Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Behind her eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Don’t trust this book. Don’t trust this story. Don’t trust yourself.David and Adele seem like the ideal pair. He's a successful psychiatrist, she is his picture-perfect wife who adores him. But why is he so controlling? And why is she keeping things hidden? As Louise, David's new secretary, is drawn into their world, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can't guess how wrong – and how far someone might go to protect their marriage's secrets.

I can't review this book and do it justice without spoiling it so just a few words from me today. This book is intense and had me on edge the entire time I was reading it. There's so many times throughout it where you find yourself questioning the characters and their actions and motives. It's a compulsive page turner and did not at all end how I expected. Highly recommended.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Blood by Blood series by Ryan Graudin

The action-packed, thrilling sequel to Ryan Graudin's Wolf by Wolf.

There would be blood.
Blood for blood.
Blood to pay.
An entire world of it.

For the resistance in 1950s Germany, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun. Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost. But dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all: how far can you go for the ones you love? This gripping, thought-provoking sequel to Wolf by Wolf will grab readers by the throat with its cinematic writing, fast-paced action, and relentless twists.

I really enjoyed the previous book in the series but I must admit I struggled with this. I think my dislike for fictional Nazis kicked in and it made me not like it all that much which is odd because I dealt with book one fine. I did a history degree where my specialist subject was Nazi Germany so I can get really picky and I suspect it was very much the case of it being me rather than the book sadly. Maybe had I read it straight after book one I might have been better for me.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

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've been eagerly awaiting this book for a long while I am a pleased to say it was an awesome read. I loved the character of Wing. She is dealing with a whole host of rubbish things that have been thrown her way and trying to become her own person whilst doing that. I loved the sporting element to this book especially seeing the impact it had on Wing as a character and how it helped her grow into the person she wanted to be rather than the one she was before. I love that she did that for herself rather than relying on others. I enjoyed how diverse this book was and seeing how Wing balances the clash of culture she lives with dealing with expectations of Chinese and African heritage and growing up in America and how often that leaves her feeling like she doesn't quite fit in anywhere.. I also loved that she represents a normal working class family and you can clearly see the impact financial struggles have on the family. All so often YA protagonists seem to live in a dream world where money is no object and it means they can do anything which just isn't realistic for most families. A fantastic debut from an author I can't wait to read more from.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Wing Jones Photo Tour

Wing Jones is the much anticipated debut novel from Katherine Webber, publishing 5th January 2017 in the UK. With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing 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… 

Katherine Webber was born in Southern California but has lived in Atlanta, Hawaii, Hong Kong and now in London. For several years she worked at the reading charity BookTrust, where she worked on projects such as The Letterbox Club which delivers parcels of books to children in care, and YALC, the Young Adult Literature Convention. You can find her on Twitter @kwebberwrites
Throughout January, over 40 bloggers will be participating in the #WJphototour – a photo blog tour documenting Katherine’s path to publishing her debut novel. From childhood memories that inspired her writing to her time living in Atlanta and Asia that influenced the book to authors she’s met over the years right up to receiving her first finished copy of the book, follow along to see Katherine’s author life unfold! Keep an eye on the hashtag to see the latest photos!

Photo #22

Even though I didn’t have lots of bookish friends in Hong Kong, that didn’t stop me from unleashing my inner fangirl whenever I had the chance! I dressed up as Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone in Prague when I was there on a business trip, as Daenerys Mother of Dragons at the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, and as Paige from the Bone Season just for fun to celebrate the launch of the book. It was my way of feeling like I was connected to the book world.

Buy your copy of Wing Jones
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2iIe030
Waterstones: http://bit.ly/2hReLqQ
Hive: http://bit.ly/2iaLZxx

Friday, 13 January 2017

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora's brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway, the land of the midnight sun, determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home.

