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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.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Review: Angel Dares - Joss Stirling

Angel Dares by Joss Stirling, published by Oxford University Press on 1st October 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
Angel is impulsive. Disguising her savant ability to control water doesn't come easily to her. Then she meets the broodingly handsome Marcus at a music festival where they're both performing, and finds herself all at sea. For when he sings, her soul answers with its own music. Like the tide, their mutual attraction cannot be held back, but Marcus's mistrust of Angel's gift is even stronger. How can they ever be together if Marcus is unable to accept who Angel is or what they could mean to each other? And with the net closing in on the Savant community it's time for everyone to choose a side.

Joss Stirling's SoulFinder series is one of my favourites.  I love the whole idea of the Savant community and the fact that all these couples are destined to be together but have to find each other first. 

'Angel Dares' was another terrific addition to the series.  The main character Angel, meets Marcus, a fellow musician at a festival and is drawn to him through their music.  He is originally distrustful of her gift and refuses to believe in the savant community which makes their relationship extremely difficult.  Angel however, is such a positive person that she won't be deterred and tries to get him to change his mind, with often mixed results I might add.

I have to say that as much as I love this series, I am a little disappointed that the direction of the stories has shifted away from the Benedict brothers and instead has focussed on some of the younger characters.  I would have loved to have seen the whole book based around Will and his personal search for his soulfinder but this was relegated to being nothing more than a sub-plot.  I realise that some of the brothers are slightly older, so I can only imagine that they were deemed too old to be the central focus of a young-adult series.  All the same, I miss seeing them at the heart of the story. 
There were glimpses of them in the book though which did keep me very happy.   

I thought the plot was good, especially the inclusion of the threat which hangs over the heads of the savants.  This led to a really dramatic conclusion which was both exciting and gripping. 

Hopefully the next book in the series will be about Victor Benedict who has always been one of my favourites.  I'm hoping that he will eventually be lucky in love! 

Monday, 5 October 2015

Review: Edgewater - Courtney Sheinmel

Edgewater by Courtney Sheinmel, published by Amulet Books on 21st September 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
Lorrie Hollander used to be a rich girl who spent her money on boarding school and equestrian camp. But that was before. It’s been twelve years since Lorrie’s mother skipped town and left Lorrie and her sister in the care of her unstable aunt Gigi. Together they live in a decaying mansion called Edgewater, the eyesore in a town of extraordinary wealth and privilege.

While Lorrie is desperately trying to keep her family from collapse, she meets Charlie, the son of an esteemed senator. Terrified that he will learn the truth about her, she holds him at a distance. But Charlie’s family is hiding something, too. And Lorrie could never have imagined how their secrets, and their lives, are inextricably bound.

I found this book very slow.  I got about half-way through and then realised that nothing had really happened yet.  Although I've seen some great reviews for this title and it did sound promising beforehand, I have come to the conclusion that it just wasn't for me. 

The story is about a teenager called Lorrie, who used to live a life of privilege and riches before her family end up losing all their money.  Abandoned by her mother, Lorrie and her sister live with their Aunt Gigi in their now crumbling family home, Edgewater.  Lorrie is desperate to hide their downfall from her friends and especially handsome Charlie, the son of a senator. However, secrets long buried, begin to rise to the surface and it's only so long before everyone begins to find out the truth. 

The blurb of this book made it sound so good and I really wanted to like 'Edgewater' but in my opinion, it needed more drive and impetus.  It was so slow that I found it hard to stay engaged with the story and I didn't particularly care about any of the characters.  The most interesting character in the book was actually the crumbling Edgewater itself which has been left to sit and decay.  Most of the first half was centred around Lorrie reiterating her money problems but I wanted and needed something else to happen and I was left feeling disappointed with this title. 

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Chasers of the Light: Poems From The Typewriter Series - Tyler Knott Gregson

Chasers of the Light: Poems From The Typewriter Series by Tyler Knott Gregson, published by Penguin on 8th October 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
One day, while browsing an antique store in Helena, Montana, photographer Tyler Knott Gregson stumbled upon a vintage Remington typewriter for sale. Standing up and using a page from a broken book he was buying for $2, he typed a poem without thinking, without planning, and without the ability to revise anything.

He fell in love.

Three years and almost one thousand poems later, Tyler is now known as the creator of the Typewriter Series: a striking collection of poems typed onto found scraps of paper or created via blackout method. Chasers of the Light features some of his most insightful and beautifully worded pieces of work—poems that illuminate grand gestures and small glimpses, poems that celebrate the beauty of a life spent chasing the light.

