Thursday, 28 January 2016

Review: Front Lines - Michael Grant

Front Lines by Michael Grant, published by Electric Monkey on 28th January 2016

Goodreads synopsis:
1942. The fate of the world rests on a knife’s edge. And the soldiers who can tip the balance . . . are girls.

Set in an alternate World War II where young women are called up to fight alongside men, this is the story of Rio Richlin and her friends as they go into battle against Hitler’s forces.

But not everyone believes that they should be on the front lines. Now Rio and her friends must fight not only to survive, but to prove their courage and ingenuity. Because the fate of the world is in the hands of the soldier girls.
'Front Lines' has such an innovative storyline.  Michael Grant has imagined an alternative history where girls enlisted and fought on the front line during World War Two.  Joining their male counterparts, they protect their country against attack.  Uniquely different, this made for a plot which piqued my interest as soon as I read it.  I couldn't wait to see how Grant's spin was going to unravel.
Set in 1942, the story follows three girls as they go to war.  We initially see them at home with their families, understanding their motives for enlisting, before following them through rigorous training and all the way to the front line.  They have a lot to contend with along the way as they try to prove their worth.
I enjoyed 'Front Lines' and I think YA readers will too.  Although the subject matter might initially seem male orientated, because the central characters are all girls, I think this will appeal equally to female readers.  If you are a history buff then you need to get your hands on this title which provides such a unique and different spin on events.  Who would ever have thought of imagining girls as soldiers?  Michael Grant, that's who. 
I still haven't found any of his books quite as gripping and addictive as the Gone series, but this is still a great read and as the first in a new trilogy, it will be interesting to see what is in store for readers next.   

Monday, 25 January 2016

Review: My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, published by Electric Monkey on 8th January 2016

Goodreads synopsis:
The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

I love contemporary YA but I don't often come across many books in this genre which tick every box.  'My Life Next Door' is one of those titles which has everything I look for and more.  A great central character (okay, I may be slightly bias because we share the same name), a sweet romance with the boy next door which I thought was genuinely realistic and well written, the boy in question being gorgeous and kind (Jace, be mine!) and a punchy storyline with a good twist at the end.

What I particularly liked about this book was how brilliantly Huntley Fitzpatrick portrays the wonderful Garrett family.  With seven children, the Garrett's home is messy and noisy and chaotic but there is a genuine sense of love and homeliness which Samantha lacks in her own house which is clean and well ordered.  I couldn't fail to be enveloped into the Garrett's world.  All the children are great but I have a soft spot for four year old George, who has some of the funniest lines in the book.  He's such a sweetie. 

The romance between Sam and Jace is at the heart of the book and wonderfully captures all the emotions and ups and downs of first love.  It was perfectly balanced, depicting all of those lovely first moments and brilliantly portrayed.  I loved them together and enjoyed the fact that for once, Jace was genuinely just such a good guy.  He had no deep, dark secrets or bad boy streak, he was just sweet and funny and kind to his siblings. 

There is an interesting twist near the end which took me by surprise and I originally I wasn't sure if it was in keeping with the rest of the plot.  However, once I'd had time to think about it I thought that it worked well to show that even couples who get on well together, still have to overcome bumps in the road. 

I would implore everyone to read 'My Life Next Door'.  You won't be disappointed.  I can't wait for 'What I Thought Was True' and 'The Boy Most Likely To' which are published by Electric Monkey and published in the UK later this year.    

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Review: See How They Run - Ally Carter

See How They Run by Ally Carter, published by Orchard on 14th January 2016

Goodreads synopsis:
Grace thought finding her mother's killer would bring her peace. But the truth has only made her a target. on Embassy Row, trust is a luxury. Death is a very real threat. And a girl like Grace should be very careful about which secrets she brings to light...

'See How They Run' is the second book in the Embassy Row series and a fantastic read to kick off 2016!  What a brilliant and gripping sequel to last year's 'All Fall Down'.  Grace is still struggling with the secret she uncovered about her mother's death and there are plenty more surprises lying in wait for her. 

