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I'm a librarian based in the UK who loves books. I'm happiest when I'm either talking about them, reading them or buying them. This blog is devoted to my addiction to YA fiction.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Review: Slave to Sensation - Nalini Singh

Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh, published by Gollancz in 2010

Goodreads synopsis:
In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of "rehabilitation" - the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was...

Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy coexistence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion - and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities - or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation.

'Slave to Sensation' is the first book in the Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh.  I have wanted to read this series for such a long time.  I first saw it highly recommended by another blogger, but as I always have such a towering TBR pile, it's taken me this long to get around to giving it a try.  I'm a massive Christine Feehan fan, so I thought that it would probably be quite similar to some of her books.  There were certain aspects which definitely reminded me of Feehan's writing and plots. 

There are two different groups in the book - the Psy and the Changelings.  Sascha is a Psy - people who cannot feel emotion and have certain psychic powers and controls.  What is apparent about Sascha from the very start, is that she is different.  She experiences and feels things that she shouldn't feel and this alone is enough to place her in grave danger.  She was an interesting character and I enjoyed finding about more about how the Psy live. 

Her opposite in the book is Lucas, a Changeling.  He can change into a panther and is determined to find the Psy who is responsible for killing his packmates.  He was hot, hot, hot!  He recognises something in Sascha from the start and their developing relationship was one of my favourite aspects of the story. 

I love paranormal romances and this one came laced with an edge of danger and suspense which kept me glued to the pages.  I was really impressed with this opening instalment to the series and I'm dying to read the rest of Nalini Singh's books now.  If it's as good as this one then I'm going to be in for a real treat!  


Monday, 27 June 2016

Review: Unrivalled - Alyson Noel

Unrivalled by Alyson Noel, published by Mira Ink on 10th May 2016

Goodreads synopsis:
Everyone wants to be someone. Layla Harrison wants to be a reporter. Aster Amirpour wants to be an actress. Tommy Phillips wants to be a guitar hero. But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her own a long time ago. She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.

That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and are lured into a competition. The prize, or rather the target? Madison Brooks.
Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing. . . . And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.

This was quite a different change of pace to Alyson Noel's previous books that were much more on the spiritual/paranormal side of things.  'Unrivalled' is a contemporary YA about a group of young adults vying for the same huge cash prize by promoting a series of nightclubs.  Each have their own reasons for taking part and wanting to win.  They get points based on how successful their night club is and each of them tries to get Hollywood IT girl, Madison Brooks, to grace their club.  That is the sure fire way to score some big points. 

The story actually starts one month prior to the rest of the plot. Madison Brooks goes missing but who the mystery surrounds who is responsible for her disappearance.  The rest of the book unfolds with the three main characters Tommy, Aster and Layla, each becoming untangled with the seemingly glamorous but ultimately seedy, Hollywood night club scene.  I have to say that I wasn't particularly a fan of any of the characters.  They all seemed pretty shallow and certainly not that likable.  I didn't care an awful lot about who won the competition and the Madison Brooks element of the plot was intriguing but not enough to keep me engrossed in the story.

I'm sad to say that I just don't think this title was very good.  Although it was compared to Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl it was a poor imitation of both of those series and isn't one that I'm invested in enough to want to continue reading.    

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Review: Soldier - Julie Kagawa

Soldier by Julie Kagawa, published by Mira Ink on 5th May 2016

Goodreads synopsis:
When forced to choose between safety with the dragon organization Talon and being hunted forever as an outcast, Ember Hill chose to stand with Riley and his band of rogue dragons rather than become an assassin for Talon. She’s lost any contact with her twin brother, Dante, a Talon devotee, as well as Garret, the former-enemy soldier who challenged her beliefs about her human side.

As Ember and Riley hide and regroup to fight another day, Garret journeys alone to the United Kingdom, birthplace of the ancient and secret Order of St. George, to spy on his former brothers and uncover deadly and shocking secrets that will shake the foundations of dragons and dragonslayers alike and place them all in imminent danger as Talon’s new order rises.

'Soldier' is the third book in the Talon saga.  I really enjoy this series and I continually marvel that Julie Kagawa seems to be able to turn her hand to any subject she fancies and turn it into an amazing story. The first two books in this series were beyond fantastic, so I had high hopes about this one.

Once again we get different insights from multiple characters,  Ember, Riley, Garret and Dante all narrate various chapters throughout the book.  Ember is still torn between her dragon and human sides, Riley is desperate to convince Ember that she belongs with him, Garret is searching for the truth, wherever it may take him and Dante is involved in a terrifying Talon experiment which spells danger for them all.  A lot more is revealed about Talon and the Order of St George in the book, which I enjoyed finding out about.   

Julie Kagawa most certainly isn't afraid to make difficult choices with her characters or place them in all manner of dangerous situations.  One of these left me absolutely stunned, although looking back at it now, I can see why she made the decision and how this will allow other characters to get their own resolutions.   

Fast-paced action throughout kept me turning the pages well into the night.  This is definitely a title you will want to read in one sitting.  The story was thrilling and exciting and crammed full of tense, nail-biting moments and explosive revelations.  There is one almighty big secret revealed at the very end which will have you in despair at having to wait for the next instalment of the series. 

