Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Review: Scarlet - Marissa Meyer

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, published by Puffin on 7th February 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. The police have closed her case. The only person Scarlet can turn to is Wolf, a street fighter she does not trust, but they are drawn to each other.

Meanwhile, in New Beijing, Cinder will become the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive – when she breaks out of prison to stay one step ahead of vicious Queen Levana.

As Scarlet and Wolf expose one mystery, they encounter Cinder and a new one unravels. Together they must challenge the evil queen, who will stop at nothing to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.

'Scarlet' is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer.  I adored 'Cinder' so I couldn't wait to get started on the sequel which turned out to be equally brilliant and amazing and mind-blowingly good. 

I thought I would miss not having Cinder as the main focus of the story but she is still at the heart of a lot of the action which takes place.  I would have liked some scenes between her and Kai but I have a feeling that this could well be stored up for the next book, just to keep us fans in anticipation.  Cinder is joined by some fantastic new characters including the determined and headstrong Scarlet Benoit, the mysterious Wolf and the amusing Captain Thorne. 

The story is split into two strands, one following Cinder and Thorne and the other focusing on Scarlet's quest to find and rescue her grandmother.  Chapters switch back and forth between the two but the plot strands eventually converge as the links between all the characters come to light.  I was curious to see how Meyer was going to integrate all the new faces but she did it brilliantly and by the end of the book I loved Scarlet as much as I do Cinder. 

The interweaving of fairytale elements with a fantasy sci-fi twist is one of the trademarks of this series and is so cleverly done.  There are traces of Little Red Riding Hood throughout with Scarlet on her way to find her grandmother after her mysterious disappearance, as well as Wolf appearing on the scene to help her.  At the start, I wasn't sure if he could be trusted or not but by the end I was hooked on the scenes with him and Scarlet and their burgeoning romance.  

Fabulously inventive and original, I love Marissa Meyer's writing and this series is one of my current favourites.  Compulsive reading, I finished 'Scarlet' over the course of one evening.  A simply unputdownable book! 

Still to come in the series are 'Cress' in 2014 and 'Winter' in 2015.  I'm not sure how I'm going to stand the wait! 

Monday, 25 March 2013

Review: Losing It - Cora Carmack

Losing It by Cora Carmack, published by Ebury on 28th March 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
As far as Bliss Edwards can tell, she's the last virgin standing, certainly amongst her friends. And she's determined to deal with the 'problem' as quickly and simply as possible.

But her plan for a no-strings one night stand turns out to be anything but simple. Especially when she arrives for her first class and recognises her hot new British professor.

She'd left him naked in her bed just 8 hours earlier...

This is one of my favourite books of the year so far and a brilliant addition to the New Adult genre.  Sweet, funny and romantic, I was totally swept away by the story.  I'm planning a re-read very soon so that I can enjoy 'Losing It' all over again.

The plot centres around 22 year old Bliss Edwards who has decided that it's high time she stopped being a virgin and finally had sex.  She sets out to find an uncomplicated guy who she can do the deed with but on a night out with one of her best friends, she meets a handsome British guy in a bar who she has unbelievable chemistry with.  The only problem is that Garrick turns out to be Bliss's new theatre professor and that's where things start getting a whole lot more complicated than she bargained for. 

I've read a lot of New Adult books lately and quite often they deal with some pretty heavy themes.  I loved this book because it was just a feel-good read from start to finish.  Bliss gets herself into some quite unusual situations at times and it was funny watching her attempt to extricate herself from them.  She's not perfect and she sometimes makes the wrong decisions, but she is a hugely appealing character who I really loved.  As for Garrick, wow!  I defy you not to fall head over heels for him!  He has a sexy British accent, he reads Shakespeare, he says all the right things at the right time and he's quite in touch with his feelings.  He's my perfect guy!  I enjoyed seeing how the relationship between the two of them developed and I was rooting for them the whole way through. 

