Monday, 29 December 2014

My Favourite Books of 2014

2014 has been somewhat of a mixed reading year for me.  I've come across some absolutely wonderful books but at the same time I've read quite a few which really didn't blow me away.  Still, there were quite a few titles that were automatic inclusions on my favourite books of the year list and I have high hopes for 2015 which already has me pretty excited.    

Here's my 2014 top ten list.  These are in no particular order and have not necessarily been published this year.

1. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury
This is one of my favourite series of the last few years.  I think that Sarah J. Maas's writing is incredible and her stories are mind-blowing.  I'm totally captivated by Celaena's adventure, am in love with Chaol, Captain of the Guards and can't wait to see what happens in the next book (which yes, I haven't read yet!).   

2. Far From You by Tess Sharpe
Published by Indigo
I said -  "'Far From You' was a real treat to read.  It shows the unquenchable desire of first love as well as presenting an intriguing mystery with lots of twists and turns.  It's one of those books which is sure to cement itself into the hearts of readers everywhere."   
 3. Cress by Marissa Meyer
Published by Puffin
I said - "'Cress' weaves fantasy together with adventure and romance to create a thrilling story which gripped me from start to finish.  I thought the book was absolutely amazing and brilliantly constructed and I loved every second of it."
 4. Bad For You by Abbi Glines
Published by Simon and Schuster
I said - "I never want to leave Sea Breeze - I adore the characters and their stories and I could go on reading about them forever!  Abbi Glines never disappoints me with her truly fantastic books and 'Bad For You' has shot right to the top of my best reads of 2014." 
 5. Love, Lies and Lemon Pies by Katy Cannon
Published by Stripes
I said - "Like Lottie and co, when I'm baking, I forget about everything else that I have to do and just focus on the mixing, beating, measuring and stirring.  This is captured perfectly in the pages of the story and was something I loved about the overall book which was truly as sweet and delicious as a cupcake!"
 6. Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Published by Entangled
I can't believe it took me so long to get around to reading this series.  As soon as I did I was utterly hooked.  Kat and Daemon are one of my favourite book couples and although I've included the first book in the series in my top ten, I'm going to cheat a little and say that I'd really include all of them!
 7. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Published by Harper Collins
I said - "Fans of Oz MUST get their hands on this book.  I can't recommend it highly enough.  The writing is lush and original and the narrative just carried me away.  I now have a desire to dye my hair pink and get a plucky rat sidekick.  Sheer brilliance in a book!"
 8. Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington
Published by Orchard Books
I said - "I loved this book!  It's hands down the best thing I've ever read by Jessica Shirvington.  Gut wrenchingly emotional, packed full of suspense and heartbreaking to the extreme, I devoured every single word of it and can't wait to go back and read it all over again."   
 9. Searching For Someday by Jennifer Probst
Published by Pocket Books
I said - "'Searching for Someday' is a sparkling romance with a slight touch of the paranormal.  I absolutely loved it and it made for the perfect weekend read.  It's the first in a new series which I will definitely be following."
 10. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Published by Abacus
This isn't a Young Adult book but I'm including it because my top ten favourite books of the year list definitely would not be complete without it.  I was blown away by 'The Goldfinch' which reminded me of Charles Dickens's 'Great Expectations' in it's sheer scope and the way that it follows the main character Theo from childhood to adulthood; his whole life being influenced by an event which was outside of his control.  It's over 800 pages long, so it's a whopper of a book but it's also one that I loved and will be recommending to everyone.   
Comment and let me know if you've read any of these and what your personal favourites of 2014 were.

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.   

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Review: Between the Lives - Jessica Shirvington

Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington, published by Orchard Children's Books on 17th August 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
For as long as she can remember, Sabine has lived two lives. Every 24 hours she shifts to her 'other' life - a life where she is exactly the same, but absolutely everything else is different: different family, different friends, different social expectations. In one life she has a sister, in the other she does not. In one life she's a straight-A student with the perfect boyfriend, in the other she's considered a reckless delinquent. Nothing about her situation has ever changed, until the day when she discovers a glitch: the arm she breaks in one life is perfectly fine in the other.

With this new knowledge, Sabine begins a series of increasingly risky experiments that bring her dangerously close to the life she's always wanted. But if she can only have one life, which is the one she'll choose?

I loved this book!  It's hands down the best thing I've ever read by Jessica Shirvington.  Gut wrenchingly emotional, packed full of suspense and heartbreaking to the extreme, I devoured every single word of it and can't wait to go back and read it all over again. 

