About Me

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United Kingdom
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 dedicated mainly to my addiction to YA fiction but you will also find some adult and non-fiction book reviews as well.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Review: Girls Can't Hit - T.S Easton


Girls Can't Hit by T.S Easton, published by Hot Key Books on 20th April 2017


Goodreads synopsis:
Fleur Waters never takes anything seriously - until she turns up at her local boxing club one day, just to prove a point. She's the only girl there, and the warm-up alone is exhausting . . . but the workout gives her an escape from home and school, and when she lands her first uppercut on a punching bag she feels a rare glow of satisfaction. So she goes back the next week, determined to improve.

Fleur's overprotective mum can't abide the idea of her entering a boxing ring, why won't she join her pilates class instead? Her friends don't get it either and even her boyfriend, 'Prince' George, seems concerned by her growing muscles and appetite - but it's Fleur's body, Fleur's life, so she digs her heels in and carries on with her training. When she finally makes it into the ring, her friends and family show their support and Fleur realises that sometimes in life it's better to drop your guard and take a wild swing!






Review:
‘Girls Can’t Hit’ is the third book I’ve read by T.S Easton and I think my favourite one yet. The story centres around a teenager called Fleur who gets bitten by the boxing bug and soon finds herself itching to get inside the ring.

I found that the story started quite slowly and initially I wasn’t sure if it was going to be my kind of book. The first few chapters focused on Fleur and her friends Pip and Blossom who all live in a small village near to the site of the Battle of Hastings. They spend their Saturdays dressed as Saxon peasants, talking to tourists about the Battle and the history of the site. Although the start was slow, what really got me hooked was when Fleur discovers a local boxing club. What starts initially as a protest against the division between men and women’s’ only boxing nights, turns into a real passion for Fleur.

I loved seeing how Fleur channels all of her time and energy into her new hobby. She starts cycling with her Dad, she lifts weights, she trains hard and she eats like she’s never eaten before! Although I’ve never boxed, I do run and I know the discipline it takes to train and get yourself into physical shape. Fleur’s newfound love of boxing isn’t embraced by everyone though and she finds herself at odds with her Mum and at times her friends, over the amount of time she is spending on it.

There is an underlying message about feminism and equal rights in the book, but personally, what really struck a chord with me, was how boxing makes Fleur more confident and ultimately improves her relationships with those close to her. She has a fractious relationship with her Mum which takes a different turn near the end of the story, her Dad loves getting to spend time with her on their bikes and her friends gradually begin to see a new side of her. There’s also Tarik, a handsome boxer at the club, who definitely catches Fleur’s eye.

This turned out to be a brilliantly entertaining read which at times made me laugh out loud. I’d love a follow-up book all about what happens to Fleur next.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Review: The Struggle - Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Struggle by Jennifer L. Armentrout, published by Hodder on 23rd March 2017 

Goodreads synopsis:
The war against the Titans continues, but now the most dangerous, most absolute power lies elsewhere... with Seth.

The Great War fought by the few is coming...
All may doubt and fear what Seth has become. All except Josie, the woman who might be his final chance at redemption.

In the end, the sun will fall...

The only way Seth and Josie can save the future and save themselves is by facing the unknown together. It will take more than trust and faith. It will take love and the kind of strength not easily broken. No matter what, their lives will never be the same.

For what the gods have feared has come to pass. The end of the old is here and the beginning of the new has been ushered in...




Review:
‘The Struggle’ is the third book in Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Titans series and personally I think it may be the best one yet. The action picks up straight after the events of the previous book and we see Seth leaving Josie behind to protect her from what he has become. I’ll admit that I did struggle a little bit at the very beginning to recollect exactly what had happened but it didn’t take long before I had all of the threads of the story straight and from then on I was well and truly sucked back in.  

I have to say that I just love Jennifer’s writing. Her dialogue is always spot on, making me want to laugh and then cry in the space of a heartbeat. She writes amazing characters that come alive on the page and which you instantly want to root for. Also, don’t get me started on the romance. No one can write an intimate scene better than her. The relationship between Seth and Josie is at the heart of the book and it’s tough to see what they both have to endure along the way before they can get anywhere near a happy ending. Josie is determined to find Seth no matter the cost but she has to pay a heavy price and Seth too begins to learn more about who he is and what he is capable of. Both characters are big favourites of mine and it’s been interesting to see them change and grow so much throughout the series. 

The ending consisted of a jaw-dropping cliff-hanger. I’m not sure how I’m going to possibly last before I can get my hands on the next book. The wait is going to be endless.  

There was plenty of action and excitement in ‘The Struggle’ and it kept me gripped the entire time. I practically inhaled it and finished it in one evening. If you haven’t yet discovered this series then you really need to give it a try. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. It had everything and more that I look for in a book and it was an incredible read.     

