Thursday, 31 March 2016

Review: When We Collided - Emery Lord

When We Collided by Emery Lord, published by Bloomsbury on 7th April 2016

Goodreads synopsis:
Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi's zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there's something important Vivi hasn't told him.

This is the second book I’ve read by Emery Lord. The first was ‘Open Road Summer’ which I thoroughly enjoyed so I was looking forward to more of the same. The first thing I realised is that ‘When We Collided’ is very, very different. It deals with some heavy themes and the feel of the book is much more serious. Mental health is a big issue in the story. This is something which I don’t think is explored enough in YA novels, so a big hurrah to Emery Lord for showcasing this in her book. The main character Vivi is bipolar and is still trying to come to grips with this. We know that something happened in her past which she doesn’t want to talk about, but it’s not revealed what this is until near the end. Vivi has glorious highs and terrible lows but she is learning to manage on a day to day basis. What’s most important to her though is that she is able to feel, rather than have her emotions blunted.

When she and her mother move to Verona Cove, she meets local boy Jonah who will literally make you swoon. He’s cute, he’s kind and he bakes. What more could you ask for?! Jonah is dealing with his own problems when Vivi comes into his life. He is helping to take care of his siblings and his grieving mother, as well as trying to figure out what he wants to do next. The two are almost complete opposites but are also just what the other is looking for. Their relationships helps them to make more sense of their lives. Whereas I loved Jonah on sight, I’ll admit that it took much longer for me to warm up to Vivi. She is pretty full on when we first meet her and I didn’t necessarily find her impulsiveness appealing at the start. I did however think that her character was depicted really well. Although I didn’t want to make her my instant new best friend, Lord has done a good job of presenting her. She flares brightly and then burns out – an accurate depiction of the highs and lows that she experiences.

Each chapter alternates between the narrative of Vivi and Jonah. Jonah’s chapters were my favourite! I loved seeing his huge family and the way he looked after his younger siblings. He has had to take on a huge amount of responsibility after the death of his father, but he is doing a great job holding everything together. At times, I wasn’t sure if Vivi really was the best thing for him, but I’d changed my mind by the end.

‘When We Collided’ was a different book to the one I was expecting. It dealt with a difficult subject matter but in a positive way. It showed that even people struggling with mental health issues, can still experience life to the full. I wish that I had liked Vivi more, as this would be my only fault with the book, but I’m sure there are a lot of readers who will love her attitude to life. I really enjoy Emery Lord’s writing and I will definitely be looking out for more by her in the future.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Review: Jolly Foul Play - Robin Stevens

Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens, published by Puffin on 24th March 2016

Goodreads synopsis:
Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong have returned to Deepdean for a new school term, but nothing is the same. There's a new Head Girl, Elizabeth Hurst, and a team of Prefects - and these bullying Big Girls are certainly not good eggs.

Then, after the fireworks display on Bonfire Night, Elizabeth is found - murdered.

Many girls at Deepdean had reason to hate Elizabeth, but who might have committed such foul play? Could the murder be linked to the secrets and scandals, scribbled on scraps of paper, that are suddenly appearing around the school? And with their own friendship falling to pieces, how will Daisy and Hazel solve this mystery?

I was beyond excited to start reading ‘Jolly Foul Play’ by Robin Stevens. I’ve been on a bit of a crime kick lately and this series is one of the best. Wells and Wong return to investigate another crime, but this time they have their friends on hand for assistance. The setting of the book is glorious. Deepdean Boarding School is their home away from home. It’s the place where they can enjoy midnight feasts and tuck boxes filled to the brim with an assortment of sweet treats. It’s also, unfortunately, the scene of the crime. I love, no make that adore, stories which are set in boarding schools, so I was really pleased to see Robin Stevens revisiting the place where Hazel and Daisy’s detective society adventures first started.

A lot has happened since those early days. The two girls have solved crime in Daisy’s own home, as well as on board the Orient Express. They have formed a close bond, which this time is tested by another of Hazel’s friendships. Can they still manage to stick together through thick and thin to bring justice to Deepdean? It was interesting to see friction developing between the girls. They are very different characters but their personality traits have always worked well to complement each other. Hazel often has to take a bit of a backseat to Daisy who is more impulsive and headstrong but she has her own unique gifts which often have helped them to crack a case open. Although they are my two favourites, I really enjoyed getting to see their other friends become involved in helping them with the mystery too. Beanie is so sweet and good and Kitty and Lavinia are great side-kicks to have. They all have an important role to play in catching the guilty party.