The main character Sabine has two lives.  The one in Roxbury with her little sister Maddie and hardworking parents and the seemingly perfect existence in Wellesley where she has everything she could ever want.  Every twenty four hours however, she shifts between the two, having to maintain a perfect fa├žade of her life in both.  The story focuses on her parallel lives and what happens when Sabine decides that she can't go on with her double existence.

'Between the Lives' had a brilliant plot which had me hooked from the start.  I wasn't sure in which direction the story was going to end up and if there would be any proper resolution for Sabine but I was desperate to find out.  I stayed up all night to finish the story and I then couldn't wait to talk about this book with everyone.  It's one that you'll go on thinking about long after finishing the last page.

Sabine was a wonderful character.  She does everything she can to main the balance in both of her lives but when things start to fall apart she has some incredibly difficult choices and decisions to make.  There's no right or wrong answer to her dilemma, only having to live with whatever choice she ends up making.

I loved the ending which was utterly perfect.  I never wanted this book to end and it was truly a five star read which I want to recommend to everyone.  If you enjoy YA psychological thrillers with romance to book then you must read this. 

Monday, 3 November 2014

Review: Hold on Tight - Abbi Glines

Hold on Tight by Abbi Glines, published by Simon and Schuster in October 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Six years ago, Dewayne Falco's life changed. He lost someone he never expected to lose. Resigned to punish himself for something he felt he could have prevented, he goes through life without getting too close to anyone.  What he didn't expect was for the girl across the street to move back home and remind him of what they both lost: Dewayne's younger brother Dustin.

Sienna Roy loved Dustin Falco most of her life. He was the boy next door, the high school basketball star and her best friend. But when his life was cut short, she realized he left a part of himself behind.

Now, she's back in Sea Breeze, thankful to have a home but not sure if she can ever forgive the people across the street who abandoned her when she needed them the most — The Falcos.

Dewayne Falco has been a permanent fixture in Sea Breeze since the start of this brilliant series.  Always in the background and usually drunk, with a different woman on his arm every night, he's been somewhat of an elusive figure.  Part of Preston, Cage and Marcus's group of friends, not much has been revealed about his own past...until now. 

I love the way that Abbi Glines can take a character who you think you've made up your mind about and then get you to completely change your opinion of them within a couple of pages.  That's exactly what happened with Dewayne, who I thought I wasn't going to like, judging from what I'd seen of him in previous books, but whom I absolutely ended up loving.  If you think he's just a shallow, egotistical ladies man then think again.  There's much more to Dewayne Falco than first meets the eye.

As well as hot, swoonworthy men, Abbi Glines also writes wonderful female characters and Sienna was no exception.  The love she has for her son shines out from every page and it's evident from the start that she will do anything to try and give him the happiness he deserves.  She puts aside her own feelings to welcome the Falco family back into their lives and she is totally selfless when it comes to Micah.  He, of course, is an absolute cutie and impossible to resist.

It's obvious from the beginning that Sienna and Dewayne should be together but seeing them work out the mistakes and misunderstandings of their past is what makes this such an enjoyable read.  They have to get past the ghost of Dewayne's brother Dustin first but I loved seeing them rediscover each other again. 

In my opinion, Abbi Glines never puts a foot wrong and I adore each and every one of her books.  She is on my auto-buy list and I know I'm in safe hands when I read one of her stories.  She never disappoints!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Review: Remember Me - Romily Bernard

Remember Me by Romily Bernard, published by Simon and Schuster in October 2014

Goodreads synopsis:

"Remember Me."These are the words carved on the dead body of a local judge's assistant . . . the same local judge who sarcastic teen hacker, Wick Tate, is investigating as part of her undercover hacking for her not-exactly-favourite cop, Detective Carson.

In this edge-of-your-seat thrilling sequel to Find Me, Wick had thought her troubles were over. But she should've known better. Now she is once again dealing with criminals and corrupt cops . . . and a brooding new love interest. The pressure might be too much, as secrets -including Wick's own - climb to the surface. Will Wick persevere like she has before?

Wick Tate returns in this second thrilling read by Romily Bernard.  After the events of 'Find Me', Wick is desperately trying to get things back to normal but the consequences of her actions are still reverberating throughout her home, school and personal life.  Being used by Detective Carson was not what she had in mind but she is determined to keep her sister and adoptive mother safe, so she's willing to go to any lengths to ensure that they don't get hurt. 