I am so anxious to find out what will happen next that I just can't bear it.  Here's hoping that the wait for book four, 'Legion' won't be a long one. 


Monday, 20 June 2016

Review: London Belongs To Us - Sarra Manning

London Belongs To Us by Sarra Manning, published by Hot Key Books on 2nd June 2016

Goodreads synopsis:
Seventeen-year-old Sunny's always been a little bit of a pushover. But when she's sent a picture of her boyfriend kissing another girl, she knows she's got to act. What follows is a mad, twelve-hour dash around London - starting at 8pm in Crystal Palace (so far away from civilisation you can't even get the Tube there) then sweeping through Camden, Shoreditch, Soho, Kensington, Notting Hill . . . and ending up at 8am in Alexandra Palace.

Along the way Sunny meets a whole host of characters she never dreamed she'd have anything in common with - least of all the devilishly handsome (and somewhat vain) French 'twins' (they're really cousins) Jean Luc and Vic. But as this love-letter to London shows, a city is only a sum of its parts, and really it's the people living there who make up its life and soul. And, as Sunny discovers, everyone - from friends, apparent-enemies, famous bands and even rickshaw drivers - is willing to help a girl on a mission to get her romantic retribution.

I thought I would enjoy this title a lot as I've really liked all of Sarra Manning's previous books.  Unfortunately it just didn't grab my attention and it seemed too much like other stories I've read before.  Maybe I wasn't in the mood for contemporary YA when I picked it up, but for me, it was more of a miss than a hit.

The main character Sunny spends most of the book, which takes place throughout the course of one night, on the hunt for her runaway, potentially cheater, boyfriend.  Her travels take her to numerous well-known areas of London, including Mayfair, Soho and Camden (Ahh Camden, I know it well).  What frustrated me was that I wanted to shout at her not to bother, to forget all about Mark and go home instead, rather than traipse all over London for someone that she shouldn't waste her time on.  On the other hand, I did enjoy being reminded about how diverse and varied London is and how much the City has to offer.  It's one of my favourite places to visit so it was fun to see some of the areas I haven't been to before. 

The ending was a bit too clichéd for my tastes and I felt that it didn't really offer anything new to the reader.  It's such a shame because the book sounded good and I thought it would be great fun, but in the end it fell flat for me and was a struggle to finish.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Review: V For Violet by Alison Rattle

V For Violet by Alison Rattle, published by Hot Key Books in April 2016

Goodreads synopsis:
Battersea, 1961. London is just beginning to enter the swinging sixties. The world is changing - but not for sixteen-year-old Violet. She was born at the exact moment Winston Churchill announced Victory in Europe - an auspicious start, but now she's just stuck in her family's fish and chip shop dreaming of greatness. And it doesn't look like fame and fortune are going to come calling anytime soon. Then she meets Beau. Beau's a rocker - a motorcycle boy who arrives in an explosion of passion and rebellion. He blows up Violet's grey little life, and she can't believe her luck. But things don't go her way for long. Joseph, her long-lost brother, comes home. Then young girls start going missing, and turning up murdered. And then Violet's best friend disappears too. Suddenly life is horrifyingly much more interesting.

‘V For Violet’ by Alison Rattle is set in the 1960’s. I’ve been trying to think and I don’t think I’ve actually read anything set in the sixties before. It’s not my favourite period but it was an interesting choice and worked well not only with the overall themes of the book but also in terms of showing what post-war society was like for a lot of teenagers. I’m doubtful that the historical setting will appeal to all readers however.  

The main character Violet has finished school and is working in her parents fish and chip shop. She’s afraid of being left behind by her best friend who has a job in a factory, new friends and a fella on her arm. When Violet meets the dangerous and exciting Beau, she discovers the possibility of a romance of her own. However, she also has family problems to deal with when her long presumed dead brother returns, at the same time that girls from the area start turning up dead. I really liked Violet and I could identify with some of the feelings she had at the start about finding her place and the worry she has about what’s coming next. Having left school behind, the real world is opening up to her and that can be scary. She grows a lot as a character throughout the story and I think even surprises herself by the end. 

Unfortunately the overall book was a bit hit and miss for me. There were parts I liked and thought were well done and there were other aspects of the story that felt a bit rushed. It seemed like Alison Rattle was trying to work a lot of different threads into the story and not all of them were given enough attention. The mystery element of the book was probably my favourite part but I was disappointed with the outcome. I don’t want to spoil anything about the plot but I thought this could have had much more impact if a different direction had been taken in terms of the murderer. The romance between Violet and Beau was okay but I didn’t feel any real sparks between them and Beau came across as a bit one-dimensional at times. The storyline with Violet’s brother could have been quite powerful but again, I think this wasn’t given enough attention until near the end of the book and by then I didn’t feel invested enough in the conclusion.

What I do like about Alison Rattle’s books is that they are all so different and she doesn’t restrict herself to one particular time-frame, setting of theme. You never know what to expect from her stories. Although this wasn’t a huge hit with me, I have enjoyed her writing in the past, so I'll put this title to one side and will look forward to whatever she has in store for readers next.     