The plot was really thrilling.  Grace has to come to the rescue of handsome boy next door Alexei when trouble comes calling and he's accused of something he didn't do.  She's not a girl to back down from a fight and even though she is dealing with her own traumas, she won't let him go it alone.  I thought Ally Carter did a terrific job of keeping the story moving along swiftly, ensuring that I had to keep on and on reading.  This is definitely a book that you will have to finish in one sitting.

I absolutely love the unique setting of this series.  Embassy Row is full of political intrigue and conspiracy and it adds an additional element to the story that the countries are trying to avoid an international incident.  It means that when Grace comes barrelling in, you know there is going to be trouble ahead.

Grace is not the easiest character to get to know and she is dealing with a lot of issues, but I find myself liking her more and more.  I have my fingers crossed that her and Alexei might finally pair up because I think they would make a great couple.

The ending was a real jaw dropper and I can't believe the curveball that Ally Carter has thrown in.  How Grace deals with such an incredible revelation will be very interesting to see.  I think it could change the whole dynamic of the series from here on in. 

Monday, 11 January 2016

Review: The Vanishing Throne - Elizabeth May

The Vanishing Throne by Elizabeth May, published by Gollancz on 19th November 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
Aileana took a stand against the Wild Hunt, and she lost everything: her home, her family and her friends. Held captive by her enemy, and tormenting herself over her failure, escape seems like only the faintest possibility. But when she gets her chance, she seizes it . . . to rejoin a world devastated by war.

The future is bleak. Hunted by the fae, running for her life, Aileana has only a few options left. Trying to become part of a society scarred by – and hiding from – the Wild Hunt; trusting that a fragile alliance with the fae will save her; or walking the most dangerous path at all: coming in to her own powers as the last of the Falconers . . .

This is the book that I had been waiting all year to read.  The sequel to the phenomenal 'The Falconer' which was an absolutely five star read, I was over the moon to finally get my hands on a copy and I wouldn't wait to see what lay in store for Alieana and her friends next.  Plus, look at that awesome cover!  Who wouldn't want to pick this book up and dive straight in?!

After the events of the previous book, Alieana is seen at the beginning of the story in the hands of her enemy, Lonnrach.  The opening chapter plunged me straight back into Alieana's world, where everything is at stake and the fight for survival is all that matters.  There is a lot to absorb at the start of the story and I had to remind myself about what had happened previously but it didn't take me long to catch-up with the main plot points.   

One of the things I love about the series is Elizabeth May's characterisations.  Alieana is a truly brilliant heroine.  She is brave, determined, stubborn and a true fighter.  You know that she will never give up.  I really liked the relationship between her and Kiaran in 'The Falconer' and I was excited to see that develop further.  I am also Derrick the pixie's number one fan.  I loved the scenes with him and these are among my favourite in the book.  I thought that the introduction of Kiaran's sister Aithinne was also fantastic, as she is so interesting and intriguing with lots of hidden sides.

More is revealed about Alieana's enemies' true purpose and about Kiaran's past.  The ending left me on the edge of my seat and it's going to be a long and unbearable wait until the next book in the series. 

Exciting, fast-paced and compulsive reading.  Utterly impossible to put down, this is one of the best books I've read in the past year. 

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Review: Oblivion - Jennifer L. Armentrout

Oblivion by Jennifer L. Armentrout, published by Hodder on 3rd December 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
I knew the moment Katy Swartz moved in next door, there was going to be trouble. Lots of it. And trouble’s the last thing I need, since I’m not exactly from around here. My people arrived on Earth from Lux, a planet thirteen billion light years away. Plus, if there’s one thing I know, it’s that humans can’t be trusted. We scare them. We can do things they only dream about, and honestly, we make them look weak as hell. ‘Cuz they are.

But Kat is getting to me in ways no one else has, and I can't stop myself from wanting her—or wanting to use my powers to protect her. She makes me weak, and I’m the strongest of our kind, tasked with protecting us all. So this one simple girl…she can mean the end for us. Because the Luxen have an even bigger enemy—the Arum, and I need to stay on my game.