I enjoyed Flora Banks on the whole. It's one of those books which is hard to review without spoiling because of the nature of the story. The main character is such an unreliable narrator and and the story keeps you guessing all the way through. It is quite slow in places but I found that those bits made much more sense once you got to the end of the book. If you enjoy a thriller or a story with lots of twists you enjoy this.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

Steffi doesn't talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can't hear, but he can listen.
Their love isn't a lightning strike, it's the rumbling roll of thunder.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life - she's been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He's deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she's assigned to look after him. To Rhys, it doesn't matter that Steffi doesn't talk, and as they find ways to communicate, Steffi finds that she does have a voice, and that she's falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it. From the bestselling author of Beautiful Broken Things comes a love story about the times when a whisper is as good as a shout.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder  was one of my favourite reads of 2016. I was lucky enough to get an early copy which I devoured back in October. It is a perfect example of everything I love about UKYA.

For me the main appeal of this book is the love story between the main characters Steffi and Rhys. It's a quietly sweet love story which captures that first experience of falling in love. You can't help but fall in love with their story because it is so sweet. I also liked how the book looks at a disabled character looking at Rhys who is deaf and how he goes about his normal day to day life being under estimated by those around him. Equally the look at Steffi's mutism was really interesting again particularly seeing how she is under estimated by those around her how the impact that her anxiety has on her day to day life. I also loved the depiction of female best friends within the book. Tem, Steffi's best friend, if a brilliant character and I loved the relationship between the two.

All in all a book I adored and highly recommend.

You'll love this book if you liked
Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Monday, 9 January 2017

Review: The X-Files The Teen Years

I am a huge x-files fan having devoured and adored the tv series multiple times. Just before Christmas I was very excited to be offered for review the books that cover the teen years of Mulder and Scully.

How did Fox Mulder become a believer? How did Dana Scully become a skeptic? The X-Files Origins has the answers.

The X-Files Origins: Agent of Chaos explores the teen years of Fox Mulder, the beloved character depicted in the cult-favorite TV show The X-Files. His story is set in the spring of 1979, when serial murder, the occult, and government conspiracy were highlighted in the news. The book will follow Mulder as he experiences life-changing events that set him on the path to becoming an FBI agent.

The X-Files Origins: Devil's Advocate will explore the teen years of Dana Scully, the beloved character depicted in the cult-favorite TV show The X-Files. Her story is set in the spring of 1979, when serial murder, the occult, and government conspiracy were highlighted in the news. The book will follow Scully as she experiences life-changing events that set her on the path to becoming an FBI agent.

As I stated above I am a huge x-files fan and I was equal part skeptical and excited about reading these books and on the whole I was reasonably pleased with what I read in these books. They do capture the spirit of the TV series for me getting the essence of both Mulder and Scully right so they feel right as a prequel to the series. I would gladly read more of these following both Mulder and Scully right through until they become the agents we meet in the first x-files series.

Mulder's book Agent of Chaos I devoured in one sitting. I adore Mulder and also have done and this book captures a young Mulder brilliant. It gets his quirks and he does exactly the sort of things I could imagine a teenage Mulder doing. The story is creepy as well as being a mystery and keeps you guessing all the way through.

Scully's story was also awesome. I must admit the main storyline focuses around the ideas of angels and angels are a thing that I just don't like in films or novels so from the outset I was less keen and mostly just kept with it because it was an x-files story. However it does work and makes sense both within the story but also as a story which works with Scully and everything we know about her from the TV series.

The main thought I had about these books is who are they for? They are definitely YA books aimed at Young Adults but how many of those young adults will be familiar with the x-files enough to want to seek them out to read them considering the original x files series hasn't been on TV since the early 2000s? (yes I know the recent reboot was on last year but again I suspect those who watched were those who watched it the first time around). Don't get me wrong they could happily be read as stand alone novels if you haven't watched the series but I don't know anyone would pick stories about characters from a long standing TV series if they hadn't watched any. Equally on the other hand I suspect most x-files fans are now firmly not Young Adults and therefore less likely to pick up YA novels (yes I know they are missing out). Therefore I just don't really get who these both are for because I imagine YA reading x-files fans are quite a niche market.

Friday, 6 January 2017

The White Tower Blog Tour: Guest Post by author Cathryn Constable

Sound track to The White Tower

 Photo Credit: Beth Evans

I’d like to say that when I am writing, I listened to Faure, or maybe a bit of Saint-Saens… But the truth is that I don’t listen to Classical music at all. I find it too distracting.
I have to have headphone on and a playlist to get through before I start to write, but what I’m listening to is really ‘noise’ to block out the concept of any world other than the one I am writing about. Oddly, this has led to quite a weird selection of dance music or… and this was a surprise to me… K-pop. But anything is good which gets you out of your own thoughts and into some new place.