As the story unravels, all the clues are laid out for the reader to follow. One of the things I enjoy the most is seeing if I can piece everything together and come up with my own theory about what happened and who was involved. Sometimes, I’m right but usually I’m way off the mark. It doesn’t matter though, it’s all part of the fun! There are lots of twists and turns and red herrings as the gang try to eliminate suspects one by one. As Society secretary, Hazel keeps comprehensive notes of the case and these always make great reading, as well as being extremely helpful.

Robin Stevens has done it again with another truly fantastic instalment of the Murder Most Unladylike series. I cannot get enough of these books and seeing the way the story ended, I have a feeling that the next one is going to be another rollicking ride. I can’t wait to join Hazel and Daisy again!          

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Review: Rebel of the Sands - Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, published by Faber on 4th February 2016

Goodreads synopsis:
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there's nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can't wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up "wed or dead," Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she'd gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan's army, with a fugitive who's wanted for treason. And she'd never have predicted she'd fall in love with him...or that he'd help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

This is the first in a trilogy by debut author Alwyn Hamilton.  I wanted to love it so much!  The pre-publicity buzz has been stellar and it sounded exactly like the sort of story that I usually enjoy - a YA story with a strong female character at its centre, magical djinnis, a desert setting and an epic romance.  It should have knocked me off my feet...but sadly it didn't.

I know so many other readers have enjoyed this book, so I think that I'm among the minority that didn't.  The first chapter got off to a great start and thinks were looking good, but it didn't push on from there.  I found that the first half was extremely slow, there were too many fantasy elements layered together and I failed to feel any romantic sparks at all between the two leads. 

The main character Amani, wants to escape her home of Dustwalk and the fate that awaits her there.  She is tough and fierce and determined to find a new life for herself whatever it takes.  Set in the swirling desert, Amani flees with a mysterious foreigner by her side.  Danger and adventure lie ahead of them. 

Sadly, although the premise sounds great, fantastic in fact, this one just wasn't for me.  It promised so much but failed to deliver the knockout punch that I was looking for.  Admittedly, it did pick up a little right at the end, but I'm not sure that I have much interest at all in reading the sequel.   

Monday, 7 March 2016

Review: The Power - Jennifer L. Armentrout

The Power by Jennifer L. Armentrout, published by Hodder and Stoughton on 25 February 2016

Goodreads synopsis:
The Covenant University has become the frontline for the escalating violence between pure-bloods and half-bloods. War between the races seems inevitable, and it couldn't come at a worse time. Seth must prepare Josie for battle, which means teaching her how to control her newfound demigod abilities...and they need to find and rescue the other demigods before their enemies - the Titans - find them first.

Only one thing is more dangerous than a bunch of starved Titans, and that's an out-of-control Apollyon in the form of Seth. The aether in Josie is drawing Seth in deeper, and when lust mixes with love and gives way to power, he knows being close to her is becoming explosively dangerous. But letting her go requires a level of selflessness that just isn't Seth's style.

When the danger from the Titans erupts with devastating consequences, the dark allure of power calls to Seth again - but this time, Josie may not be able to pull him back from the brink...

This is the second book in the Titan series, centered around Seth, the Apollyon and demigod Josie.  'The Power' continues their story and charts the growing romance between them.  Let me tell you, the romantic scenes in this instalment are off the charts!  If you like kisses that sizzle and chemistry that absolutely crackles, then you will love this book.  It's definitely aimed at a New Adult readership, as Josie and Seth become closer than ever before and toy with taking their relationship to the next level.  There are some very steamy scenes indeed.  Swoon!  Seth however, wants to do the right thing by Josie, which doesn't include giving into his urge to feed from her aether.

I loved Seth so much in this book!  He is really sweet, even when he's not trying to be.  I love the fact that he's totally astounded by the fact that anyone could actually have fallen in love with him - and that innocence is so appealing.  The plot swirls around the two of them, as Josie tries to control her new found abilities and Seth attempts to train her in their quest to rescue the other demigods. 

I wasn't sure that any couple could compare to Kat and Daemon from Armentrout's Lux series, but Josie and Seth come pretty close.  Steam was practically coming off the pages of my book at times!

This was a fantastic read which I devoured in one sitting.  I don't think I'll be able to stand the wait for the next in the series.  It's just so good, that you need to get your hands on a copy pronto.      
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