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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, 15 September 2014

Review: One More Chance - Abbi Glines

One More Chance by Abbi Glines, published by Simon and Schuster on 2nd September 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Grant Carter did everything in his power to convince Harlow Manning that he was a good guy. More than a smooth-talker and someone she could trust. He had to overcome his reputation as a playboy, and his history with Harlow's half-sister, Nan, a woman with a reputation of her own.

Harlow had taken the chance, falling hard and fast for the guy who thrilled her with his all-consuming desire. After a lifetime of avoiding bad boys like Grant, she had opened herself to the possibilities of love...

But a life-changing secret has torn them apart, and now Grant and Harlow must decide if they have enough fight to make it work - or if the pain of betrayal has permanently destroyed their future.

This is the concluding part of Harlow and Grant's story which began in 'Take a Chance'.  I found it one of the most emotionally moving books that I've read so far in the series.  It was hard to see the words on the page at times because I was crying so much.

The point of view alternates between Harlow and Grant as we get to see them on the next stage of their journey together.  The narrative intersperses various letters as well which really added such a poignancy to the book.  It goes without saying that I loved Grant but actually I adored Harlow too.  She is such a pure-hearted and good person, both inside and out, that you cannot help but wish that you had someone like her in your life.

The book was a quick read but only really because I couldn't put it down!  I always have to read Abbi's books in one sitting because they are so wonderfully good and totally addictive. 

I love the Rosemary Beach crowd and it was great getting to see some of the other characters again.  I was taken aback by the unexpected act carried out by one of them and thrilled to see them all taking such a big part in each others' lives.  I'm over the moon as well that we will finally get to read about Tripp and Bethy who are the subject of the next book.  I think that this is the one that we've all been waiting for! 

Pitched absolutely perfectly, Abbi Glines will break your heart with this story of a love so strong and true that it can conquer any adversity.  A perfect fairy tale finish for one of my favourite couples.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

News: Bath Children's Literature Festival 2014

Every year I wish I was able to attend the Bath Children's Literature Festival.  They always have a stellar line-up of authors talking about their new books and this year is no exception with some fabulous guest speakers.

Moira Young and Michael Grant are going to be there on Sunday 5th October and even more excitingly, if you are able to get a ticket, then on Saturday 4th October you will be able to see Holly Black and Cassandra Clare in their first UK event together.  They are going to be discussing their new book 'The Iron Trial' which is the first in the Magisterium series.  I am dying to read this one which sounds absolutely fantastic.

The Festival runs from 26th September to 5th October and you can find out lots of information about tickets and the schedule here

Comment and let me know if you're attending.  It sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Review: Trial By Fire - Josephine Angelini

Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini, published by Macmillan Children's Books on 28th August 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted...which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily's life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem - one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

This is quite a difficult review to write because I loved Josephine Angelini's Starcrossed trilogy and have been anticipating this new series for ages now.  Unfortunately 'Trial By Fire' and I got off to a bit of a shaky start and never really recovered by the end of the book.

The first in the new Worldwalker trilogy centres around the main character Lily, who is allergic to everything.  This means that her life is restricted by all the things that she can't do.  Lily lives in Salem and after a difficult situation at a party with her best friend Tristan, she ends up disappearing.  When she wakes up she is in a different Salem altogether where her whole existence begins to change and she discovers things that she could only ever have dreamt of before.

Two things feature heavily in this book: witches and parallel universes.  I don't have a good track record with books about witches at all for some strange reason, even though I'm always hopeful that a story will make me change my mind.  Sadly, 'Trial By Fire' didn't.  I found it too heavily leaning towards fantasy and although the world building in the book was extremely well done, I just couldn't connect to the story itself or the characters.  It was only when I got about half-way through that things started to pick up and I became more engaged.   

Lily is normally a character that I would have loved but I never fully warmed to her or her predicament.  The romance which developed between her and Rowan was  a bit lacklustre and not enough to get me wanting to pick this book up either.

I'm really disappointed because I was dying to read this one and was expecting to be raving about it but this book and I just didn't click. 