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Review: Scorched - Joss Stirling

Scorched by Joss Stirling, published by Oxford University Press on 6th April 2017


Goodreads synopsis:
Ember Lord is facing charges for the murder of her father. She was found at the scene of the crime, holding the murder weapon, and refuses to explain herself.

Joe Masters is tasked with getting under Ember's skin, and breaking through her stony facade; to gain her trust and find out what her plans are now her father's legally-questionable business is under her control.

But as the two get closer, Joe begins to break down the wall that Ember has built around herself, and gets a glimpse of the truth behind. Is he really falling for a cold-hearted killer? Or is there more to the murder than meets the eye?



Review:
‘Scorched’ is the final book in Joss Stirling’s Young Detectives series. It revolves around Joe, who was introduced in earlier instalments of the series and the mysterious Ember Lord, who at the beginning of the book is being held on suspicion of her father’s murder. The story places Ember in the middle of a terrible situation. She struggles to recollect the events of that night and how she came to be standing over her father’s dead body. She is initially not sure of her own innocence and has only one desire – to protect her twin brother Max.


In the training centre where she is being held pending trial, Joe and co. are charged with finding out what she knows about her father’s shady business dealings. Before they do that though, they have to get close to Ember and gain her trust. Hence the staging of a Shakespeare play, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, giving Joe the opportunity to get close to Ember without raising her suspicions. I loved the scenes where they are staging the play because it gives Ember a chance to show her true character. She has had to hide who she is to protect herself from her father and his associates but through the words of Shakespeare she begins to open up and we see what kind of person she really is.  

I thought it was interesting to see Joe having so many doubts too about his suitability to be part of the Young Detectives Agency. He is still trying to recover from the events of the first book in the series and his confidence has been knocked terribly. While he is attempting to help Ember open up, she unknowingly, begins to help him see what he is capable of.    

I loved seeing all of the other couples in the story too: Kieron and Raven, Nathan and Kate and Damien and Rose. It reminded me of all the great adventures they’ve had together and what they’ve had to endure to come out stronger on the other side.

‘Scorched’ was a worthy finale to the series but it was sad to say goodbye to so many well loved characters. I can’t wait to see what Joss Stirling is going to write next. I will definitely be along for the ride!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Review: The Pavee and the Buffer Girl - Siobhan Dowd

The Pavee and the Buffer Girl by Siobhan Dowd on 2nd March 2017 by The Bucket List



Goodreads synopsis:
Jim and his family have halted by Dundray and the education people have been round mouthing the law. In school the Traveller kids suffer at the hands of teachers and other pupils alike, called 'tinker-stinkers', 'dirty gyps' and worse. Then the punches start. The only friendly face is Kit, a settled girl who takes Jim under her wing and teaches him to read in the great cathedral chamber of the cave below the town. With Kit and the reading, Jim seems to have found a way to exist in Dundray, but everyday prejudice and a shocking act of violence see his life uprooted once again.







Review:
This graphic novel was a quick read but at the same time I found it to be very touching.  The story is illustrated beautifully by Emma Shoard in an extremely unique style which helps to bring life to Siobhan Dowd's words.  Apparently this was originally published as part of an anthology which I would be interested to read.

The story is about a traveller boy or a Pavee as he is known, who develops a new friendship with a non-traveller or a Buffer girl.  Jim and Kit are both outsiders but the relationship that forms between them, helps each of them to feel less alone.  As Jim has never properly attended school before, Kit helps him to learn to read and gives him the gift of words.  However, when something terrible happens, everything changes.

I found the ending quite sad but at the same time it was tinged with hope for the future.  I would recommend this title if you are looking for something short but moving to read.    



Thursday, 23 March 2017

Review: See How They Lie - Sue Wallman

See How They Lie by Sue Wallman, published by Scholastic on 2nd March 2017

Goodreads synopsis:
If you got to live in a luxury hotel with world-class cuisine, a state-of-the-art sports centre and the latest spa treatments, would you say ‘yes please’?
Well, that’s kind of what Hummingbird Creek is like. No wonder Mae feels lucky to be there. It’s meant as a rich-kid’s sanatorium, but she isn’t sick. Her dad is the top psychiatrist there. But one day Mae breaks a rule. NOT a good idea. This place is all about rules – and breaking them can hurt you…



Review:
'See How They Lie' is the second book by Sue Wallman and in my opinion, much better than her debut YA novel.  This is a psychological thriller set at a wellness centre for psychiatric and troubled teens.  Although Hummingbird Creek sounds amazing and appears to have everything you could ever possibly want, the residents of the centre have no access to the outside world and restrictions are placed on what they eat, when they sleep, how much exercise they get and a hundred other things, including heavily filtered access to the internet.  Instead of sounding like a perfect paradise, it ended up resembling something more like a prison.