1          Stigma, BTS
It’s probably shameful to be quite so old and listen to quite so much K-pop, but I think if you grew up listening to Duran Duran, K-pop isn’t quite so much of a stretch. I feel slightly guilty not picking a track by SHINee, because those boys are K-pop majesty (Taemin is the best dancer in K-pop, Onew has the most beautiful voice, and all five of them make me smile) but BTS have had some amazing songs. My daughter loves them (especially Jimin) and I suppose there aren’t many bands that can have the prints on their jackets explained away as being an homage to Hermann Hesse’s novel, Demian. Yes, it’s pure confectionary, but who says no to a big box of chocolates?

2          The City, Madeon
I listened to this a lot when I wrote the first chapter of The White Tower. I do love a bit of dance music because it keeps the fingers (if not the feet) moving. Any time it comes on, I feel I am sitting on the bus with Livy, my main character, drifting down the Holloway Road. 

3          Teenage Fantasy, Cherokee
Just love this for the bass line. 

4          Kitsune Compilations (various).
There’s a shop in Paris called Maison Kitsune that I went to with my eldest son when he was doing French A-Level. The fashion is sort of preppy normcore meets Parisian hipster (I mean, you’re not going to offend anyone wearing their clothes). I bought him a T-shirt. The guys who set up the label also do music compilations and find lots of new artists (again, nothing very offensive, but quite smart and dance-y). They’re all good. 

5          Get it right, Aretha Franklin
It’s a banger.

 Follow the rest of The White Tower tour

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Looking forward to in 2017

I love the start of the new year and the prospect of the brand new books which are going to be available in the coming months. These are some of the books I can't wait to read this coming year.

The Pant's Project by Cat Clarke

"My name is Liv (Not Olivia)... I'm not technically a girl.

I'm Transgender. Which is a bit like being a transformer. Only not quite as cool as cool because I probably won't get to save the world one day."

A Transformer is a robot in disguise. Liv is a boy in disguise. It's that simple. Liv knows he was always meant to be a boy, but with his new school's terrible dress code, he can't even wear pants. Only skirts.

Operation: Pants Project begins! The only way for Live to get what he wants is to go after it himself. But to Liv, this isn't just a mission to change the policy- it's a mission to change his life. And that's a pretty big deal

I love Cat's books and I am very interested to read this. 

Coming up for air by Miranda Kenneally

Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic try out, so she feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to lose to win?

I love this series because they are all standalone companions all set in the same world and usually they have a sporty theme. I'm not hugely sporty but I like that these books exist for girls who are sporty because sports don't need to be something just for boys.

The House of Secrets by Sarra Manning

Every home has a story to tell . . .

An ordinary house on an ordinary street, built in 1936 and never lived in. Its rooms might be empty, but this house is full of secrets. When Zoe and Win, raw and reeling from a recent tragedy, move into their new home it's meant to be a fresh start and a way to mend the holes in their relationship. But pushed to the back of a cupboard is a suitcase that's been gathering dust for eighty years. Inside is a wedding dress, letters and a diary all belonging to a woman called Libby. And there's something else in the suitcase, something that echoes Zoe's own pain. Zoe follows Libby's trail from Paris to Spain on the brink of Civil War to secret trysts in London, and as Libby finds the courage to live and love again, Zoe begins to let go of her own grief. But when Libby's story takes a darker turn, Zoe becomes increasingly obsessed with discovering what really happened all those years ago. Because if Libby managed to get her happy ever after then maybe Zoe and Win can too . . 

I love everything Sarra has written. I need this book.

Always and Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han 

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You. Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding. But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind. When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

I love this series and already have the hardback preordered.

The Mystery of the painted dragon by Katherine Woodfine

A fast-paced historical mystery adventure for readers aged 9+, with gorgeous Edwardian period detail. Perfect for fans of Chris Riddell's Goth Girl series, Enid Blyton and Robin Stevens's Murder Most Unladylike series. When a priceless painting is stolen, our dauntless heroines Sophie and Lil find themselves faced with forgery, trickery and deceit on all sides! Be amazed as the brave duo pit their wits against this perilous puzzle! Marvel at their cunning plan to unmask the villain and prove themselves detectives to be reckoned with – no matter what dangers lie ahead . . . It’s their most perilous adventure yet!