I liked the setting of the story too, which took place mainly at Bliss's college where she is a theatre major.  There were some interesting behind the scenes insights into the theatre world and I thought it was clever how some of the plays they were rehearsing mirrored what was happening with Bliss's own emotions.      

The ending could not have been more perfect and left me with a huge smile on my face and a fuzzy warm feeling inside. I couldn't have asked for more and I think it delivered everything that fans of the story would have been hoping for!  

'Losing It' is one of my top books of 2013 and is a 5 star read!  It has wonderful characters, a sizzling romance, a brilliant plot and so many memorable moments that it would be hard to pick a favourite.  I'm hugely impressed by the fact that this is Cora Carmack's debut novel, as I adored her easy writing style.  I'm so looking forward to reading her next book 'Faking It' which follows Bliss's friend Cade.  I will also be keeping my eyes open for literally anything else she writes in the future as I know already I'll want to read it.   

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

News: Jennifer L. Armentrout publishing in UK by Hodder

I recently received some exciting news that Hodder will be publishing ten of Jennifer L. Armentrout's novels in the UK.  I'm really happy about this because although I've got copies of all of the Lux books sitting on my shelves, I haven't read any of her other titles yet.  I have heard amazing things about them though from my fellow bloggers!

The ten titles will include all the books in her YA paranormal series Covenant, the paranormal standalone 'Cursed', as well as two mystery thrillers. 

The Covenant novels, plus 'Cursed' will be published as ebooks on 25th April and the first mystery thriller 'Don't Look Back' will be published in April 2014 in paperback and ebook format. 

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

News: Marissa Meyer UK signing

For all those lucky readers who live in or near to Bromley, Marissa Meyer will be at Waterstones Bromley on March 26th for her very first UK signing.  I'm a huge fan of the Lunar Chronicles and have just finished reading 'Scarlet' which I adored and will be reviewing on the blog soon. 

You can read my review of 'Cinder' here.

Here are all the details of the event.  I'm very jealous of all you lucky people who are able to attend!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Review: A Witch Alone - Ruth Warburton

A Witch Alone by Ruth Warburton, published by Hodder on 7th February 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
Where do you go when your heart has been ripped out?

For Anna there is only one answer; into her past, where the truth about her mother, her power, and her real identity lie hidden.

But as Anna delves deeper into her history, she begins to fear that the truth about what set her mother running may be darker than she ever suspected. With the witches of the world on the brink of war, Seth gone, and her friend Abe wanting more from her than she can possibly give, Anna is in crisis.

As the clouds around her gather, Anna is torn between friends, family and rival tribes of witches and – at the last – between love and magic.

'A Witch Alone' is the third and concluding part of Ruth Warburton's trilogy about Anna Winterson, a teenage witch.  I have read a lot of young-adult series and I have to say, hand on heart, that this is one of my favourite.  I have adored each instalment and will definitely be picking them off my shelves to read again and again. 

After the ending of 'A Witch in Love', Anna wants to find out what really happened to her mother.  She is also desperately trying to work out her own place and where she belongs.  She thought she belonged with Seth but now she's struggling to make sense of her life without him.  I adore Anna and Seth as a couple but they have always had hanging over them the love spell that Anna originally cast over him.  This book finally puts that to rest in the most spectacular way.  If you're a fan of these two characters then you will not be disappointed.  I must admit that I wasn't too happy about the direction that things seemed to be taking in the previous book, with the introduction of Abe as a potential love rival.  I needn't have worried about this though because Ruth Warburton deals with it perfectly and this is most definitely not your typical ya love triangle.

If I had to be picky about anything, it would probably be that I wished there was more Seth in the book.  Although he does feature quite prominently in the second-half, he doesn't make much of an appearance at the start and I missed him!  This was however necessary to the plot so I guess I can't complain too much.  Readers are also treated to a fantastic chapter between him and Anna (if you've read the book then you'll know which one I mean and if you haven't then I won't spoil it for you) which was one of my all-time favourite moments. 