Throughout the course of the book, Wick also begins to find out more about her biological mother's death.  This was a really fascinating addition to the plot and begins to change Wick's view of everything that had happened to her family in the past.  It also leads to a lot of surprising revelations which I certainly didn't see coming.   

Wick is one of my favourite female protagonists.  She has had to deal with more than anyone her age should have but boy, is she tough.  Even when she suffers knockbacks, she gets right back up and keeps on going.  In the previous book, she had the fabulous Griff to lean on, but after everything that has happened, problems start to arise between the two of them.  As much as I love Griff, I really liked the addition of Milo to the story.  He and Wick have a lot in common and they work so well together.  They have a connection from the start which felt very real and the more I saw them together, the more I found myself rooting for them.

'Remember Me' is a brilliantly tense, gripping and thrilling read.  The mystery is multi-layered and the shocks and surprises just keep on coming.  The story is fast paced and addictive and you won't be able to put it down.  I can certainly guarantee that you will be left wanting more from this brilliant author. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Review: Misty Falls - Joss Stirling

Misty Falls by Joss Stirling, published by Oxford University Press on 2nd October 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Misty is a one-girl disaster zone. Born with a Savant 'gift' that means she can never tell a lie, her compulsive truth-telling gets her into trouble wherever she goes.

So when she meets Alex: gorgeous, confident, and impossibly charming, Misty instantly resolves to keep her distance . . . Someone so perfect could never be hers, surely?

But a dark shadow has fallen across the Savant community. A serial killer is stalking young people who have these special mental powers. Soon one of them will be taken to the edge of death . . . and beyond.

This is one of my favourite series, featuring the wonderful Benedict brothers and their search to find their soulfinders.  I love the idea of there being one perfect person out there for everyone.  A person who will complete you and be your other half.  Joss Stirling writes these characters so brilliantly and their story is so addictive that I'm always left wanting to read more about them and their lives.

Although I automatically want to read every single one of Joss Stirling's books, I was a little bit worried when I found out that 'Misty Falls' would centre around a new character, savant Misty, rather than focusing on one of the Benedicts.  I needn't have worried though because Misty and the confident and charming Alex, drew me into the story immediately.  They have quite a rocky relationship but I found it more realistic to see them having to overcome a lot of issues rather than automatically getting their happy ending.  Plus, it's a huge bonus that we do still get to see some of Uriel's story, along with the other Benedict brothers who pop up throughout the book.

One of the main plot strands involves a serial killer on the loose, who is targeting the savant community.  I had no idea who it was and this added a real element of surprise particularly in the second half of the book which was very tense and dramatic.

I love reading about the savant community and discovering the special gifts that each of them have.  Misty's 'gift' means that she can't tell a lie and can sense immediately when anyone around her is not telling the truth.  Her ability initially causes some friction with Alex but it was great getting to see them work out their problems.  I would only say that I would have liked more romance because this is always one of my favourite things about Joss's books and there weren't nearly enough kisses for my liking!

'Misty Falls' was a brilliant read and a fantastic addition to the series.  I'm still hoping that we get to see Victor and Will meet their matches because they really have had to wait long enough.  A huge hurrah to Joss Stirling for keeping the quality of this series so high and for writing such amazing stories. 


Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Review: Black Ice - Becca Fitzpatrick

Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick, published by Simon and Schuster on 7th October 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn't prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage.

In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there... and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target.

But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

'Black Ice' was a book of two halves.  The second part was so much better than the first but it depends if you are willing to wade your way through the opening chapters to get to that point.  I know a lot of other bloggers have read this one and had quite strong reactions to it but I always try to approach books with an open-mind.  Sadly, it isn't one that I particularly enjoyed which is a shame because when I first heard about it I thought the synopsis sounded brilliant. 

I didn't warm to the main character Britt or her best friend Korbie, who both seemed incredibly shallow and spoilt.  They are supposed to be best friends but it seemed more like a competition between them.  Because they seem so spoilt, they don't appear capable of doing anything for themselves, which made the idea of them backpacking alone through the Teton mountains almost unbelievable.  When the weather takes a turn for the worse, they end up seeking refuge in the first cabin they stumble across which happens to contain two men.  Now, I know that they are in a potentially dangerous situation, cut-off from seeking help from any other source, but surely common sense would tell you that it's more dangerous to stay in a cabin with two strange men that you don't know. 

I didn't like the way that Britt and Korbie behaved with the men either.  They flirt and compete against one another for attention, rather than thinking about the possible danger they are in.  There are so many indicators that they shouldn't trust them but they ignore all of these.