The second in the trilogy 'Trail of Tears' will be published in 2015.  I haven't made up my mind yet whether I want to continue with Lily's journey but I know there are lots and lots of fans of this book out there who loved it, so if you think it sounds like your kind of read then please give it a go.    

Friday, 5 September 2014

Review: Messenger of Fear - Michael Grant

Messenger of Fear by Michael Grant, published by Electric Monkey on 26th August 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
I remembered my name – Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, faced with the solemn young man in the black coat with silver skulls for buttons, I could recall nothing else about myself.

And then the games began.

The Messenger sees the darkness in young hearts, and the damage it inflicts upon the world. If they go unpunished, he offers the wicked a game. Win, and they can go free. Lose, and they will live out their greatest fear.

But what does any of this have to do with Mara? She is about to find out...

I'm a massive Michael Grant fan so I was desperate to read this book.  The Gone series introduced me to his incredible writing and jaw-dropping stories but was almost too amazingly good, making it hard for any of his other series to really live up to it.  'Messenger of Fear' was brilliant but I still miss the Fayz and the characters that I had grown attached to. 

If you are looking for a creepy, shocking story which is all out gruesome at times then this is the book for you.  Horror fans will love it as Grant doesn't hold back from inviting the reader to join Mara on her twisted journey.  When Mara finds herself an unwitting accomplice to the Messenger of Fear she struggles to remember how she ended up with him.  She gradually starts to piece her memories back together which leads to a fantastic twist about her identity.  The Messenger himself has been appointed to uphold the balance.  If someone commits a terrible act then he ensures that they are given the choice to pay or play.  This leads to some harsh lessons being dealt but all with the expectation that the person will learn to be better because of it.  

There are lots of interwoven mini stories and characters throughout the book whose fates unravel as the plot progresses.  Some of these stories were actually quite difficult to read about, as not everyone gets a happy ending.  What I love about Michael Grant's books though is that happy endings are really immaterial.  He is never afraid to wrench one of your favourite characters away from you or to confront the reader with a difficult scene if he feels that it is right for the story. 

The plot is incredibly unique and original and I really did enjoy it, even though it didn't quite wow me as much as some of his other books have done in the past. A sequel is planned but you will have to wait until 2015 to get your hands on it.        

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Review: If You Leave - Courtney Cole

If I Leave by Courtney Cole, published by Hodder & Stoughton on 20th February 2014 

Goodreads synopsis:
26-year old Gabriel Vincent is a badass hero. Or he used to be, anyway. As an ex-Army Ranger, Gabe never thought he needed anyone. But after one horrible night in Afghanistan scars him in a way that he can't get past, he needs someone who can help him heal...even if he doesn't realize it.

25-year old Madison Hill doesn't need anybody...or so she thinks. She grew up watching her parents' messed-up abusive relationship and she knows there's no way in hell that she's ever letting that happen to her.

They don't know it in the beginning, but Gabriel and Madison will soon develop a weakness: Each other. But Gabriel's got a secret, a hidden monster that he's afraid Maddy could never overcome... And Maddy's got issues that she's afraid Gabe will never understand. They quickly realize that they need each other to be whole, but at the same time they know that they've got demons to fight.  And the problem with demons is that they never die quietly.

This is a cross between an Adult and New Adult book but whichever category you put it in, it is a really moving and quite emotional read.  This is the second book in the series but I don’t think that it matters too much if you read them out of order because they are more like standalone stories anyway.  Some characters do appear in this one from the first book but I personally don't feel like it spoils anything.
Maddison or Maddy as she’s known to her friends and family is searching for something although she doesn’t quite know what.  Gabriel (which happens to be one of my favourite guy names ever!) is running from something which haunts him.  The two together are a combustible combination if they can first help each other deal with the ghosts of their past.
I wasn’t too sure about Maddy to begin with.  She displays some behaviour which I wasn’t particularly a fan of.  However, as I got to know her and learn more about what she had sacrificed, I came to really admire her and her self-sacrifices.  She is incredibly tough and very protective of her younger sister which is another quality I loved about her.  It was great getting to see her character grow over the course of the story and come out a stronger person on the other side.
Gabe on the other hand I liked instantly.  He is dealing with a lot of issues but his determination to overcome these made me like him even more.  I loved the way in which he eventually became someone on whom Maddy could lean on, rather than her always having to look after herself.
Courtney Cole does a great job of showing the emotional and mental impact that serving in the military has on the brave men and women that go out there to protect us and this was an element of the story which really resonated with me. 
‘If You Leave’ was a fantastic book which I devoured in one sitting. I will definitely be picking up book three which is about Gabe's sister and is called 'Before We Fall'.  