This review is short but heartfelt.  Read this book.  Buy this book.  Share this book with a friend.  If you want to have your heartstrings tugged and your emotions scattered all over the place, then read these beautiful poems.  Typewritten on scraps of paper and interspersed with Tyler Knott Gregson's own photography, this collection of poetry has been woven into a gem of a book.  I have been dipping in and out of it ever since I first picked it up and my copy is now stuffed with scraps of people, marking all of my favourite poems.  I will be reading these over and over again because they are just beautiful and they speak to me in a way that leaves me feeling like someone has just looked into my soul.      

Monday, 28 September 2015

Review: Tempting the Best Man - Jennifer L. Armentrout

Tempting the Best Man by Jennifer L. Armentrout, published by Hodder on 13th August 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
Madison Daniels has worshipped her brother's best friend since they were kids. Everyone thinks she and Chase Gamble would make the perfect couple, but there are two major flaws in their logic. 1) Chase has sworn off relationships of any kind, and 2) after blurring the line between friends and lovers for one night four years ago, they can't stop bickering.

Forced together for her brother's wedding getaway, Chase and Madison decide to call a truce for the happy couple. Except all bets are off when they're forced to shack up in a tacky 70’s honeymoon suite and survive a multitude of "accidents" as the family tries to prove their "spark" can be used than for more than fighting. That is, if they don't strangle each other first…

'Tempting the Best Man' is the first book in the Gamble Brothers series, featuring the utterly irresistible Chase Gamble.  You have been warned ladies!

I knew I wanted to read this book as soon as I heard about it, even though it is an adult, rather than a YA title.  Jennifer L. Armentrout is one of my absolute favourite authors and having her write an adult romance with a sexy hero, definitely ticked all my boxes.  The romance scenes were actually a little tamer than I was expecting, although things did get pretty steamy at times. 

The heroine of the story, Madison, has loved Chase ever since they were little.  Having grown-up together, she has seen his good side and his bad (not that there is very much bad about him!) and she loves him still.  If only she can made him see her as something other than his best friend's little sister.  At her brother's wedding she gets the perfect opportunity to show him the new grown-up Madison, although there are plenty of obstacles in her path.

I enjoyed every single second of reading this story and the only negative thing I have to say about it, is that it was far too short.  I wanted it to go on and on.  It was so fab!  Jennifer L. Armentrout writes such fantastic romances with couples who you absolutely fall in love with.  I was rooting for Madison and Chase from the start and I enjoyed seeing the dynamics of their relationship change as they spent more time in each others company.

Next in the series is 'Tempting the Player' which features Chase's brother, Chad Gamble.  I need to get my hands on it asap.       

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Review: Monster - C.J. Skuse

Monster by C.J. Skuse, published by Mira Ink on 24th September 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
At sixteen Nash thought that the fight to become Head Girl of prestigious boarding school Bathory would be the biggest battle she’d face. Until her brother’s disappearance leads to Nash being trapped at the school over Christmas with Bathory’s assorted misfits. As a blizzard rages outside, strange things are afoot in the school’s hallways, and legends of the mysterious Beast of Bathory – a big cat rumoured to room the moors outside the school – run wild. Yet when the girls’ Matron goes missing it’s clear that something altogether darker is to blame – and that they’ll have to stick together if they hope to survive.

This book blew me away!  I started it on a two hour train journey and became so engrossed that all I wanted to do was stay on the train, travel home for another two hours and finish it.  Like it's aptly named title, it crept up on me slowly, enveloping me in a cloud of intrigue and suspense.  I felt like my heart was stuttering along with the frayed nerves of the main characters, as foreboding wrapped itself around me.  After the first few chapters, I thought that this was going to be a pretty good book and then suddenly it turned into dynamite in my hands.  No one could have shaken me from the spell I was under.

Now I'm telling myself that I must be mad not to have read anything by C.J. Skuse before.  Have I been living under a rock?!  I have a burning need now to go and buy all of her other books and have a mini-marathon.

I should have known from the tagline 'Malory Towers meets I Know What You Did Last Summer' that I was going to fall hook, line and sinker for this story.  The book suggests that there is a monster living inside all of us - although with some it is let out by choice and with others by necessity.  I am also a sucker for stories set in boarding schools and Skuse presents such an appealing view of this one (monsters aside).  Bathory School for Girls is set in a picturesque location.  There are wonderfully long summer days with trips outside, games and swimming.  There are Hogwarts style houses and secret hidey holes.  It also has it's very own legend stalking the grounds - the Beast of Bathory. 