I did enjoy the survival aspect of the book and the fact that they have to find a way to stay alive in the wilderness but even that wasn't enough to get me on-board with the overall plot. 

As the pieces of the story began to click together, I began to enjoy it a little more and I thought that it was very creepy and suspenseful in places.  Unfortunately the book was just let down by extremely unlikeable characters who I couldn't find it in me to care about.

I will still be looking out for Becca Fitzpatrick's next book but sadly, this one wasn't for me.          

Monday, 20 October 2014

Review: The Mission - Allen Zadoff

The Mission by Allen Zadoff, published by Orchard Books on 4th September 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
He was the perfect assassin. No name. No past. No remorse.

Perfect, that is, until he began to ask questions and challenge his orders. Now The Program is worried that their valuable soldier has become a liability.

And so begins a new mission. A test of sorts. A chance to prove his loyalty.

But nothing about this mission is as it seems: not The Program, his allegiances, nor the truth.

Since the end of the Alex Rider series and Young Bond, I've been looking for a similar YA thriller series which will leave me with sweaty palms and a racing heart.  I think I've finally found it in the shape of the superb Boy Nobody books by Allen Zadoff.  If you're a thriller fan, who enjoys tense, nail-biting reads which are fast-paced and incredibly exciting then you definitely need to get your hands on these books which are described as Jason Bourne meets James Bond. 

'The Mission' is the second instalment in the series about a nameless teenage assassin who works for The Program; an organisation which is shaded in mystery.  As it's secrets gradually begin to be revealed, Boy Nobody, starts to question everything he thought was true.  I like the fact that you are never really sure whether his missions are ultimately good or bad, but having been used to following orders for so long, he is almost afraid to discover the truth about the people who command him.

This time around, our assassin has a new target but is left out in the cold when communication with his superiors is cut off.  Working alone and without back-up, he has to decide how to act, when some surprising revelations come to light.  I was glued to each chapter, as the story gets more and more tense and exciting and I wasn't sure who was going to be left standing at the end. 

This is a real edge of your seat read.  You never know what is going to come next and Allen Zadoff certainly isn't afraid to pull any punches.  If a character is superfluous to the plot or has served their purpose then they have to go.  This keeps the reader in a state of anticipation as you don't want to get too attached to anyone. 

This series has it all.  Action and excitement, plus a great over-arching plot and a protagonist who you want to believe in, even when you question his actions.  The only thing I'm disappointed in is that after finally having stumbled across such a fantastic YA thriller series, there is only one more book in the trilogy still to come.  'The Traitor' is the concluding instalment and is due to hit shelves in June 2015.   

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Review: The Perfectionists - Sara Shepard

The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard, published by Hot Keys Books on 2nd October 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Mackenzie, Ava, Julie, Caitlin and Parker seemingly don't have much in common. Each has their own friends, dramas and goals. But one thing they do share: they all have a deep hatred of Nolan Hotchkiss. And they all think it's about time he paid for what he's done. They come up with the perfect murder - a hypothetical murder, of course. It's all wishful thinking ... until they wake up one morning to find that their wish has come true. Nolan has been killed - in exactly the way they planned. The thing is, they didn't do it. So who did?

This book was a really good read which left me puzzling out all the clues and trying to work out who did what.  I'm a big fan of the Pretty Little Liars book and television series, so I was itching to read this new title by Sara Shepard as soon as I heard about it.  The only thing that worries me is that the series will end up being as drawn out and protracted as PLL was.  I like a generous helping of suspense and lots of red herrings and twisty plot turns but I also don't want to get fed-up with being left in the dark for too long.

The story focuses on Ava, Julie, Mackenzie (who was my personal favourite), Parker and Caitlin.  Each chapter is from a different girls' point of view as they get drawn together by their shared actions.  They all have seemingly perfect lives but they are all hiding secrets which they don't want anyone to reveal.  The basic premise of the plot is that Nolan Hotchkiss, a rich kid who they hate, ends up dead at the beginning of the book.  The reader is left to work out who did it and why as the girls find themselves up to their necks in trouble.

There are quite a lot of similarities with the PLL series, least of which being about a group of girls brought together by a dark secret, but I didn't really mind that as the story was so gripping.  I couldn't connect up all the dots but I'm going to enjoy puzzling it all out and trying to discover who the guilty party actually is.

There is a massive cliff-hanger ending in the book which has left me in a state of suspense.  I'm hooked and I desperately need to know what is going to happen to all the girls next.

