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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.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Review: The Walled City - Ryan Graudin

The Walled City by Ryan Graudin, published by Indigo on 6th November 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key to his freedom, he needs help from someone with the power to be invisible....

JIN hides under the radar, afraid the wild street gangs will discover her biggest secret: Jin passes as a boy to stay safe. Still, every chance she gets, she searches for her lost sister....

MEI YEE has been trapped in a brothel for the past two years, dreaming of getting out while watching the girls who try fail one by one. She's about to give up, when one day she sees an unexpected face at her window.....

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.  I hadn't heard much about it before it fell into my hands and I wasn't sure which genre it fit into but I loved the fusion of historical fiction and fantasy.  This was mixed with a thrilling plot which takes the reader on an amazing journey featuring brilliant characters who fight against the odds to achieve freedom and independence.  It's always wonderful when you find a book which you know little about but ends up surpassing your expectations!

The story is inspired by the Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong which is a world of extreme lawlessness.  Danger lurks around every corner and if you don't have your wits about you and your instincts for survival honed then you won't last.  I am a big fan of stories which take place in Asia as I find the culture absolutely fascinating, so this was right up my alley.

There are three distinct character viewpoints in the book: Jin Ling, who is searching for her sister; Dai, who is on a dangerous mission and Mei Yee, who is trapped in a world not of her choosing.  Each chapter alternates between them until their individual situations begin to collide and come together.  It would spoil it to tell you much about the plot as this is a book which is best read with little prior knowledge of what it is about.  Needless to say though you won't be disappointed and at times you will literally be on the edge of your seat. 

I loved the epilogue which tied everything together properly and which left me beautifully satisfied with the outcome.    

I thought that Ryan Graudin's debut was a thoroughly enjoyable and engrossing read.  Her writing is gloriously atmospheric and I was intrigued and captivated by the characters, their relationships and their journeys.  I'm excited to see what subject she decides to write about next. 

Monday, 1 December 2014

Review: Cursed - Jennifer L. Armentrout

Cursed by Jennifer L. Armentrout, published by Hodder on 17th July 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
After a fatal car accident, her gifted little sister brought her back. Now anything Ember touches dies. And that, well, really blows.

Ember operates on a no-touch policy with all living things--including boys. When Hayden Cromwell shows up, quoting Oscar Wilde and claiming her curse is a gift, she thinks he's a crazed cutie. But when he tells her he can help control it, she's more than interested. There's just one catch: Ember has to trust Hayden's adopted father, a man she's sure has sinister reasons for collecting children whose abilities even weird her out. However, she's willing to do anything to hold her sister's hand again. And hell, she'd also like to be able to kiss Hayden. Who wouldn't?

But when Ember learns the accident that turned her into a freak may not've been an accident at all, she's not sure who to trust. Someone wanted her dead, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she is to losing not only her heart, but her life.

I'm obsessed with Jennifer L. Armentrout's Lux series and I've recently become addicted to her Covenant books too.  This is one of my main reasons for seeking out this standalone title which sounded fantastic.  I really want to read everything that Armentrout's written because her stories are beyond brilliant.  Sadly, 'Cursed' didn't live up to my passion for Kat and Daemon which is a shame because I was so looking forward to reading it. 

The main character Ember has been changed since the accident in which her father was killed.  She's now unable to touch anything without it dying.  While she believes she's cursed, her younger sister Olivia is able to bring things back to life. 

I thought that Ember was a great character because she came across as totally selfless.  She always puts her little sister first, even though Olivia is frankly, quite a brat at times.  She's held her family together all on her own and has had to shoulder a lot of responsibility which means that she has had to grow up fast.  There is a love interest in the form of the handsome Hayden, but as Ember can't touch anyone properly it was a very slow building romance.   

The plot itself was okay but didn't wow me.  There were a couple of unexpected twists and turns but it didn't consume my every thought like I thought it would and I could easily put this down without obsessing endlessly over what was going to happen next.  I found some elements of the story pretty predictable too and although the second half of the book was better than the first, I was left feeling like I wanted more. 

I'm such a big fan of Jennifer L. Armentrout's books that I'm going to pass this one off as just not for me and move onto some of her other titles.  I'm sure this is only a minor blip on my reading radar. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Review: Waterfall - Lauren Kate

Waterfall by Lauren Kate, published by Doubleday on 6th November 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Eureka's tears have flooded the earth and now Atlantis is rising, along with its evil king, Atlas. Eureka is the only one who can stop him – but first she must learn how to fight.