The ending was incredible and had me glued to the pages.  I actually had to stay up half the night to finish it because I was so engrossed.  There are elements which will appeal to everyone and I loved the fact that it doesn't necessarily tie everything up with a neat bow.  It's much more realistic but also remains true to the characters and the story. 

Full of action, excitement, magic and romance, this was the perfect end to the series.  I'm so sad that it's all over but also excited because I cannot wait to see what Ruth Warburton will write next.  I shall be the first in the queue to get my hands on a copy.  A wonderful British author and a five star series.  These books are definitely not to be missed!

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Blog Tour: Unremembered - Jessica Brody

Today I'm hosting a stop on Jessica Brody's blog tour for her phenomenal book 'Unremembered'.  Jessica was kind enough to answer some of my questions.

I've just finished reading Unremembered and loved it! What was your inspiration for the book?

Thanks so much! I’m so happy that you enjoyed it! A few years ago, I read a newspaper article about a teen girl who was the sole survivor of a plane crash. I was instantly fascinated by the story. Namely because they had no idea why she survived when no else did. I started brainstorming reasons as to why she was so lucky. One particular reason (a rather intricate, science-fiction-inspired one) stuck in my mind and refused to leave. It continued to grow and blossom until I had an idea for an entire trilogy. A trilogy that starts with a mysterious plane crash and a single survivor.

I can't wait to find out what will happen to Sera and Zen next. Can you give fans any hints?

Tee hee! Let’s see if I can come up with a few good ones without giving away too many spoilers about the first book for those who haven’t yet read it! UNFORGOTTEN begins 6 months after UNREMEMBERED ends. Sera and Zen have been living in the “secret place” that they travel to at the end of book 1. But they soon discover that this “place” isn’t as welcoming as they thought it would be. And the people who are looking for Seraphina have created a unique new “weapon.” One that she will be very difficult for her to defeat.

Phew! That was hard!

Which character in Unremembered did you enjoy writing the most?

I have to say Cody, Seraphina’s 13-year-old foster brother.

This genre was brand new for me. My first time venturing into the world of sci-fi. And as all my contemporaries were comedies, it was oftentimes a challenge for me to write something darker and more serious. Cody, however, is the comic relief of the novel. So writing him was like a little link back to my comfort zone. I always felt like I was “home” when I wrote him. And it gave me the opportunity to make fun of myself a little. While Sera’s storyline is rather dark and mysterious and all these harrowing things are happening to her, Cody can always be counted on to lighten the mood with a comedic crack.

This book is quite a change of pace from your previous work. Why did you decide to write something in this particular genre?

Well, I’ll start off by saying that I definitely didn’t abandon the contemporary genre. It’s still a genre I adore writing and I actually have another contemporary standalone book coming out in the US in Summer of 2015 that will be really fun. But the idea to try my hand at science fiction was really about flexing my creative muscles and seeing how far I could take a character outside of “normal teen life” and still create a compelling emotional journey for her and the reader. In the end, all my books (regardless of genre) tell stories about discovering who you are and dealing with what life brings you (because that’s universal.) In UNREMEMBERED, all I did was insert this struggle into a science-fiction setting where I could exaggerate the “who am I” question. As a writer it’s fun to be able to create an extraordinary world, drop a character in, and see what she does.

During the editing process I imagine that several scenes must have been cut from the book. Which was the hardest to leave out?

Seraphina has many unique, superhuman abilities in this book. There was one scene that I wrote (that I really loved) in which her doctor at the hospital discovers one of these abilities and calls to talk to her about it. It’s how she first discovers this particular ability. (And it’s a cool one!) I eventually ended up cutting it because it just felt like too much. She was already dealing with so much and learning so much about herself that I feared it muddled the story to add another detail at that point. So I cut the scene. But don’t worry, the ability is still there, she’s just not going to discover it until book 2. 

