Saturday, 31 January 2015

January review

January has been an awesome one for me on the book front. I've read lots of brilliant things which is fab.

Books Read
None of the above by IW. Gregorio (3 stars)
Stolen by Lucy Christopher (reread 4 stars)
Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales (4 stars)
Blackout by Connie Willis (3 stars)
All Clear by Connie Willis (3 stars)
The Bone Dragon by Alexia Casale (4 stars)
The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell (5 stars)
Othergirl by Nicole Burstein (5 stars)
We are all made of Molecules by Susin Nielsen (5 stars)
Arsenic for Tea by Robin Stevens (5 stars)
What if by Rebecca Donovan (3 stars)
Before I die by Jenny Downham (reread 5 stars)
Love, Lies and Lemon Pies by Katy Cannon (4 stars)
Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines by Katy Cannon (4 stars)
Seven days by Eve Ainsworth (4 stars)
An island of our own by Sally Nichols (4 stars)
The Sin eaters daughter by Melinda Salisbury (3 stars)
The Accident Season by Moria Fowley Doyle (3 stars)
Love Bomb by Jenny McLachlan (4 stars)
Conspiracy Girl by Sarah Alderson (4 stars)

Book of the month

For me it has to be Othergirl by Nicole Bustein (closely followed by Arsenic for Tea, We are all made of molecules and Last leaves falling). I will review it properly closer to publication but quite honestly I cannot say enough good things about it. I adored every page and cannot wait to read more by Nicole.

Events attended
I went to a blogger brunch at Scholastic towards the end of the month. It was a fabulous event and I got to meet debut authors Eve Ainsworth and Melinda Salisbury. (Thanks to those whose pictures I stole)

On the blog
I did a few reviews this monday on the blog. They were
The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
All the bright places by Jennifer Niven
Vendetta by Catherine Doyle
Captive by AJ Grainger
Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss
Juvie by Steve Watkins
Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

I did my monthly can't wait to read post  featuring Cleo by Lucy Coats, The Fill-in boyfriend by Kasie West, We are all made of molecules by Susin Nielsen, Liberty's Fire by Lydia Syson and For Holly by Tanya Byrne.

I also did a post about UKYA blogger community and the news that I had reached the longlist of the first UKYA bloggers awards.

On February's TBR pile
I have a few books ready to read this coming month
Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
There will be lies by Nick Lake
This is Shyness by Leanne Hall
 The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow place
The Apple Tart of Hope by Sarah Crossan
The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson
I have given up on my kindle entirely. I'm not enjoying it anymore so I'd rather wait for a physical copy of a review book or buy one than try and read it on my kindle and hate every second of it.

Friday, 30 January 2015

I was here by Gayle Forman

From the bestselling author of If I Stay - this summer's YA blockbuster film.

This characteristically powerful novel follows eighteen-year-old Cody Reynolds in the months following her best friend's shocking suicide.

As Cody numbly searches for answers as to why Meg took her own life, she begins a journey of self-discovery which takes her to a terrifying precipice, and forces her to question not only her relationship with the Meg she thought she knew, but her own understanding of life, love, death and forgiveness.

A phenomenally moving story, I Was Here explores the sadly all-too-familar issue of suicide and self-harm, addressing it in an authentic way with sensitivity and honesty.

Why didn't this book do it for me

Another book that didn't quite meet all the hype for me after being incredibly excited about it before I received it. I've loved Gayle's previous books and been left an emotional mess by the end of them. However for some reason this book just didn't do that for me this time like it was supposed it. It's set up like that with the subject matter revolving around teen suicide but looking back now I half feel the book was trying to manipulate that response from me and it left me wanting to not connect with it at all. I do find I don't ever have a huge lot of sympathy for teen suicide novels possibly because of the field I work in and possibly because I don't ever feel they are done all that welll whoever the author is. Whatever it is I've found I just don't like books that revolve around the aftermath of the death of someone close to the main character on the whole.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

Maybe everything that had happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It's possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.'

One Saturday morning the world wakes to discover that the rotation of the earth has begun to slow. As birds fall from the sky and days grow longer, people start to flee - but there is nowhere on earth to escape to.

Julia is already coping with the disasters of everyday life. And then there's Seth: tall and quiet and always on his own; the skateboarding boy who knows all about disaster. As the world faces a catastrophe, Julia and Seth are facing their very own unknown.

Why this didn't quite do it for me

I heard lots of wonderful things about this book. I was so excited when it turned up in the post at the start of December and picked it up immediately to read.

However something about this book just didn't do it for me. It took me four days to finish a reasonably small book which is never good sign and by the end of it all I bothered to write on goodreads about it was "Not sure I was all that impressed with this book sadly enough." I think it is really telling that just over a month after reading it I can tell you next to nothing about it.