Another series I adore. I love the time period it is set in and I love the mystery element to each book

Margot and Me by Juno Dawson

Sometimes love has to cross all kinds of barriers . . .Fliss is on the way to visit her grandmother in Wales - the grandmother who she doesn't get on with - with her mother who is recuperating from chemotherapy. But her mum is getting better, that's the main thing, so Fliss can concentrate on being grouchy and not looking forward to meeting her grandmother Margot, who is so cold and always so unforgiving of Fliss's every mistake . . . But when the six months is up, Fliss consoles herself, she and her mum will go back to London and back to Real Life! In the meantime Fliss needs to get used to her new school, not upset the scary girls, and just keep her head down (whilst still making sure that everybody knows she is from London, of course). Then Fliss discovers a diary at the back of her bookcase. It is from the 1940s and is set in World War II, and, Fliss realises, is actually Margot's diary from when she was a young woman during the Blitz. Intrigued, Fliss begins to read. There she discovers a whole new side to Margot, a wartime romance and also Margot's deepest, most buried secret. And it is then that Fliss discovers something terrible in her own life that she is going to have to come to terms with...

Juno is one of my favourite authors and I love historical fiction so I'm looking forward to reading this book.

Silver Stars by Michael Grant

Sequel to Front Lines, the epic new young adult series by the author of GONE set in an alternate World War II. Summer 1943. The enemy has been bloodied, but Nazi Germany is very far from beaten. Now the American army is moving on to their next target: the Italian island of Sicily. With heavy memories of combat, the three young soldier girls – Rio, Frangie and Rainy – now know what they are willing to do to save themselves, and understand the consequences of those actions. On the front lines, they will again come face to face with the brutality of war until they win or die, while simultaneously fighting their own personal battles. No one will emerge unscathed.

I very much enjoyed the previous book in this series and I cannot wait for this. I love how the series focused on how awesome and strong girls can be.

Forever Geek by Holly Smale

My name is Harriet Manners and I’ll be a geek forever… Harriet Manners knows almost every fact there is. Modelling isn’t a sure-fire route to popularity. Neither is making endless lists. The people you love don’t expect you to transform into someone else. Statistically, you are more likely to not meet your Australian ex-boyfriend in Australia than bump into him there. So on the trip of a lifetime Down Under Harriet’s to-do lists are gone and it’s Nat’s time to shine! Yet with nearly-not-quite-boyfriend Jasper back home, Harriet’s completely unprepared to see supermodel ex Nick. Is the fashion world about to turn ugly for GEEK GIRL? It’s time for Harriet to face the future. Time to work out where her heart lies. To learn how to let go…

Another series I love. I'll be sad to see the end of Harriet's story though. 

All about Mia by Lisa Williamson

From no. 1 Bestselling YA author Lisa Williamson, comes another insightful and unputdownable teen drama - All About Mia. A brilliant look into the mind of a teenager stuck in the middle.

Another author whose previous book I adored. I cannot wait for this. 

Take Two by Perdita and Honor Cargill

Elektra has finally landed a part in a film. It's the dream. Well ...until she works out that Straker is a movie so dystopian that within weeks most of the cast and all of the crew wish that the world had actually ended (preferably in scene one). And while it's obviously great news that she's moved from the friend-zone with Archie to become his almost-girlfriend, it would be better if he hadn't immediately relocated to Transylvania to play a vampire hunter surrounded by 'maidens of peerless beauty'

Yet another series I adore. I'm looking forward to catching up with the characters again after loving book one. 

Unconventional by Maggie Hardcourt

Lexi Angelo is a Convention Kid - she's got a clipboard and a walkie talkie to prove it. Aidan Green is a messy-haired, annoyingly arrogant author and he's disrupting her perfect planning. In a flurry of awkward encounters, lost schedules and late-night conversations, Lexi discovers that some things can't be planned... Things like falling in love.

I very much enjoyed Maggie's previous book and I cannot wait to read this as I've heard nothing but awesome things about it.