me sold!

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff - 7th September
Sequel to Nevernight, which I adored even though it was pretty heavy and confusing. The world of dangerous assassins and dark magic was brilliant though, and I can't wait to find out what Mia does next on her quest for vengeance.

The Empty Grave (Lockwood & Co., #5)The Empty Grave by Jonathan Stroud - 28th September
The finale to the insanely-good series, where all questions on the skull, on the ghost problem and hopefully Lockwood and Lucy will be answered!

The Fandom by Anna Day - 5th October 
When die-hard fans are mysteriously transported into the world they love, can their knowledge help them survive? Hardcore fans, comic cons and sci-fi worlds, I am so there!

Renegades by Marissa Meyer - 7th November
And finally, we have Marissa Meyer's next book, all about futuristic robots, justice and cool super powers. It sounds a little more like her Lunar Chronicles, which is clearly where she shines, but I'm not sure if it's getting published over here, so the date might be off. 

Saturday 27 May 2017

Blog Tour: Summer at Conwenna Cove by Darcie Boleyn

Summer at Conwenna CoveEve has a glittering career, a loving husband and a future. But a terrible twist of fate means she loses it all, and with nowhere left to turn she flees to her Aunt Mary’s home in Cornwall. The last thing on her mind is romance – until she meets Jack.

Jack has seen the worst things people can do to each other and realised he is better off alone. He settles in Conwenna Cove, and saves his affections for the rescue dogs he cares for. But when Eve arrives in the village he can’t deny his attraction to her.

Eve and Jack are both scared to trust, but when they come together it’s impossible for either to ignore their feelings. Can they put their fears aside and learn to love again?

After Eve suffers a terribly and embarrassing anxiety attack at work, she takes herself away to her aunt’s for some well-deserved TLC. There, she is able to confront her demons and troubles, as well as get giddy for her aunt’s neighbour Jack. 

There was a slow build up with the romance, which was sweet and appropriate, as both of them were dealing with past baggage, but not always believable. I really wanted to root for them and for the most part I did, but there were a few little niggling moments when they were characteristically mushy or harsh. Still a very good portrayal of forgiving and looking after yourself before taking on another relationship.

There was also a pretty good representation of anxiety and grief – maybe kind of brushed over when convenient but still treated as a long term problem, not something that could just be fixed by a holiday and falling in love. 

This was not my usual book but quite liked it. There was a lot of telling rather than showing – even as Eve and Jack keep their secrets to themselves for a while, we get it narrated in their inner monologue anyway – which did quite annoy me but I got used to it. So, I had my issues but they were minor and weren’t enough to detract from a good love story about moving on and forgiveness.

Published 17th May 2017 by Canelo. Thank you to the publisher and Faye Rogers PR for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Friday 26 May 2017

Because You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

Because You'll Never Meet MeOllie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

Told in letters between two boys, we slowly get to know Ollie and Moritz as they correspond to remove the boredom and alienation that both of their conditions inspire. For Ollie, he doesn’t have much choice in being alone as he is deathly allergic to electricity and has to live in a cabin the back woods of the Midwest. Meanwhile Moritz lives in Germany and along with having a pacemaker beat his heart for him, he was also born without eyes. I have to say, this is where my heart broke for him, for both of them. Well, the first time my heart broke. 

This was such an incredibly unique story. I immediately fell for Ollie, his upbeat voice and naïve enthusiasm for the world he has never seen was contagious. But I think Moritz slowly stole my heart. They were both so different but across their words, they grew such a strong friendship and slowly began to trust each other with secrets they couldn’t bear to say out loud. 

As I said, it was told in letter format, which was an interesting style to read in, not one that is done that often. Also you only get to know what the characters are willing to reveal about themselves but you can infer a lot from context, like the shame Moritz has been carrying around, and how much of Ollie’s humour is a front.

This was such a surprise for me. It was clever and fascinating and even touched on a little sci-fi as Ollie and Moritz realise they are connected in ways they didn’t know. It was completely heart breaking but so damn good.

Published 2nd July 2015 by Bloomsbury.

Tuesday 23 May 2017

Top Ten Reads That Remind Me of Summer

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish

1 - The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
Such a brilliant summer rom-com - when Andie's internship falls through, she finds herself without plans or purpose for the whole summer break. But bumping into Clark and finding herself walking dogs lets her slow down for the first time in years and really enjoy her life.