Monday, 1 September 2014

Review: Dark of the Moon - Siobhan Curham

Dark of the Moon by Siobhan Curham, published by Electric Monkey on 3rd July 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
For Grace, being shipwrecked on a deserted island has brought two good things: new friendships . . . and Cruz, her soulmate. But as her romance with Cruz intensifies, so do the strange happenings on the island. A girl haunts Grace’s dreams – but what does she want? And will she ever let Grace leave?

Love, betrayal and voodoo darkness, beneath a seething sun . . .

Dark of the Moon’ is the second book in the Shipwrecked trilogy by Siobhan Curham.  I will admit that the opening instalment in the series didn’t totally wow me, although I found it enjoyable enough but the excitement steps up in this one which I devoured and really loved. 
I enjoyed it much more than the first book because I felt like I was thrown right into the middle of the action.  Siobhan Curham never once let up on the sense of danger which hangs over the group or the sense of unease that you experience from them being on the island.  There were also a lot more intriguing and unexpected twists along the way which had me hook, line and sinker. 
Grace and her friends are still trying to escape the island and the Voodoo Queen Hortense.  When they leave on a boat, hoping to find their way home, they realise that escape may not be possible until Hortense’s plan has played out to its full conclusion.   
There's romance between Grace and her boyfriend Cruz, plus friendship drama between Grace and Jenna who is struggling to hold things together.  The other secondary characters, Belle, Todd and Flea also feature but I kept expecting something terrible to happen to one of them the whole way through.
The ending was a huge surprise. Wow!  I didn’t see it coming at all and desperately didn't want the story to end.  I'm in absolute shock and the suspense of what is coming next is going to kill me!
This is a sizzling, spooky and supernatural read which is perfect to slip into your beach bag on a hot, sunny, summery day. 

Friday, 29 August 2014

Review: Anywhere - Jon Robinson

Anywhere by Jon Robinson, published by Puffin on 3rd July 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Six kids have escaped from a prison in the middle of nowhere. Now they're being hunted.

And they're beginning to realise they have a valuable skill - a skill that powerful people want for themselves.

They need to use it now more than ever, but can they learn how to in time?

*There may be spoilers from the previous book in the series

'Anywhere' is the second book in this exciting conspiracy series about teenagers Alyn, Jes, Ryan and Elsa, along with Harlan and Julian, as they try to leave the terrible existence of Nowhere behind them. 
The teens are separated as they go on the run, determined that they will never return to the terrible prison in which they were held.  As they learn more about their special abilities, they have to decide how to use them and who to trust.  As the characters all become separated, it means that we get to see them trying to survive in different situations and locations, with varying levels of success.  This kept the story flowing and provided plenty of opportunities for plot development.
I am over the moon that finally some of my questions have been answered.  I thought the explanation behind their captivity was actually quite plausible and believable which made it all the more scary.  It was great getting to find out more about the people and the organisation behind it all.  But be warned, they are scary bunch of individuals, particularly the insane Stephen!
Each chapter in the book is fairly short but impactful and there is always something happening which means that the story rockets along at breakneck speed.  I finished reading this in one evening because it was just so addictive that I couldn’t put it down.  A pacy and exciting read that fans of the TV series Misfits will definitely want to pick up. 
Please let me have the final book now!  Somewhere’ is due to be published in 2015.   
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