Which other titles would you recommend for those that enjoyed Unremembered?

Just the other day I learned a new term: “Biopunk.” I was fascinated when I found it in a review of UNREMEMBERED, since I’d never heard of it before, and immediately had to look up what it meant. It’s essentially a genre of science fiction that focuses on the unintended consequences of human experimentation and biotechnology. Which, in the end, is exactly what UNREMEMBERED is about. I’m excited to be part of this new growing trend in YA literature. And especially excited to be in the company of some amazing authors who, like me, are clearly fascinated by how science can change us, and how it can make for a thrilling story.

Some good ones in the YA genre include: ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury, MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza, BETA by Rachel Cohn, and EVE AND ADAM by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Review: Unremembered - Jessica Brody

Unremembered by Jessica Brody, published by Macmillan Children's Books on 28th February 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
A catastrophic plan crash leaves one survivor: a girl with no memory.

Who is she?  Where does she come from?

Nobody knows and no one comes forward to claim her.

Haunted by a looming threat she can't remember and plagued by abilities she doesn't understand, she struggles to recall who she is. But every clue leads to more questions. And she's running out of time to answer them.  Her only hope is a boy who claims they were once in love.

Alone and on the run, who should she trust? And what if she discovers that she is safer with a past that stays unremembered?

I was originally drawn to 'Unremembered' after I saw it described as a perfect read for fans of The Hunger Games, The Bourne Identity and Inception.  Being a big fan of all three, I had a feeling that this was going to be my kind of book and luckily I was right!  It has action, adventure and suspense in bucket loads, mixed with just a pinch of sci-fi and will, I'm sure, appeal enormously to readers who enjoy plenty of thrills and spills.  I finished it in one evening because it was so superb that I could not put it down.

The premise was intriguing from the start.  A girl survives a plane crash which kills everyone else on board.  Found floating in the middle of the ocean, she is rescued and taken to hospital.  However, when she wakes up, she has no memory of who she is and where she came from.  Taken in by a foster family, she struggles to make sense of everything around her and cannot provide people with any of the answers to the questions they keep asking.  That is until a strange boy tells her that he knows her and can reveal her true past.

The story is gripping and the plot complex.  I had to concentrate quite hard in the second-half to make sure that I didn't miss any crucial plot points.  I loved the fact that I had no idea what was going to happen next and I was kept guessing about the main character's true past, until the moment of the big reveal.  It's wonderful to be truly surprised instead of being able to predict the outcome of a book.  I can't say too much about the story itself because I'm so worried about giving something away, but needless to say it's absolutely brilliant and a very clever mind twister. 

Jessica Brody has mixed lots of different genres together, from sci-fi, to romance, to action thriller, but it works brilliantly and there is something to appeal to everyone.  At times, I can get a little tired of books always being part of a trilogy, but for once I'm glad to say that there is still more to come in the series with 'Unforgotten' due to be published in 2014.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Review: Lullaby - Amanda Hocking

Lullaby by Amanda Hocking, published by Tor on 6th December 2012

Goodreads synopsis:
Gemma had to disappear with Penn, Lexi and Thea after a night of incredible violence on the island. She can still barely come to terms with her new affinity with the ocean – and the siren powers that go with it. Now she’s been transformed, Gemma has no choice but to leave all she loves behind. She swears she won’t lose her humanity, but the call of the sea is maddening and compulsive.

Harper won’t give up on her missing sister. The search draws her closer than she’d like to bohemian Daniel, but she could really use his help. They’d almost given up, until a small news item tells of a horrific murder in a nearby beach town, and Harper thinks she’s found the deadly group. But can Gemma’s curse be reversed – and what if she doesn’t want to come home?