Deliciously dark and twisty, this is a great read which will leave you wanting more...immediately!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Review: The Memory Keepers - Natasha Ngan

The Memory Keepers by Natasha Ngan, published by Hot Keys Books on 4th September 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Seven is a thief with a difference - he steals downloadable memories from banks and memoriums to sell onto London's black market, trading secrets and hidden pasts for a chance at a future of his own. He makes sure he keeps some special stuff back to 'surf' himself though - it's the only real form of entertainment he can afford. But one night, as Seven is breaking into a private memorium in a wealthy part of London, he is caught in the act by one of its residents; Alba, the teenage daughter of London's most famous criminal prosecutor. Instead of giving him away, Alba promises to keep Seven's secret - as long as he allows her to go memory-surfing herself. In doing so, they discover a hidden memory about Seven's past, revealing a shocking secret about Seven's childhood, the government and a mysterious experiment known as The Memory Keepers...

This is the second book by Natasha Ngan after last year's stellar 'The Elites'.  While I didn't enjoy this one quite as much, it was still a pretty good read. 

I thought the concept for the novel was brilliant.  Set in the future, it imagines a world in which people are able to store their memories.  These are then either kept or traded as valuable commodities.  They are even sometimes stolen by criminal gangs, which is where one of the main characters Seven features. I loved the idea of being able to relive your own memories, or experience other peoples' through their eyes.  It's such an incredible idea but Ngan makes you believe that there might come a day when it would be possible. 

Seven is a poor teenager living in the South, who is caught trying to steal a memory by Alba, the daughter of one of London's most prominent criminal prosecutors.  In the process he discovers a huge secret about his own past which changes his entire outlook and his future.  I really liked both characters but I particularly enjoyed seeing the story unfold from Alba's point of view.  She is incredibly likeable and although she has an extremely unhappy home life, she never lets it break her and has more grit and determination than she gives herself credit for.

The beginning of the book was a little slow but it picked up for me after a few chapters.  The ending was extremely exciting and there were lots of unexpected surprises along the way which I enjoyed.  As much as I liked reading 'The Memory Keepers' I'm happy that this is a standalone because there are just so many trilogies being published now that it's nice to read a story which gets concluded rather than having to wait another year for the following instalment. 

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Review: The Rise and Rise of Tabitha Baird - Arabella Weir

The Rise and Rise of Tabitha Baird by Arabella Weir, published by Piccadilly Press on 2nd October 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
When 13-year-old Tab Baird starts at a new school, she's determined to be the coolest, most popular girl there - whatever it takes. She adjusts her school skirt so it's just the right length. She has enough attitude to make it into the in-crowd. She even gets the attention of the hottest guys. But it's not easy being uber-cool. No one must find out that her mum, brother and her have moved into her gran's house, so she tries to persuade Gran to pose as a house-keeper. And if anyone discovers her mum's blog - about her teenage daughter - it'll be the ultimate in social death.

This is the first book about thirteen year old Tabitha Baird who at the beginning of the story finds herself having to start at a new school and get used to living in her Gran's house with her mum and younger brother.  Luckily Tabitha does it all with a smile...most of the time!

This was such a funny, light-hearted and entertaining read.  Arabella Weir has created a fantastically irrepressible character who I enjoyed laughing along with, as well as seeing how she extricates herself from one muddle after another.  You can't help but like Tabitha.  She has a great narrative voice and the book is told in diary style so we get to hear all about her misadventures, both at school and at home.

I liked the fact that although she has some big adjustments going on in her life, she is a pretty positive and upbeat person.  Her Dad's no longer living with them because he's an alcoholic but she still tries to give him a chance, even when things start to go wrong.  There's a good mix in the book of more serious matters, as well as plenty of humour which I think readers will enjoy.

I have to admit that I adored Basil too, her Gran's westie dog, who is always being made to wear ridiculous knitted outfits.  Luckily Basil comes in handy when Tabitha comes across a gorgeous boy also out dog walking which leads to her trying to engineer a proper meeting.

Luckily, there is set to be another book in the series called 'The Endless Trials of Tabitha Baird' which I'm sure will have me laughing out loud as much as this one did.      

Monday, 6 October 2014

Review: The Fall - Bethany Griffin

The Fall by Bethany Griffin, published by Orion Children's Books on 2nd October 2014 

Goodreads synopsis:
Madeline and her twin brother Roderick have the Usher name, the Usher house - and the Usher disease. Something is wrong with the family's blood - and it seems to have spread to the house itself. Sometimes Madeline even thinks that the house is alive... When Roderick is sent away to school, the house seems to want revenge on the one member of the Usher family left behind: Madeline herself.