The main character Natasha, or Nash as she is known, hopes to become Head Girl.  She and a small group of others are left behind at the school for Christmas.  Nash's parents are unable to come for her because her older brother is missing abroad.  A blizzard means that they are trapped at the school, but although they can't leave, something or someone wants to get in. 

Tense, nail-biting and with one hell of a twist, 'Monster' was my kind of book.  It had an ending that left me wide-eyed and open-mouthed and was deliciously dark and scary.  The suspense kept being ramped up and up until I almost couldn't bear to find out what was going to happen next.  A book hasn't left me on the edge of my seat like that for a long, long, time.  Sheer brilliance and one of the best YA thrillers I've ever read.  Don't hesitate to grab yourself a copy of 'Monster'.  You won't regret it. 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Review: Daughters Unto Devils - Amy Lukavics

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics, published by Simon and Schuster on 8th October 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
Sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner fears she is losing her mind. When her family move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, Amanda hopes she can leave her haunting memories behind: of her sickly Ma giving birth to a terribly afflicted baby; of the cabin fever that claimed Amanda's sanity; of the boy who she has been meeting in secret...

But the Verners arrive on the prairie to find their new home soaked in blood. So much blood. And Amanda has heard stories - about men becoming unhinged and killing their families, about the land being tainted by wickedness. With guilty secrets weighing down on her, Amanda can't be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or within her soul...

I will read just about anything and everything but I'll admit that I'm not normally a big fan of the horror genre.  I think it's partly because I have such an overactive imagination that horror is often too much for me to stomach.  However, I wouldn't say that 'Daughters Unto Devils' is out and out horror - or at least not until the very end, when yes, you will need to ensure that every light in the house is on.  Or better yet, read it in broad daylight and not just before bed.  You will most definitely regret it otherwise.

Sixteen year old Amanda and her family live in a small cabin in the mountains.  Cooped up with her siblings and parents, during a long and tough winter, Amanda none the less has a secret of her own -  a boy she has been meeting without their knowledge.  When the family uproot and move to the prairie, it is a fresh start for Amanda, but something is out there and evil lurks everywhere. 

The tension ramps up from the very beginning of the book.  I knew something terrible was going to happen but I didn't know what and I didn't know when.  That was enough to keep me on the edge of my seat throughout.  The evil when it came, crept under my skin.  There is one scene in particular which totally crept me out.  I wanted to look away but I was glued to the page with horror.  You'll know the moment when you get to it. 

Amy Lukavics's debut novel is a great read, which I've seen described as Little House on the Prairie meets The Crucible.  This is the perfect spooky Halloween read, although if you are of a nervous disposition then beware.  This book is not for the faint hearted!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Review: Black Cairn Point - Claire McFall

Black Cairn Point by Claire McFall, published by Hot Key Books on 6th August 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
Heather agrees to a group camping holiday with Dougie and his friends because she's desperate to get closer to him. But when the two of them disturb a pagan burial site above the beach, she becomes certain that they have woken a malevolent spirit. Something is alive out there in the pitch-black dark, and it is planning to wreak deadly revenge.

One year later Heather knows that she was very lucky to escape Black Cairn Point but she is still waiting for Dougie to wake from his coma. If he doesn't, how will she prove her sanity, and her innocence?

This was a super creepy read with one hell of a twist at the end.  Just when I thought that the story was about myths and pagan legends, it turned out to be something else entirely.  I loved the fact that it kept me on my toes and challenged my perceptions.  I really want to read it again now because it will be like seeing the characters and their actions in a whole new light.

Heather, along with her best friend Emma, Emma's boyfriend Darren and their friends Dougie and Martin, head off together on a camping trip.  The story alternates between the events that transpired during their excursion and current day Heather, one year on and still seemingly recovering from her experience.  She tells of an evil spirit that seems intent on wreaking havoc on their small group but the question is, will anyone believe her?

It is not often that I can be completely surprised by a book, but Claire McFall definitely managed that.  'Black Cairn Point' was creepy, chilling and wonderfully thrilling and I enjoyed every second of the story.  Normally I like to race through to get to the big finale, but I took my time reading this book and enjoyed savouring every bump in the teens' journey.  I was most definitely on the side of Heather throughout the story, as she tries to convince her Doctor that she is not crazy and she was not responsible for what happened to her friends.  I really sympathised with her and I liked her as a main character, which made the ending even more brilliant. 

A highly recommended read and I will be looking out for more by Claire McFall in the future.
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