Falling for Katy—a human—won't just place her in danger. It could get us all killed, and that’s one thing I’ll never let happen...

This book is 'Obsidian' retold from the point of view of Daemon Black.  You would think that the story itself would be a bit repetitive for anyone that has already read the Lux series, but I can guarantee you that it is not in the slightest.  In fact, seeing everything again but through Daemon's eyes this time, added an extra layer to the romance between himself and Katy.  Where she sees him behaving like a jerk, being hot one minute and cold towards her the next, the reader sees him doing it to protect not only his sister Dee, but Katy too.  He is determined to fight his feelings for her to keep her safe, but they are continually drawn to each other. 

If you haven't read 'Obsidian' and this is your first introduction to the Lux series, then it would work perfectly well to read this one and then carry on with the rest of the books in the series.  I don't think anyone would be able to resist getting caught up in the undeniable attraction and chemistry between Daemon and Katy.  Sparks most definitely fly between them whenever they are anywhere near each other.  It was also interesting to see how his perception of her changes as he gets to know her.  His initial reaction that she is entirely average evolves very quickly.

What really came across was how much responsibility Daemon shoulders but also how there was never any doubt about his feelings for Katy.  It seems almost inevitable that he was never going to be able to stay away from her for long, although he does his best to fight it.

I loved 'Oblivion' so much!  I'm a massive Jennifer L. Armentrout fan and this series is one of my favourites.  It was lovely getting to revisit all the characters and I fell for the romance all over again.  This is yet another stunning five star book in the series. 

Monday, 4 January 2016

Review: Unforgiven - Lauren Kate

Unforgiven by Lauren Kate, published by Corgi on 12th November 2015

Goodreads synopsis:
High school can be hell.

Cam knows what it’s like to be haunted. He’s spent more time in Hell than any angel ever should. And his freshest Hell is high school, where Lilith, the girl he can’t stop loving, is serving out a punishment for his crimes.

Cam made a bet with Lucifer: he has fifteen days to convince the only girl who really matters to him to love him again. If he succeeds, Lilith will be allowed back into the world, and they can live their lives together. But if he fails…there’s a special place in Hell just for him.

This is the book that all Cam fans will have been waiting for.  If you love a bad boy then Cam will have definitely caught your eye from his frequent appearances in the Fallen novels.  While the latter books were focused on the eternal love affair between Luce and Daniel, Cam was the mysterious angel with a secret heartbreak that I wanted to see more of.  He was always there in the background, although the details of his story were never revealed.  Until now.  Finally, Cam's story is unravelled in the brilliant 'Unforgiven'.

Cam and Lilith's past is gradually revealed in a series of flashbacks, while in the present he has to try and rescue Lilith from an eternal hell that she has been trapped in since they last parted.  I really enjoyed the plot of 'Unforgiven'.  It was well paced, the story kept me gripped and intrigued and I couldn't wait to see if Cam was going to win back the heart of the only girl he had ever loved.  I was also interested to see what had really happened when the two were torn apart. 

It was lovely getting to see Cam in an entirely new light.  A softer, more gentle side to him was revealed and one where he is selfless and interested only in helping Lilith, even if it means sacrificing himself.  I loved Cam and I really liked Lilith too.  I think I appreciated them as a couple, even more than Luce and Daniel.  Although Lilith is trapped in hell, I enjoyed seeing her beginning to open up and embrace her love of music which in turn leads to her opening herself to Cam and letting him back into her life and her heart.

I have had a bumpy relationship with Lauren Kate's Teardrop saga but she has a definite winner with this book.  It was fabulous and Fallen fans should definitely go out and get their hands on a copy.  You won't be disappointed!   

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year readers!  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and found lots of bookish presents in your stockings and under the tree. 

I actually only had one book for Christmas this year but it is one that I've been desperate to read as I'm such a huge fan of the series.  'Winter' is the concluding instalment of the Lunar Chronicles and I've been eager to find out how things are going to end for all the characters.

Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?
Drop me a comment and let me know if you had any exciting books for Christmas. 
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