Monday, 16 May 2016

Review: Chasing the Stars - Malorie Blackman

Chasing the Stars by Malorie Blackman, published by Doubleday on 21st April 2016

Goodreads synopsis:
Olivia and her twin brother Aidan are heading alone back to Earth following the virus that wiped out the rest of their crew, and their family, in its entirety.

Nathan is part of a community heading in the opposite direction. But on their journey, Nathan’s ship is attacked and most of the community killed. Only a few survive.

Their lives unexpectedly collided, Nathan and Olivia are instantly attracted to each other, deeply, head-over-heels – like nothing they have ever experienced.

But not everyone is pleased. Surrounded by rumours, deception, even murder, is it possible to live out a happy ever after . . . ?  

I wanted to like this book.  I thought that I would like it.  It sounded right up my alley with a plot which is based on Shakespeare's Othello but set in space.  How awesome does that sound?!  I usually love books that are a spin on a Shakespeare play but this one didn't do it for me at all.  There was too much sci-fi, I thought that the dialogue was quite wooden and clunky and I didn't find the relationships between the characters very believable, especially the insta-love between Vee and Nathan.

The story seemed to take an age to really get going and as this is quite a big book, I toyed with the idea of giving up on it and moving onto something else.  However, I'm always hopeful that things will pick up and improve and I like to give every book a fair chance, so I carried on until the end.  But I just didn't enjoy it at all.  I do have a rocky relationship with Malorie Blackman's writing.  Some of her books I've thoroughly enjoyed and others have been more of a struggle to finish.  Sadly, 'Chasing the Stars' just wasn't for me, although I will still be looking out for other Shakespeare spin-offs in the future.   

Friday, 13 May 2016

Review: A Court of Mist and Fury - Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas, published by Bloomsbury on 3rd May 2016 

Goodreads synopsis:
Feyre survived Amarantha's clutches to return to the Spring Court - but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can't forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms - and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future - and the future of a world cleaved in two.

‘A Court of Mist and Fury’ far exceeded all of my expectations. It literally blew my mind! From the second I picked it up and started reading, I was hooked. Nothing else existed but the world and the characters that Sarah J. Maas had created. I was torn between racing through the book in one feverish sprint and taking my time to savour each chapter and make it last as long as possible. In the end, I opted for the latter, although I had to use a lot of restraint not to stay up all night until I had got to the last page.

I honestly now find myself waiting for the release of a new Sarah J. Maas book with a sense of anticipation that can only be matched with waiting for Christmas Day to arrive. She is one of my absolute favourite authors and always on my auto-buy list.

This second instalment in the series, picks up the story with Feyre having been reunited with Tamlin and now back in the Spring Court. Although she and Tamlin are finally back together, she is struggling to cope with her experiences Under the Mountain. She is a different Feyre to the one we are used to. Her spirit has been extinguished and she is now compliant and yielding, unable to assert herself and bowing to the commands of others. It was interesting to see how she had been changed and how, although she was free from Amarantha’s grip, she still wasn’t free in the real sense of the word. Tamlin is determined to protect her against all costs but his iron grip on her, only serves to remind her of the imprisonment she previously suffered. I wasn’t really sure which direction Maas was going to take the story but I knew that it was going to include Rhysand and boy, did it! He turned out to be an integral part of the book and quickly became one of my favourite characters. I will admit that in ‘A Court of Roses and Thorns’, I wasn’t too sure about him. I saw him as a rival to Tamlin who I loved and some of his actions in the last book were slightly questionable. This time around, the reader really gets to know Rhys and what makes him who he is. He has had to shoulder a lot on his own and yet he has managed not to be broken in the process. He has his own demons to bear, but his mind is strong. I loved the fact that he treats Feyre like her own person and not someone to be kept safe in a box. He challenges her and pushes her and ultimately I feel that he makes her into a better version of herself. I don’t want to say too much about Rhys and Tamlin, for fear of giving anything away, but I do just want to say that all of my feelings about them were turned on their head and I ended up with very different emotions about them than when I started the book.

There are some fantastic secondary characters that are introduced into the series too. Rhys’s inner circle were all interesting and unique figures. I really liked Mor and Cassian swiftly became a firm favourite too. Sarah J Maas’s characterisations are always spot on and the characters in this book are no exception. She writes them in such a way that they come alive from the page and allow you to really connect with them and experience everything alongside them.

The plot is typically brilliant with enough pulse-pounding moments to keep you well and truly on the edge of your seat. There is action and danger and suspense and a good pace to the story with some lighter moments of relief to balance out the story. There isn’t as much romance as in the previous book, but that’s okay because what we get instead is a slow burning flame which grows steadily stronger as the story progresses. You won’t be disappointed.

I can’t heap enough praise on ‘A Court of Mist and Fury’. It is a stunning read and I enjoyed every second of it. I was shocked and stunned by the ending and I don’t know how I’ll be able to bear the wait until the next installment. I need it NOW!

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