The main character Mae, lives with her mother and Doctor father at Hummingbird Creek.  It's the only home she has ever really known and she has very few memories of life out in the real world.  Mae has a close friendship with one of the other residents, Drew and together the two of them revel in tiny acts of rebellion which make them feel like they are living, rather than being kept prisoner. 

As the story unfolds, Mae begins to suspect that everything may not be quite as it seems.  Her teacher, Mrs Ray, is worried about he gaps in Mae's education.  Mae herself, begins to suspect that the vitamins she is given on a regular basis, may not be quite so innocent after all and her mother exhibits worrying behaviour that leads her to investigate what is really going on.

I loved following Mae's journey to discovery and found myself gripped by multiple revelations.  My only real disappointment with this book was the last few chapters, when everything was wrapped up really quickly.  I would have liked more of a big finale and I was waiting for something a little more spectacular to happen.  After drawing out the threads of the big reveal, it seemed like everything was concluded much too quickly.  That aside, I enjoyed 'See How They Lie' a lot and found it a quick and intriguing read.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Review: Gilded Cage - Vic James

Gilded Cage by Vic James, published by Pan Macmillan on 26th January 2017

Goodreads synopsis:
Our world belongs to the Equals—aristocrats with magical gifts—and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

Abi's brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.


Review:
I thought that this book was brilliant!  It really took me by surprise and swept me away to a modern Britain where slavery still exists and where magic runs in the air. It was an unusual mix of historical and urban fantasy genres but it blended together so well.

The premise of 'Gilded Cage' is that there is a magical aristocracy that all commoners have to serve for ten years of their life.  The story follows one family, the Hadleys, who all agree to serve their ten years together at the beck and call of one of the most ruthless magical family of all - the Jardines. However, while Abi and Daisy end up with their parents, their sibling Luke is taken away to Millmoor, a slave factory town.

I initially found the book slightly confusing because nearly every chapter is alternatively told from a different characters' perspective.  In the first ten chapters alone, there are six different points of view.  What made all the difference was when the characters began to grow on the page and I developed a picture of them in my mind.  It was then much easier to visualise them and their stories.  My favourite chapters were at Kyneston with the majority of the Hadley family. The magical element of the book was so unusual that I found everything that happened absolutely fascinating. 

The Jardines themselves were also incredibly interesting.  There is brutal Gavar who I couldn't decide if I liked or hated, middle brother Jenner who I immediately wanted to see more of and younger brother Silyen who is the most mysterious one of them all.  He has a dark skill that may change the world but was incredibly enigmatic and mercurial.

I'm not always a big fan of fantasy books but this was definitely my cup of tea.  It had a really intriguing and original plot which had me hooked.  I loved the whole concept for the series and I'm dying now to read the next in the Dark Gifts trilogy.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Review: The Scarecrow Queen - Melinda Salisbury

The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury, published by Scholastic on 2nd March 2017

Goodreads synopsis:
As the Sleeping Prince tightens his hold on Lormere and Tregellan, the net closes in on the ragged band of rebels trying desperately to defeat him. Twylla and Errin are separated, isolated, and running out of time. The final battle is coming, and Aurek will stop at nothing to keep the throne forever . . .




Review:
The eagerly awaited finale to the series is finally here!  There was no stopping me after I got my hands on this book and I couldn't wait to dive straight in.  This was a fitting end to a superb series which did not disappoint.

Although I thought that the previous book, 'The Sleeping Prince' had suffered a little bit from middle book syndrome, Melinda Salisbury held nothing back in 'The Scarecrow Queen' which was an exciting and explosive read. 

Twylla and Errin may have been separated and their forces divided, but they are by no means defeated yet, as we see them preparing to do battle against the Sleeping Prince.  The book alternates between their two perspectives as each has their own challenges to face in the final show down.  I actually ended up enjoying the parts of the story told by Errin the most, as she quite literally has to extricate herself from under Aurek's control.  He was very creepy and such a great villain in the story.  Errin has an ally in Merek and desperately wants to save Silas too but her situation is precarious.  Twylla meanwhile is attempting to bring together a band of rebels as the time for battle draws near.  I enjoyed seeing all of the characters and the threads of everyone's' stories gradually coming together

The story was fast-paced and gripping and there were some incredible twists and turns lying in wait.  I couldn't have guessed how the story was going to be concluded but it was genuine brilliance.   

A perfect example of a YA fantasy series that knocks your socks off!  I loved it and can't wait to read more by Melinda Salisbury in the future. 
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