'Lullaby' is the second book in Amanda Hocking's Watersong trilogy.  The action picks up immediately after the events of 'Wake'.  Harper is desperate to find her sister and rescue her from the clutches of Penn and co, but she has no idea where to start in finding her.  Gemma is trying to face up to her new future, after leaving her family and Alex behind, but is not prepared for life as a siren.

This book was good and an entertaining read but for me, fell short of brilliant.  I enjoyed the story but it did seem quite slow at times and I felt slightly as if not enough actually happened.  This may be because it is the second in the series and Hocking is therefore holding back for an explosive finale.  Whatever the case, I would have liked the pace to have been picked up a bit in places.

The third person narrative is once again split between the two sisters.  Harper is my favourite because I can empathise with her feelings of being the big sister trying to protect her younger sibling.  She would do anything for Gemma and is always looking out for her, so I could understand her desperation in wanting to bring her sister back.  I also loved the growing romance between her and Daniel, which finally starts to flourish in this instalment.  Although she has never really been interested in the opposite sex, he definitely gets under her skin and she is attracted to him, even though she finds it hard to admit that to herself.

The passages of the book focusing on Gemma were interesting because I got to learn more about the history and mythology of the sirens themselves.  This is one of the best aspects of the series.  The curse seems pretty unbreakable but there are hints that there may be a way for Gemma to free herself.  I liked getting to know more about Penn, Lexi and Thea too, particularly the latter who didn't seem quite so evil after all.

'Lullaby' didn't pull me in as much as I thought it was going too but I'm still suitably intrigued to know what will happen to the characters next so I will definitely be reading the conclusion of the series 'Tidal'.      

Monday, 11 March 2013

Review: Barely Breathing - Rebecca Donovan

Barely Breathing by Rebecca Donovan, published by Penguin on 28th February 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
 The scandalous secrets of Emma's abuse are revealed, but she still has so much to learn out about her past. Why did her mother leave her all those years ago? What really happened the night Emma's father died? Were her memories of being happy just a dream?

The repercussions of one horrific night has affected the lives of everyone involved. But with the promise of true love and new relationships, will Emma let it ruin hers for good?

'Barely Breathing' will leave your emotions in a mess and your heart hurting.  It will also leave you counting down the days to the third and final instalment of this series which can't be published soon enough for me.  I was extremely impressed with Rebecca Donovan's debut novel, 'Reason to Breathe' and so picked this one up as soon as it arrived.  It's another difficult read because it makes you care so much about the main character Emma that at times it is hard to read about some of the things that she has to go through.  I felt sadness, hope, joy and despair at various stages throughout this book and by the end I felt exhausted but also desperate to know what was going to happen next.

The story picks up 6 months after previous events.  Emma is now safe and living with Sara and her parents, while Carol has been sent to prison and George and the children have moved away.  Emma is slowly coming to terms with the abuse which was inflicted on her and is trying to carry on with her life with Evan by her side.  With college in the near future, at the beginning of the book she decides to move in with her mother Rachel, so that the two can develop a relationship before she moves away.  I have to admit that although I admired how willing Emma is to give people a second chance and try to build bridges, a small part of me couldn't understand why she wanted to put herself back into a potentially difficult situation, after having just escaped one.  She is safe and secure with Sara's family and I wanted her to stay there and put herself first for once.

Her relationship with Rachel is not a typical mother-daughter one.  Rachel abandoned her in the past and has problems with drinks and drug, both of which make for a potentially explosive family environment.  She is also now dating a younger man, Jonathan, who she brings into Emma's life.  It was hard at times to see the way in which she treats Emma and her reluctance to talk about what happened to her daughter while she was gone.  I think she genuinely did want to mend things between them but it was also obvious that she didn't have her own life under control yet.  There is also friction because of Emma's father and some surprising revelations are brought to light about their family situation.  

I definitely was not a fan of Jonathan at all but I thought the bond which develops between him and Emma was well written.  They have things in common because of experiences they've both faced in their pasts and Emma feels like he understands some of what she has gone through.  As an Emma/Evan supporter, I did not want to see anything come between them and therefore read some of the scenes in the book with some unease about the way in which things were going to work out for them. 