London Belongs to Us2 - London Belongs To Us by Sarra Manning
Set over 24 hours and all across London, Sunny takes us on a wild ride to find her soon-to-be ex-boyfriend. Funny, diverse, clever and such a fast-paced read, definitely a great love letter to the city. 

3 - Love Song by Sophia Bennett
Maybe not set in the summer, but a great UKYA story about boy bands and standing up for yourself. Plus, who doesn't love to read about hot boys while sitting your garden?

4 - How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne
You might know Amber from Holly's first Spinster trilogy book Am I Normal Yet? but this is her story of going to America to meet her mum for the first time in years and spend a summer with her new family and working at their summer camp. Great British versus American banter, Harry Potter references and finding the balance between calling yourself feminist while falling in love.

5 - Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
I had to include a road trip story! After Amy's dad died in a car accident, she isn't ready to get behind the wheel to drive her car across the country to their new home. Enter Roger, family friend, willing to play chauffeur. It is the typical love story set in a car, but it's really sweet and definitely reminds me of long journeys to summer holidays. 

6 - How To Be Bad by E Lockhart, Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski
How to Be BadOh look, another road trip story! But this one is all about girl power, as Vicky, Mel and Jesse each have their own reasons to want to leave their small town for a while but after nearly getting eaten by a crocodile, end up with an unbreakable friendship. 

7 - 99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Molly just has to last the 99 days of summer until she can escape her home town and never see these people again, these people who judge her for breaking the golden boy's heart. So you get all the hot weather, the crisp air by the pool, the friends round for barbecue's, but you also get the fear, the bullying, the finally accepting blame and moving on. 

8 - Remix by Non Pratt
A music festival, sleeping-bag hopping, parties and booze, best friends and boyfriends, practically everything is covered in this great UKYA story.

9 - You Know Me So Well by David Levithan and Nina LaCour
When We CollidedFriendship can be found in very unlikely places, but meeting in a gay bar while dancing on the bar is definitely a strange one. When Mark and Kate meet, they encourage each other to get out of their comfort zones and be true to who they are. Short and sweet, ending with San Francisco's Pride Parade, definitely a great summer romp.

10 - When We Collided by Emery Lord
Quite heavy for a summer read but covers important topics really well, from grief to manic depression. Vivi and Jonah have a truly heart-breaking love story and one that will stay with you. 

Let me know what your favourite summer reads are, or if there are any books you are planning to read in the sun.

Friday 19 May 2017

Barefoot On The Wind by Zoe Marriott

Barefoot on the Wind (The Moonlit Lands, #2)There is a monster in the forest... 

Everyone in Hana's remote village on the mountain knows that straying too far into the woods is a death sentence. When Hana's father goes missing, she is the only one who dares try to save him. Taking up her hunting gear, she goes in search of the beast, determined to kill it - or be killed herself. 

But the forest contains more secrets, more magic and more darkness than Hana could ever have imagined. And the beast is not at all what she expects...

Hana lives with her family in a small village in the middle of a dangerous forest. Her family has lost more than most to the monster that hides in the dark but one night, her father returns from an attack, the first ever to do so. But he is injured and Hana is the only one brave enough to take on the monster in the forest. 

Hana is hurt on her hunt and taken in by a stranger but it seems that he knows more about this dark forest than he lets on. As Hana heals and they grow closer, the magic in the woods turns deadly. Marriott has said that this is a feminist retelling of Beauty and the Beast, written as if Beauty had the choice to stay in the forest rather than as part of a deal to save her father. I think it made a huge difference in the portrayal of bravery and their love story, as the Beast doesn't hold anything over Beauty's freedom. 

The whole story was such an interesting re-imagining of the classic tale, and with Marriott's lovely descriptions and skill for magical worlds, it practically burst off the page. Although short and sweet, I really enjoyed this Japanese-style fairy tale and was reminded of why Beauty and the Beast is my favourite story. 

Published 1st September 2016 by Walker Books.

Tuesday 16 May 2017

Great Book Mums

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Side note: while creating this list, I realised two things: one, there really isn't that many mums in YA books - even if they exist, they're not really there. Two: when they are there, they aren't always named. Or if they are, I can't remember them!

1 - The Upside of Unrequited
Actually both mum's to twins Molly and Cassie, and little brother Xander. They are crazy in love, demonstrate a great and healthy relationship as well as diversity and open-mindedness as they quietly fight for LGBT rights.

Wing Jones2 - Wing Jones
Along with both sets of grandmothers, Wing's mum works and looks after the house and family, holding things together after Marcus's accident. 