For me I never found myself connecting with any of the characters and I didn't believe in the world setting all that much which meant I didn't get invested in it at all over the course of the book and by the time I finished it I wasn't all that fussed with the entire thing.  

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Juvie by Steve Watkins

Heart-wrenching and real, Juvie tells the story of two sisters grappling with accountability, sacrifice – and who will be there to help you after you take the fall. An unflinchingly honest, and ultimately hopeful, view of life in juvenile detention.

Heart-wrenching and real, Juvie offers an unflinching and poignant view of life in juvenile detention, and will appeal to fans of TV shows like Orange Is the New Black. Sadie Windas has always been the responsible one – she's the star player on her basketball team, she gets good grades, she dates a cute soccer player and she tries to help out at home. Not like her older sister, Carla, who leaves her three-year-old daughter, Lulu, with Aunt Sadie while she parties and gets high. But when both sisters are caught up in a drug deal – wrong place, wrong time – it falls to Sadie to confess to a crime she didn’t commit to keep Carla out of jail and Lulu out of foster care. Sadie is supposed to get off with a slap on the wrist, but somehow, impossibly, gets sentenced to six months in juvie. As life as Sadie knew it disappears beyond the stark bars of her cell, her anger – at her ex-boyfriend, at Carla and at herself – fills the empty space left behind. Can Sadie forgive Carla for getting her mixed up in this mess? Can Carla straighten herself out to make a better life for Lulu and for all of them? Can Sadie survive her time in juvie with her spirit intact?

I have mixed feelings about this book.

In some ways I loved it. I really liked the main character and I found the position she found herself in really fascinating. I found myself wanting to know more about her life and the decisions she had made to bring her to the position she currently was in. I loved how the story was told in flashbacks and enjoyed uncovering the story as I went along

However for me I wanted so much more. I felt very much like it was cut short and I was left with loads of questions about how things would turn out for the main character long term. I also wanted more from the other characters especially the sister who was being protected to see the impact having someone take the blame for her had and whether it was worth it.

All in all a nice read which I happily read and didn't want to put down but I wanted so much more

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

UKYA Book Blogger Love

I have been blogging for a good long while. Over the past years the UK blogging scene has grown and grown and become massive. As far as I'm concerned that can never be a bad thing because it means more and more people are talking about books. Yay for books.

I love the UKYA book bloggers in particular. It's nice to go to events and see the same people and I love that I now have a fabulous group of friends who I can chat with endlessly about books with either in person at said events or online. For me my lovely blogging friends like Sarah, Lyndsey, Carly, Michelle, Sammee Laura, Sophie, Raimy, Viv, Darren, Jesse, Andrew along with many many others make this crazy thing I do worthwhile on days when I feel overwhelmed with it all and if I had to give up blogging tomorrow I'd be OK with it as long as I kept them (don't worry I'm not going anywhere).

I still get so excited to see my reviews in print in bookshops. Indeed a favourite past time of mine is the "hunt the quote" game where I spend time in local bookshops looking for titles I am quoted in. Equally just as excited to see people I know quoted.

I get so incredibly excited to see people I've met through blogging get book deals. Liz, Non and Nicole are the ones who spring to mind (although I'll publish and think of others) and I am also so so excited for them and can't wait to share the love for their titles far and wide.

I love working with publicists and authors about their various titles and I get so so excited to be able to read a book months before it has come out. Signed books still make me squeal with delight. Seriously you want to impress me? Just send me a signed book (as a side note special mention has to go here to David Fickling Books and their extra extra special proofs ... you know how to make a girl feel loved!).

So last week at school I was having my usual busy day of doing stuff constantly and in the 5 minutes I got to myself at lunch my phone buzzed with a tweet to tell me I had made the longlist of the new UKYA blogger awards . I literally had no idea what to do with myself at this point. Not many people in my real life get blogging or my bookish ways and I ended up just hopping around like a crazy thing in my stock cupboard for a bit. I honestly never thought that I would ever end up on a lost like this and I am so honoured that people within the publishing world think highly enough of my crazed rambling to notice my blog let alone put me forward for something like this. I was equally so so so excited to see so many of my bookish friends on the list too because they are all just fabulous. I'm not really sure what the process is with the next stage. If I reach the shortlist I am probably going to end up back in that stock cupboard sobbing to myself a little bit. I'm not even going to consider beyond that yet because I can't even visualise it in my brain at the moment.

As well as the UKYA Blogger awards Faye from Bookish Brits is hosting her own awards for book bloggers here which you can vote on now.