The ending left me in tears.  It literally ripped my heart out.  I don't know how I'm going to cope until I get my hands on the third book, 'Out of Breath'.  I'm going to be in a continual state of anticipation until then!  I only hope that Emma gets the ending that I want for her. 

Friday, 8 March 2013

Review: Born Wicked - Jessica Spotswood

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, published by Puffin on 7th February 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
Everybody thinks Cate Cahill and her sisters are eccentric. Too pretty, too reclusive, and far too educated for their own good. But the truth is even worse: they're witches. And if their secret is discovered by the priests of the Brotherhood, it would mean an asylum, a prison ship--or an early grave. Then Cate finds her mother's diary, and uncovers a secret that could spell her family's destruction. Desperate to find alternatives to their fate, Cate starts scouring banned books and questioning rebellious new friends, all while juggling tea parties, shocking marriage proposals, and a forbidden romance with the completely unsuitable Finn Belastra. But if what her mother wrote is true, the Cahill girls aren't safe--not even from each other.

'Born Wicked' is a fantastic read about three sisters who also happen to be witches.  This is a secret that they must keep even from their father, because it would be far too dangerous for them if the truth was ever discovered.  With no mother to guide them, the oldest sister Cate vows to look after and protect her younger siblings from the Brotherhood, who arrest anyone they suspect to be a witch.  When a new governess arrives to look after them, Cate tries to safeguard their secret but the discovery of a prophecy in her mother's journal about three sisters, puts their future in jeopardy.

If you love witchy stories then you definitely need to pick up this title!  It only took me a few pages to become hooked and then I found it nearly impossible to put down.  Because of the period in which it is set, there is a culture of fear created by The Brotherhood, who warn people against anything to do with witchcraft.  They lecture the town's people regularly about the evils of magic, as well as the fact that women should be obedient to men and often force young girls into marriage.  Cate is headstrong and wishes to choose her own path but wonders whether she would be safer marrying the handsome Paul who she grew up alongside.

I quite liked Paul to start with but my heart was most definitely won over by Finn Belastra, the gorgeous gardener, whose family also owns and runs the local bookshop.  He's intelligent and bookish and utterly wonderful!  I thought he was a much better match for Cate because he treated her like an equal.  He is also fiercely protective of his mother and sister and would do anything for them.  There is one particular scene (those of you who have read it will immediately know which one I'm talking about!) which set my heart fluttering wildly.  It was beautifully written and my favourite moment of the whole book.

Cate and her sisters Tess and Maura each have very different personalities.  I enjoyed reading about each of them, although Cate was my favourite.  Because of their shared secret they are extremely close but don't necessarily have the same plans for their future.  Due to the discovery of an unexpected revelation in the prophecy, it will be interesting to see what happens to this sibling bond in the next instalment of the trilogy.

Because this is a book about witches I was expecting it to verge on the side of the paranormal, but in reality, it actually often came across more as historical fiction which I liked.  There are quite a lot of magical occurences which take place throughout the story but this never distracted from the plot and the character development which was brilliantly executed.     

I'm really looking forward to the story continuing in 'Star Cursed' which will be published in the UK by Puffin in 2014.   

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Review: Between the Lines - Tammara Webber

Between the Lines by Tammara Webber, published by Penguin on 14th February 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
Young actress Emma is starring in her first ever major film role, opposite well-known teen heart-throb Reid. The exclusive clubs, snapping photographers and screaming fans are all a normal part of life for Reid but it's all new to Emma.The other actors befriend her - and Graham in particular seeks her out - but Emma isn't sure she's really comfortable in this scene. Reid is also experiencing something new - girls throwing themselves at him is an everyday occurrence but genuinely falling for his co-star? That's not what he expected to happen...