This book is a retelling of Edgar Allen Poe's 'The Fall of the House of Usher'.  I wasn't familiar at all with the original so I really had no idea how the story was going to unfold and after the fantastic opening which had me hook, line and sinker, I was prepared for anything to happen!

The story involves twins Madeline and Roderick Usher, who are inflicted with a curse which has blighted the lives of all Ushers before them.  When Roderick is sent away to school, Madeline is left alone in the house which seems determined to have it's revenge on her.

Bethany Griffin's personification of the house was excellent.  It seemed to ooze maleficence and evil appeared to seep through the walls and floorboards.  It was extremely creepy and incredibly atmospheric.  It's certainly not a house that I would want to spend the night in.

The narrative structure was unusual and made the story a little difficult to follow at times.  Madeline recounts events but each chapter jumps around to when she is at a different age.  This meant that the plot unfolded at a slow pace.  Because of this I found that my attention wandered in the middle and as it's a fairly long book, I kept waiting for something more to happen. 

Deliciously gothic and mysterious, I was puzzled by some aspects of the story but wanted to keep reading because I felt like the payoff at the end was going to be worth it.  I won't give anything away apart from to say that this is a book which will keep you thinking long after the final pages.  I'm still not sure that I have everything straight in my head!  I'd like to read Poe's original story now as well, so that I can compare the two.  

If you're a fan of the gothic and the bizarre then I would recommend that you give 'The Fall' a read.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Review: Day 21 - Kass Morgan

Day 21 by Kass Morgan, published by Hodder on 25th September 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
It's been 21 days since The 100 landed on Earth. They're the only humans to set foot on the planet in centuries... or so they thought. Facing an unknown enemy, Wells attempts to keep the group together. Clarke strikes out for Mount Weather, in search of other Colonists, while Bellamy is determined to rescue his sister, no matter the cost. And back on the ship, Glass faces an unthinkable choice between the love of her life and life itself.

I am a huge fan of The 100 television series and an even bigger fan of the original book on which the show is based so I was extremely eager to get stuck into the sequel.  I devoured it in one evening and enjoyed it immensely.  Kass Morgan has kept the pace fast, the plot intriguing and the characters interesting and I enjoyed this one as much, if not more than the original.  If like me, you are hooked on the show then I would definitely recommend getting your hands on the books.

It's twenty-one days since the hundred landed on earth and they have discovered that they are not alone.  As the characters struggle to get along together and survive in their new environment, there is an even bigger threat to their safety lurking on the periphery. 

The narrative once again alternates between Glass, Clarke, Wells and Bellamy.  I love all four characters and I enjoyed getting to see their differing perspectives on events.  Wells has always been one of my favourites and I liked him even more this time around as he tries to be a strong leader to the rest of the group. Glass really grew on me too and I was gripped to her part of the story which takes place back in space.  The people who remain behind on the ships are in even more danger than the hundred but I thought that Glass handled the threat with real courage and bravery.  She is determined that nothing will come between her and Luke and is willing to fight for their love. 

I really liked the introduction of some new faces too, particularly Sasha who Wells gets on with extremely well.  I was never keen on the love triangle between him, Clarke and Bellamy, so I'm glad Kass Morgan has introduced another female to the mix.        

'Day 21' was sheer brilliance and definitely got me out of my reading slump.  The only problem is that because it was so fantastic, I ended up reading it really quickly and now have a long wait for the next instalment.  I'm going to be on tenterhooks until then! 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Read the first chapter of Half Bad by Sally Green

If you loved 'Half Blood' by Sally Green then you will be very excited by the news that Penguin have released the first chapter of the sequel 'Half Wild' to keep fans going until it's release in March 2015.

Penguin have also announced an exciting new short story by Green today. Half Lies is due for release across all digital book platforms on 13 November. Set in the months before Half Bad, Half Lies takes the form of a diary written by Michele, the sister of Gabriel, Nathan’s Black witch friend. Having fled Europe for Florida, Michele falls in love with a local White witch boy. There, she finds that the divide between the Black and White witch communities is just as dangerous as it was in the life she's left behind.

Ben Horslen, Editorial Director, Puffin Books says: 'Fan response to Half Bad has been so overwhelming that it seemed very unfair to keep readers on tenterhooks until March for their next taste of Sally Green's amazing world. I know Half Lies will thrill and intrigue her fans while they wait for the next chapter of Nathan's story.'