3 - The Next Together/The Last Beginning
I put these books on the list for Katherine but actually I want to mention Jen too because she and Tom actually raised Clove which Katherine and Matthew were stuck in time, or on the run or whatever it was they are doing.

4 - Did I Mention I Love You?
Again, I mentioning the mum and the step-mum to Eden, because as her dad is less than supportive (about everything, apparently) they both really step up and give Eden a shoulder to cry on and someone to lean on.

5- Vendetta
Vendetta (Blood for Blood, #1)Determined to protect Sophie from her father's family past, her mum is strong and brave in the face of danger. I mean, it's the mafia!

6 - Harry Potter and the... actually, all of them!
Mrs Weasley is bad ass and totally deserves a spot on this list, because not only she an amazing mother to her seven children but also to Harry and Hermione when they need it!

Wow, that was actually really hard to come up with! Apparently YA books are like fairytales in which most of the mothers have vanished. Or maybe teenagers are all about ditching the parents, that's probably more likely. 

Friday 12 May 2017

The Circus by Olivia Levez

The CircusWhy would a girl who has everything want to run away and never be found?

Willow has staged runaways ever since she was a little girl. She has everything a young person should want: a rich daddy, clothes, money, a pony and a place at a prestigious boarding school. In reality, she has everything except the thing she really wants: a father who cares enough to find her.

Aged sixteen, on the eve of her father’s wedding, she ruins the bride’s dress and escapes through a window, determined never to return. Her missing mother was a circus performer, and Willow wants to follow in her footsteps. But the performers she meets don’t want her. When her last bit of money is stolen by Suze, another runaway girl she thought she could trust, Willow becomes really homeless. Then Suze comes tumbling back into her life and a desperate Willow has to decide whether to trust her all over again . . .

So begins their frightening, exhilarating odyssey though hunger, performance, desperation and dreams. Will they both survive and will Willow make it to the circus of her imagining?

Willow is a tried-and-tested runaway but this time she isn't coming back. On the morning of her father's wedding, she cuts the buttons off her future step-mother's dress and runs away, hops on a train to Hastings. Willow desperately wants to find her mother, the woman in the sole photograph she owns of her, standing in front of a circus tent. From what her father is told her, Willow's mother was a beautiful acrobat and had to leave when Willow was a baby to re-join her troop.

In quite a similar vein to her debut The Island, Levez tells of a troubled young woman who just wants to find her family. Having been ignored by her father and not impressed with his parade of women, Willow wants to be reunited with her mother and the only lead she's got is a circus in Hastings so that's where she'll go. But living on the run isn't easy, even with her gap year savings. But she is taken under Suze's wing and together they train to get into the circus.

As it is told from Willow's perspective, it takes a while to realise that she actually has it pretty good. She is spoilt rotten, if sometimes ignored, by her dad, and as she struggles with living alone and her reasons behind running away in the first place, it becomes clear that she is selfish, attention-seeking and naïve. But on the other hand, all she wanted was to find a real family - what's so bad about that?

It was sometimes quite difficult to read - Willow sure was an idiot sometimes, so much so that I wanted to slap her, but also the real-life troubles she encounters, from homelessness to assault, made me queasy. As for the friendship with Suze, that did seem rather one-sided but in her own way (maybe when she remembered) Willow did care about Suze and didn't want to leave her behind like she had been before.

All in all, a sometimes-difficult but quite spectacular story about family and love; it might have taken a while but I think Willow learned something about empathy and how destructive her previous selfishness was.

Published 13th June 2017 by Oneworld Publications. Thank you to the publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday 9 May 2017

Top Ten Things I Want More Of In Books, Dammit!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

1 - Pirates - what's not to love about pirates? It can be any sort of pirate, good or bad, or with any kind of twist, like time travelling pirates in Passenger.

2 - Realistic first times - the thing with reading YA is that most teenagers are probably having sex but rarely is it discusses properly. I'm talking awkward fumbling, getting the giggles, and being confident enough to open yourself up to another person. One of the only books that handles this well is A Quiet Kind of Thunder and I want more of that!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1)3 - Space opera - stuff set in space that doesn't necessarily mean there's a space war - anything similar to The Long Way to A Small, Angry Planet.

4 - Fairy tales - I know there are plenty of re-tellings but I cannot find any original fairy tales. I'm thinking The Sin Eater's Daughter, because the way Salisbury blended magic and folklore was amazing.