My lovely friend Laura has written a post here about UKYA love (henceforth inspiring this little ramble) as has my equally lovely friend Carly here. Go Check them both out.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Can't wait to read

Another month and another load of books I cannot wait to read

Cleo by Lucy Coats

Her precious mother is dead - and it isn't an accident! The young Cleopatra - Pharaoh's illegitimate daughter - must flee the royal palace at Alexandria or die too. As her evil half-sisters usurp the throne, Cleo finds sanctuary at the sacred temple of Isis, where years later she becomes initiated into the secret Sisters of the Living Knot. But now Isis's power is failing, Egypt is in danger, and Cleo must prove her loyalty to her goddess by returning to the Alexandria she hates. She must seek out the hidden map which is the key to returning Isis's power - on pain of death. But will she be able to evade her horrible sisters? And will she find dreamy Khai, the über-hot Librarian boy she met as she fled Alexandria years before? Cleo's powerful destiny is about to unfold...

The history geek in me is super excited about this.

The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West

When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she'd been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend— two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it's not the real Bradley she's thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn't even know. But tracking him down doesn't mean they're done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend's graduation party — three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

I have loved Kasie's previous books and I cannot wait for this one.

We are Made of Molecules

Thirteen-year-old Stewart is academically brilliant but socially clueless.
Fourteen-year-old Ashley is the undisputed “It” girl in her class, but her grades stink.

Their worlds are about to collide when Stewart and his dad move in with Ashley and her mom. Stewart is trying to be 89.9 percent happy about it, but Ashley is 110 percent horrified. She already has to hide the real reason her dad moved out; “Spewart” could further threaten her position at the top of the social ladder.

They are complete opposites. And yet, they have one thing in common: they—like everyone else—are made of molecules.

I've heard so many good things about this book from so many people whose opinions about books I agree with so I can't wait for this book purely based on their recommendations.

Liberty's Fire by Lydia Syson

Paris, 1871. Four young people will rewrite their destinies. Paris is in revolt. After months of siege at the hands of the Prussians, a wind of change is blowing through the city, bringing with it murmurs of a new revolution. Alone and poverty-stricken, sixteen-year-old Zephyrine is quickly lured in by the ideals of the city's radical new government, and she finds herself swept away by its promises of freedom, hope, equality and rights for women. But she is about to fall in love for a second time, following a fateful encounter with a young violinist. Anatole's passion for his music is soon swiftly matched only by his passion for this fierce and magnificent girl. He comes to believe in Zephyrine's new politics - but his friends are not so sure. Opera-singer Marie and photographer Jules have desires of their own, and the harsh reality of life under the Commune is not quite as enticing for them as it seems to be for Anatole and Zephyrine. And when the violent reality of revolution comes crashing down at all their feet, can they face the danger together - or will they be forced to choose where their hearts really lie?

Another author whose books I love. I have found of late that there's not been a huge amount of decent historical fiction out there but Lydia always delivers something clever and thoughtful which is well researched. 

For Holly by Tanya Byrne

Lola Durand hates her stepmother. It's a cliché but it's true.

Lola Durand can't get through to her father. He never wants to talk about the things that matter: why they had to move to Paris, why he had to marry evil Agatha, and how they can get through the heartache of her mother's death together.

If he won't listen, she'll show him. She'll show him the truth about his new wife and then her life can go back to normal, just the way she likes it.

Lola Durand knows a secret about her stepmother. She's going to share it.

I love Tanya's books. They are a perfect example of what I adore about UKYA. I cannot wait to read this.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss

Grappling with grief is hard enough without repeat visits from the deceased. Pearl deals with death, life, and family in this haunting, humorous, and poignant debut.

The world can tip at any moment…a fact that fifteen-year-old Pearl is all too aware of when her mom dies after giving birth to her baby sister, Rose.

Rose, who looks exactly like a baby rat, all pink, wrinkled, and writhing. This little Rat has destroyed everything, even ruined the wonderful relationship that Pearl had with her stepfather, the Rat’s biological father.

Mom, though…Mom’s dead but she can’t seem to leave. She keeps visiting Pearl. Smoking, cursing, guiding.

Told across the year following her mother’s death, Pearl’s story is full of bittersweet humor and heartbreaking honesty about how you deal with grief that cuts you to the bone, as she tries not only to come to terms with losing her mother, but also the fact that her sister—The Rat—is a constant reminder of why her mom is no longer around.

Why this book is worth a look ... 

I received a copy of this book almost a year ago and didn't get very far with it at all. The print in the proof was particularly small and I must admit I got fed up with it but had always intended on picking it up again because I had heard so many good things about it. I finally got round to reading it over the Christmas holidays and was so glad I did

For me this book sums up what loss feels like. It looks at the story of a teenage girl who has just lost her mother and you follow her story as she comes to terms with it in the months that follows. What really got me was the way in which she transferred anger onto her new tiny sister and almost how she became so shut off from the rest of the world as a result of all those things she was feeling since losing her mother. For me it felt so real and I can see why it has had the rave reviews it has had.