Sally Green says: 'Gabriel is a key character in the Half Bad trilogy and he also happens to be the one I'm desperately in love with (I know a lot of fans are rather fond of him too) so it was great to write a little more about his life. Half Lies is the story of Gabriel and his sister Michele, told from Michele's point of view. Of course it's not a totally happy story, there's love but there's violence too, but they are Black witches so what do you expect?'

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Blog Tour: After - Anna Todd

Today I'm taking part in the blog tour for Anna Todd's Wattpad sensation 'After' which is now being published in print by Simon and Schuster.  Read on for my review.

Goodreads synopsis:
There was the time before Tessa met Hardin, and then there’s everything AFTER... Life will never be the same. Tessa is a good girl with a sweet, reliable boyfriend back home. She’s got direction, ambition, and a mother who’s intent on keeping her that way. But she’s barely moved into her freshman dorm when she runs into Hardin. With his tousled brown hair, cocky British accent, tattoos, and lip ring, Hardin is cute and different from what she’s used to. But he’s also rude—to the point of cruelty, even.

For all his attitude, Tessa should hate Hardin. And she does—until she finds herself alone with him in his room.  Despite the reckless way he treats her, Tessa is compelled to dig deeper and find the real Hardin beneath all his lies. He pushes her away again and again, yet every time she pushes back, he only pulls her in deeper.

Tessa already has the perfect boyfriend. So why is she trying so hard to overcome her own hurt pride and Hardin’s prejudice about nice girls like her? Unless…could this be love?

'After' by Anna Todd originally started out as a Wattpad sensation.  It's now appearing in print for the very first time and as soon as I heard about it I couldn't wait to start reading it.  It sounded like exactly the kind of book that I usually love.

The first book in a series, the story follows teenager Anna who is starting college and finally getting out from under the eagle eye of her controlling mother.  Anna is extremely innocent and quite naive about some things.  She doesn't know what to think about Hardin when they first meet, especially considering he is so rude and at times pretty cruel towards her. But there's a fine line between love and hate and Anna seems to be straddling the two.

There were aspects of this book that I did like but I thought that the story was quite slow at the beginning and the plot felt like one that I'd read before. I wanted to see more of Anna's college life and her experience of settling in and making new friends but instead she seemed far too consumed by her relationship with Hardin to invest time in anything else. Considering the way in which he talks to her and treats her I found it hard to understand why she was quite so obsessed with him and willing to put up with his behaviour. She makes a lot of excuses for him.

Hardin was a difficult character to like. Because I didn't really warm to him at all, It was hard to become fully invested in the romance between him and Anna. He uses her inexperience to keep her close and almost expects her to read his mind at times. I kept waiting for that one big redeeming moment when I would finally fall head over heels for Hardin and realise that he had a heart of gold after all but it never came. There is a big revelation about his family and his past near the end of the book and while I felt sympathy for him and what he had gone through, for me, it didn't excuse the way in which he had acted towards Anna.

I'm interested enough in the story to wonder what will happen next so I will be checking out the next instalment in the trilogy, but I really, really hope that Hardin's personality develops because Anna deserves better.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Review: Famous in Love - Rebecca Serle

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle, published by Macmillan Children's Books on 23rd October 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Paige doesn't think she's particularly special, but after getting the starring role in a massive film adaptation of the bestselling Locked trilogy, the rest of the world would disagree. Now she's thrown into the spotlight, and into a world of gossip, rumour and deceit. The only people who know what she's going through are her two male co-stars, and they can't stand the sight of each other. Paige knows it's a mistake to fall in love on the set of a movie, but days of on-screen romance and intensity start to change her mind. The question is, can she keep what happens behind the scenes a secret when the world is watching her every move?

This book made me instantly think of what it might have been like behind the scenes on the Twilight films, as we get to see how the relationships and romances play out between the three leads on a remote Hawaiin film set.

Paige Townsen is plucked from obscurity to be the lead in the latest YA book to movie adaptation.  On the set she's caught between the gorgeous Rainer and the inexplicable attraction she feels for the enigmatic Jordan.  If you love Young Hollywood then you will enjoy 'Famous in Love' which explores this world in depth, showcasing the real day to day life of the actors away from the glitz and glamour of magazine shoots and red carpet premieres. 