5 - Nerds - there are nearly always nerds in books but more often than not, they are in the background or the sad kid getting bullied. I want more awesome nerds, like Cath in Fangirl or Lexi in Unconventional.

6 - Hate-to-love trope - I recently did a Top Ten of my favourite love stories with this trope but I'm always on the look out for more!
Am I Normal Yet? (The Spinster Club, #1)
7 - Mental health - this subject is finally getting the attention is deserves but I'm always looking for something different or a different angle on a familiar illness.

8 - Anti heroes - with their own story! It could be like Baz in Carry On or getting the villain's backstory like Levana in Fairest, but they are always fascinating characters.

9 - Dragons - either I missed the boat on this or there really are not many books on dragons! The one that I desperately want to get my hands on is A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan.

10 - Mythology - linked to fairy tales, I would like to read stories based on the unusual myths; everyone knows Hercules and Thor but what about the other heroes and gods, from all sorts of cultures? Books on those please!

Friday 5 May 2017

One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton

One Italian SummerIt's been a year since Milly, Elyse and Leonie's dad died, and a year since their last trip to Rome. Summer's here again, and once again they are heading with their mum to Italy - but what's it going to be like going without Dad? Rome still holds its familiar charms - the sun is still as warm, the gelato as delicious, the people as welcoming. But nothing is quite as it once was ... 

With grief still raw for all of them, Milly is facing the additional awfulness of having to see Luke again - gorgeous, gorgeous Luke, who she had a fling with last year, and who she made a total fool of herself with - or so she thinks. What's going to happen this time? What's more, things between Milly, her sisters and their mum are rocky - Leonie is being tempestuous and unpredictable, Elyse is caught up with her new boyfriend, and Milly feels like she just doesn't know how she fits in any more. 

Over one Italian summer, can Milly find a way back to the life she once had?

I adore Keris' writing style, it is always so easy to read and fall in love with. Her latest instalment follows Milly, the middle sister of three, as her family still struggle with the sudden death of her dad and the prospect of going to Italy for the first time without him.

Right from the off, it is evident that everyone has changed after their dad died, Milly in particular has retreated into herself. Their mum doesn't like to talk to them about it, Elyse the eldest is determined to pick up the pieces, and Leonie the youngest is getting more confident without Milly really noticing. It is strange how grief, especially long term, affects everyone differently but I think Keris did a wonderful job of sorting through everything and everyone's wavering emotions, especially in such a big family. 

So, they went to Italy for their aunt's wedding and they met up with their favourite cousin and his best friend aka Milly's crush. I thought this delicate balance between remembering their dad and having a nice holiday worked; I got the message about learning to get on with life, celebrate the good things, and how it's ok to start new things and move on without feeling guilty. Even a year after he died, their dad was clearly still around them and going to Italy, their regular holiday, meant that they could all remember him in a place that they loved and simultaneously get out of their holding pattern at home.

There was lots of really important and touching things about sisterhood, support and grief but also fun contemporary romance stuff about holidaying in Italy and growing up. Milly had lots of learn about finally confronting her fears and getting into a good place with Luke. All in all, a very sweet and moving story, equal parts funny and sad, cute and heavy. 

Published 4th May 2017 by Hot Key Books. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday 2 May 2017

Never Judge A Book By Its Face

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's theme is a freebie, anything to do with covers. And after some pondering, I decided on book covers with faces. Faces and eyes are quite common on covers, and I really like them, they can be damn dramatic. 

1 - And I Darken by Kiersten White - badass! Do I need to say anything else?

2 - Doing It by Hannah Witton - Hannah's said before how she likes how the banner looks like she's being censored and I agree

3 - Radio Silence by Alice Oseman - adore the colours and the blending effect

4 - Splintered by AG Howard - pretty and slightly mad, just like the original Alice in Wonderland

5 - Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol - I adore how the ghost makes up the lines in Anya's hair, and the differences in their expressions

6 - Trouble Makes A Comeback by Stephanie Tromly - I like this cover more than the first one, I think it's the bright glasses

7 - Seed by Lisa Heathfield - I think the flower covering her month is a subtle but strong link to the book's theme and Papa S's power

8 - Geek Girl by Holly Smale - nerdy glasses, unsure expression, doodles of math equations, yeah that's Geek Girl in a nutshell!

9 - Under My Skin by Juno Dawson - such a brilliant portrayal of the main character's tattoo

10 - Shut Out by Kody Keplinger - kind of childish font but I like the colours and the warpaint