She travels across the ocean with Ander to try and make sense of the dark world her sorrow has created. But dark secrets are hidden in the depths – will she be strong enough to defeat Atlas, or is her broken heart just what he needs to power his rising kingdom?

Eureka has the chance to save the world. But she'll have to give up on everything – even love . .

This is the second book in the series following last year's opening instalment 'Teardrop'.  I have to say that I didn't enjoy this one as much as the first book.  I got quite confused about what was going on, particularly in the second half of the story and I found the pace very slow.  I put this one down and picked it up again several times before I actually managed to finish the whole thing.  I am disappointed because I was so looking forward to reading it and had such high hopes about it that I felt very flat by the time I got to the final page. 

Eureka has caused the earth to flood and now has to deal with the consequences.  People have died, those closest to her are in danger and her love for Anders and best friend Brooks lies in the balance.  As Atlantis begins to rise and the evil Atlas threatens everything she holds dear, Eureka begins to discover some difficult truths about her past and future. 

I thought that at times, Eureka seemed like a very different character in 'Waterfall'.  She's been through so much and learnt so much about herself and I understand that this would change a person but I didn't always recognise the person that she ended up becoming.  She was tougher but her human side was less evident.  I also didn't feel the romance between Eureka and Anders this time around, even though I thought this was going to be developed in a really positive way.  The bond between them is still strong but I didn't believe in it quite as much, so I wasn't as connected with them as a couple.

I do think that Lauren Kate writes beautifully and I always adore the mythological aspects of her stories.  I enjoyed finding out more about the Seedbearers and the world of Atlantis but this wasn't enough to keep my attention firmly rooted on the characters' struggles. 

I will be continuing with this series because I think that Lauren Kate may still knock it out of the park with a killer conclusion.     

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Review: Searching for Perfect - Jennifer Probst

Searching For Perfect by Jennifer Probst, published by  Pocket Books on 29th April 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
A coach, consultant, and cheerleader rolled into one super-sizzling package, Kennedy creates dream dates, encourages singles to shine, and never refuses a challenge; not even Nathan Ellison Raymond Dunkle, known as Ned, rocket scientist, nerd extraordinaire, and Kennedy's newest client.

Kennedy vows to work her magic and transform this hot mess in a lab coat with a disastrous relationship track record into the most wanted man on the Verily dating scene. If only she could turn the wand on herself . . . Though she radiates confidence and sex appeal, Kennedy harbors deep-seated insecurities from a tormented past and lifelong struggle with weight issues. When she realizes she and Ned are cut from the same cloth and might be perfect together, can Kennedy learn to let her heart lead the way? Or will her fears sentence her to the sidelines as Ned finds love with someone else?

Jennifer Probst is one of my favourite new authors and this series is on my auto-buy list.  I loved the previous book 'Searching for Someday' and I had high expectations for this follow-up which I'm extremely happy to say was just as wonderful. 

This time it's the turn of Kennedy to find her happy ever after, although she has a lot of personal issues and insecurities to overcome first.  Kennedy is the makeover queen and when she meets Ned, hopeless in love and desperately needing a change of image, she determines that he will be her new project.  But as she begins to transform his outward appearance, she finds herself beginning to fall in love with the all-new Ned. 

Kennedy or Ken, as she's known, has rebuilt her life, after being bullied mercilessly as a teenager because of her weight.  She is now a successful career woman, co-owning a matchmaking business with her two good friends, but when it comes to love she still has a lot to learn.  I liked Ken because she isn't perfect, she has her flaws just like everyone else but she works day by day to overcome the insecurity she feels about her body.  She has worked hard to become who she is today and I admired that.  I enjoyed watching Ken make over Ned, who she renames Nate and turn him into one hot scientist.  Although he's not confident socially with women, he wants to learn and he wants to find his perfect lady.  His willingness to do whatever it takes to improve his image and become more outgoing with women was extremely endearing. 

I wanted Ken and Nate to be together from the beginning.  They have the same interests and they've both experienced being put down by other people which makes them more understanding of each other.

'Searching for Perfect' was a brilliant read.  Sweet, sexy and romantic, I never wanted it to end.  I'm dying to read the next in the series now, 'Searching for Beautiful' which focuses on Wolfe and Genevieve.          