I was a bit fed-up of the fact that yet again this book features another love triangle but it was written really well, even if I found it quite easy to make my mind up about the two boys from the very start.  I couldn't quite understand how Paige found herself quite so torn between the two of them.  The story isn't only about romance however.  It's also about Paige being on her own for the first time away from her family and how she adjusts to her new-found independence.  Her relationship with her friends is also shifting and changing and she's having to find her feet in a world which is alien to her.

I enjoyed Rebecca Serle's writing style and I like the way that she really gets inside her characters' heads.  The only thing that spoilt this book slightly for me was the ending.  It wasn't how I wanted the book to finish and even though I think I understand what the outcome was, I'm actually not entirely sure (if anyone else has read it and wants to chat about it, let me know!).   

If you're intrigued about the book which is being made into a film as part of the storyline of 'Famous in Love' then good news, you can read an e-novella of 'Locked'.  I'm intrigued enough about it that I think I will be taking a look. 

Monday, 22 September 2014

Review: The Baking Life of Amelie Day - Vanessa Curtis

The Baking Life of Amelie Day by Vanessa Curtis, published by Curious Fox on 11th September 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Amelie Day loves to bake - cupcakes, biscuits, bread, tarts and muffins - so she's thrilled when she's invited to compete in Britain's Best Teen Baker of the Year. But Amelie has Cystic Fibrosis and some days she can barely breathe. Determined not to let her condition or her mum stop her, Amelie musters all her flour power, but will it be enough to get her there?

'The Baking Life of Amelie Day' is a delectable read!  Be prepared for this book to give you an insane craving for cupcakes and a desire to rush out to your kitchen and make lots of other scrumptious home-baked goodies.

This is a middle-grade book but it's one that I think just about everyone will adore, even older readers.  Although the story is about a girl with cystic fibrosis, this isn't revealed until a few chapters in and even then Amelie informs the reader in a very matter of fact way.  She doesn't let herself be defined by her illness and indeed I'd say that the book is much more about her love of all things baked rather than about the illness which she tries not to allow to control her life.  When she is chosen to take part in the Teen Baker of the Year competition, she desperately wants the opportunity to go but she has a lot more hurdles than the other competitors to contend with first.

I thought that Amelie was a wonderful character and this was a truly fantastic read.  I was hooked from the very beginning as Amelie struggles to lead a normal life and embrace her all-consuming passion for baking.  She is never more happy than when she's in the kitchen dreaming up a new recipe and that is something that I can definitely identify with!

What I really loved about this book was the inclusion of some of Amelie's recipes which I will definitely be having a go at making.  I especially want to try her orange polenta muffins and chocolate cupcakes which both sound delicious. 

I have all my fingers and toes crossed that Vanessa Curtis is planning a follow-up book because I would absolutely love to read more about Amelie and find out what happens to her next.  If this book was a cake it would be the best one you'd ever tasted!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Review: The Iron Trial - Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare, published by Doubleday on 11th September 2014

Goodreads synopsis:
Twelve-year-old Callum Hunt has grown up knowing three rules by heart. Never trust a magician. Never pass a test a magician gives you. And never let a magician take you to the Magisterium.

Call is about to break all the rules. And when he does, his life will change in ways he can't possibly imagine.

A double team offering from bestselling authors Cassandra Clare and Holly Black.  I've never read anything by the latter before but I love Cassandra Clare so I was dying to get my hands on this book which sounded brilliant.

It's the first in a new five book series which will follow the main character Call through each year of his life at the Magisterium.  Callum Hunt, or Call as he is known, reluctantly enters the Magisterium against the wishes of his father.  He must learn to hone his magical skills and abilities, even though he has always been told that magic is dangerous and must never be used. 

I loved seeing life at the school.  Everything from the training lessons, to the friendships which are formed between Call, Aaron and Tamera, to the magical foods and challenging tests were a treat to read about.  It was also great to see Call gradually embracing his magical gifts and learning more about his past, as he becomes someone at the Magisterium that the others can begin to rely. 

There is a brilliant twist near the end which was very unexpected but definitely changed some of my opinions about the characters and the direction of the series in an extremely positive way.  I'm excited to see what will happen to Call and his friends next.     

Yes, there are similarities to Harry Potter but so what.  It didn't bother me at all.  This is still a fantastically entertaining and magical read which I really enjoyed and which swept me away for a couple of hours while I became totally immersed in the intrigues of the plot and the struggles of the characters. 

The second book in the series is due for release in 2015 and I for one will be first in the queue to get a copy. 

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.        
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