A really sweet and heartbreaking read which packs a real emotional punch.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Captive by AJ Grainger

I open my eyes. The cell is flooded with sunlight; the window is a slice of pale blue. Dust particles dance in the sparkling light, pirouetting in a golden line from the window to the opposite wall of the cell, where they seem to converge into shapes. It is like looking into a kaleidoscope.

Dad isn't here. No one is, but me.
Robyn Knollys-Green is an A-list celebrity, famous for being the daughter of one of the world's most powerful men. But not even the paparazzi can find her now.

Robyn begins to realise that she is trapped in a complicated web of global corruption and deceit - and that the strange, melancholy boy who has been tasked with guarding her might not be an enemy after all . . .

Why you should check this book out ...

I must say I have been very excited about reading this book since it came onto my radar and I couldn't help but pick it up as soon as it dropped through my letter box and found myself finishing it within a matter of hours.

This is a perfect read for fans of Sophie McKenzie in that it feels similar in how it deals with the thriller aspect of the story. It is fast paced and exciting. It leaves you with lots to think about and makes you not want to put it down until you've finished it in its entirety. 

I really liked the main character Robyn and seeing her story unfold and I liked getting that different insight into the running of a country from someone living inside that bubble. It also really showed the vulnerability
that must be felt by those in charge on a daily basis where whatever they do they'll be criticised even when they what they are doing is for the best for the country as a whole.

All in all an exciting debut which has got me excited for more from the author.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Vendetta by Catherine Doyle

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

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

Why this book had potential ...
 For me Vendetta was an interesting read. I didn't love it but it certainly has potential as a series.

Vendetta is the story of Sophie, an ordinary girl who meets a gorgeous boy whose family has just moved in locally. Problem is there is more than meet the eye to these boys and the more that Sophie finds out about them the darker things become and the more she starts to find out about the hidden past of her own family.

I did like Sophie as a character. I loved that she worked part time. All too often in books the main teenage character just seems to have money thrown at them but not in this case. I want more of this in YA please.

I won't go into plot because whatever I say will spoil the book. I did enjoy the story overall and found myself getting into it more and more as the story went on. I did however find myself getting a little bored at the start and found it a bit too slow to get going.

All in all while it didn't blow me away I'd certainly be interested in following the story on further in the future and I am looking forward to things kicking off now the story has been set up.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

Why this book didn't quite hot the spot for me

This book was hugely hyped up in the prerelease buzz as being the next big thing but for me I don't feel like it did it enough for me to equal the high praise it was sold to me with. The press release for this book had the following quotes on it "The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park" and  "Perfect for fans of Jay Asher, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Gayle Forman, and Jenny Downham" which set the bar high to say the least. Compared to five massive authors from the outset? I know why this is done thinking cynically. I do get it. At the end of the day it a marketing tool. It must help to improve sales because it gives the potential reader a hook into a book they've heard nothing about but it is right? Had this book come to me without such comparisons would I have enjoyed it more? I'm inclined to think sometimes maybe it sets me up as a reader to expect certain things and when I don't get them I'm left disappointed. Whereas I sometimes think had I not had the comparsion maybe I would have just taken the title for what it was and been much happier at the end of it. It's hard to give a real answer to that question really but it is often one I think about for any title that is compared in such a way.

This book is particular I didn't dislike but I spent a lot of time wanting more, expecting more and I didn't know what it was that I felt was missing or even what I wanted from it but I very much was left at the end feeling a little underwhelmed. The characters were OK. Their story was OK if not a little forced but it was really only just OK for me. 

All in all the hype definitely ruined this book for me sadly.

Monday, 5 January 2015

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…

Why you should read this book.

Put simply this book is just wonderful and fully deserves all the hype that has surrounded it for months now. On every level. It tackles a sensitive topic in a kind and thoughtful way and puts a human face to a group of people within society who are regularly victims of prejudice and discrimination for just being themselves. Books like this one are needed to tackle such appalling attitudes and I for one think every school library should have multiple copies so that it becomes compulsory reading for all teenagers.

Not only is this book brilliant for tackling the issues in the way it does it also is spot on for the voice and the the storyline are spot on. From the first page I was hooked on the characters and needed to know what was going to happen to them. I was so invested by the end that I didn't want it to end and I've had a huge book hangover since I read this glorious read that no other book has come close to.

In short I adore this book. Its characters and storyline are expertly done which makes for a perfectly stunning debut novel that I can't stop recommending to any and everyone. I cannot wait to see what Lisa Williamson comes up with next.