Monday, 17 November 2014

News: Choose Kind campaign

From November 17th – 21st it is Anti-Bullying Week in the UK and Penguin Random House has partnered with the Anti-Bullying Alliance to launch a nationwide anti-bullying campaign inspired by the internationally bestselling novel 'Wonder' by R J Palacio.
You can read my review of 'Wonder' here
The Choose Kind campaign was launched earlier this year and so far over 700 schools in the UK have signed up to take part. Random House are encouraging teachers and pupils to read Wonder, promote kindness in their schools and show them how they did this during Anti-Bullying Week this November. The Anti-Bullying Alliance found that nearly a quarter of 5-18 year olds have been bullied at school and 45% of parents state that they are concerned about their child being bullied.
This isn’t just a campaign for schools, 'Wonder' should inspire all people to be a little bit kinder to each other.
There is more info about the campaign here

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Review: Half Blood - Jennifer L. Armentrout

Half Blood by Jennifer L. Armentrout, published by Hodder on 14th August 2014 

Goodreads synopsis:
The Hematoi descend from the unions of gods and mortals, and the children of two Hematoi - pure-bloods - have godlike powers. Children of Hematoi and mortals - well, not so much. Half-bloods only have two options: become trained Sentinels who hunt and kill daimons or become servants in the homes of the pures.

Seventeen-year-old Alexandria would rather risk her life fighting than waste it scrubbing toilets, but she may end up slumming it anyway. There are several rules that students at the Covenant must follow. Alex has problems with them all, but especially rule #1: Relationships between pures and halfs are forbidden.

Unfortunately, she's crushing hard on the totally hot pure-blood Aiden. But falling for Aiden isn't her biggest problem - staying alive long enough to graduate the Covenant and become a Sentinel is. If she fails in her duty, she faces a future worse than death or slavery: being turned into a daimon, and being hunted by Aiden. And that would kind of suck.

I'm extremely late joining the party for Jennifer L. Armentrout's Covenant series but I'm going to be catching-up now...and quickly!  I loved this book and I'm desperate to read more because I have a feeling that this is a series where each instalment will keep getting better and better.

The story was awesome and so exciting.  Alex's mother is gone and Alex is back at the Covenant, being trained to become a Sentinel.  When surprising revelations are revealed about her family, her past and her future, everything is about to change. 

The romance in this book is off the charts.  Alex is a half-blood being trained to fight by Aiden, an incredibly hot pure blood.  They can never be together but that doesn't stop the air from crackling with tension when they are in the same room or from Alex feeling an undeniable attraction to Aiden which she just can't deny.  I could hardly stand the will they, won't they suspense which is drawn out throughout the book.  I have such a crush on Aiden now!   

Daimons, forbidden romance and dangerous secrets, 'Half-Blood' ticked all the boxes for me and was a sensational read.  It was a brilliant introduction to the series which I'm going to be buying now so that I can read them all over the Christmas holidays.  What a treat! 

This edition of the book, also includes the prequel novella 'Daimon' which was a really nice addition and provided more insight into the characters' world.      

Monday, 10 November 2014

Review: Grim - Christine Johnson

Grim edited by Christine Johnson, published by Mira Ink on 25th February 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Inspired by classic fairy tales, but with a dark and sinister twist, Grim contains short stories from some of the best voices in young adult literature today.

I saw this book in my local library and it caught my eye immediately because it was such a beautiful edition.  It's a hardback in black with bright pink markings and writing on the front and back.  I just had to pick it up!  I then ran my eye down the list of included authors and saw some of my favourite writers so I really wanted to read it then.  I'm not normally a fan of short stories, as I always find that I'm left wanting more, but I really enjoyed nearly all of these wonderful tales - some quirky, some dark but all unique and entertaining.

All of the stories in the book are fairy tale inspired but they each have a dark and sinister twist.  It was interesting to see how each author subverted these traditional tales and turned them into something altogether different.

I had some absolute favourites in the book and these were The Raven Princess by Jon Skovron, The Pink by Amanda Hocking, Figment by Jeri Smith-Ready and The Key by Rachel Hawkins.  I would definitely want to go back and read these again.  I had fun as well trying to work out which tales they were all based on.  Some were easier than others to figure out.

Other authors included within the collection are: Sarah Rees Brennan, Christine Johnson, Claudia Gray, Malinda Lo, Jackson Pearce, Kimberly Derting, Ellen Hopkins, Julie Kagawa, Myra McEntire, Shaun David Hutchinson, Saundra Mitchell, Sonia Gensler and Tessa Gratton.  There were a couple of names that I wasn't quite as familiar with but I will be seeking out more of their work now.  For example, I liked Saundra Mitchell's 'Thinner Than Water but I haven't read anything else by her.  That's all about to change!

This would make the perfect book to give or receive as a Christmas present.  The stories are lovely to dip in and out of and if, like me, you love fairy tales but are looking for a modern twist on the classics, then 'Grim' is the book for you.   
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