A few weeks ago I read 'Easy' by Tammara Webber and was completely blown-away by it.  I was therefore very excited to discover that Penguin are publishing more of her books in the UK, including the Between the Lines series.  The first installment focuses on Emma and Reid who are both starring in a modern adaptation of 'Pride and Prejudice', set in a high school.  Cast in the two lead roles, they are thrown together on the movie set.  It looks like life could be mirroring art when Reid sets his sights on Emma but her head may already have been turned by someone else.

The story is told with a dual narrative, providing insights into the lives of both Emma and Reid.  I have to say that I really wasn't a big fan of Reid's at all.  I'm still not sure if I was supposed to have warmed to him by the end of the book or not, but I just found him quite obnoxious and extremely arrogant.  Because he has heaps of screaming female fans literally falling at his feet, he is very self-confident and thinks that he can have anything he wants, including Emma.  There is a twist regarding his character which is revealed near the end of the story but even that wasn't enough to make me change my mind about him.

The other central male figure in the book is Graham, who is also an actor in the film.  My reaction to him was almost the opposite to how I felt about Reid.  Graham came across as kind, caring and sensitive.  He and Emma get on really well and have a strong connection from the start.  He is older than some of the others on the set but he always seems to do and say the right thing and he has real depth and intelligence.  I was rooting for him and Emma the whole way through because they seemed a much, much better match.

I loved the setting for the story and finding out more about the process of film-making.  Interspersed throughout are pages of dialogue from the characters' scripts and this was also a good addition.  Behind the scenes emotions run riot as jealousy, love, hatred and despair all come to the fore.  There are also two really unexpected revelations at the end, which set things up nicely for the next book in the series. 

'Between the Lines' was very different to 'Easy' because the tone of the whole book was much lighter.  The story however was still brilliant and I'm excited to find out what is going to happen next.    

Monday, 4 March 2013

Review: Speechless - Hannah Harrington

Speechless by Hannah Harrington, published by Mira Ink on 1st February 2013

Goodreads synopsis:
Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret.

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.  But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive hersel

‘Speechless’ is the first book I’ve read by Hannah Harrington but it certainly won’t be the last! Although the story didn’t win me over entirely, what did impress me was Hannah Harrington’s wonderful writing. I really need to read her debut novel ‘Saving June’ which I’ve heard great things about.

The story revolves around Chelsea Knot who is best friends with the most popular girl in school. One night, she witnesses something at a party which she spills to all of her friends. This leads to a terrible event occurring which she feels responsible for. When she decides to tell the truth about what happened, she ends up being ostracised by those she’d thought were her friends. Understanding that her mouth has run away with her one too many times, she takes a vow of silence.

I didn’t particularly like the character of Chelsea to start with but she grew on me throughout the book. She was genuinely sorry about her part in what happened and she ended up really developing as a person. Given the cold shoulder by the popular kids in school, she is befriended by Asha and Sam. With them, she starts to realise that she can be a better person and through her vow she learns that silence can sometimes be more powerful than words. I loved all the people that Chelsea got to hang out with in the book. Asha is genuinely good and kind and Sam was just adorable. I would have liked both of them as friends. In their own way, they help her to come to terms with her actions and want her to just be herself, rather than who everyone else thinks she should be. They are comfortable and easy for her to be around and they offer her a genuine hand of friendship.

There are many different types of bullying in ‘Speechless’ and it was interesting to see the way in which this was explored.  I definitely think that Chelsea was better off in the end because those who had professed to be her friend at the start really weren't.  Homophobia is another of the main issues and I found some of the characters’ attitudes about this truly shocking and narrow-minded.

'Speechless' is a powerful book with an important message to share.  The idea of having a character who doesn't actually speak was highly original and worked well, but at times I felt like I'd read this kind of story before.  That said, I still really enjoyed it and I'm sure it will appeal hugely to people dealing with similar issues to the characters in the book.  
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