Category Archives: Reviews

Book Review: Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

October 15, 2015

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Extraordinary Means by Robyn SchneiderExtraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider
on 4th June 2015
Pages: 336
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
four-stars
A bitter-sweet, coming-of-age novel that's perfect for fans of John Green and Stephen Chbosky.

When he's sent to Latham House, a boarding school for sick teens, Lane thinks his life may as well be over.
But when he meets Sadie and her friends - a group of eccentric troublemakers - he realises that maybe getting sick is just the beginning. That illness doesn't have to define you, and that falling in love is its own cure.

Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about true friendships, ill-fated love and the rare miracle of second chances

As I write this review, I’m sitting on my lunch break. I finished Extraordinary Means an hour ago, and I still feel like someone’s punched me very hard in the stomach. When I started reading this, I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with Extraordinary Means. I didn’t think I would connect with the characters. I underestimated Schneider’s ability to make me fall in love with them.

It’s not difficult to imagine such a thing as total drug resistant TB. And Schneider did such a fantastic job at making it seem so real. I can imagine somewhere like Latham House existing. And I can imagine how society would react to those staying there. And Schneider captures this perfectly. It could be easy to forget what these teens are going through, but Schneider makes sure that we don’t. And that’s important. It’s remembering why these teens are at Latham that makes Extraordinary Means so powerful.

I flitted between liking Sadie and Lane and not feeling much towards them at all. I’ve read books with characters similar to these two, and despite their individualities that set them apart, it was difficult to shake that feeling. I loved how Sadie changed Lane and stopped him from living out the life he thought he should be living. However cliche it is, she did breathe life into Lane’s character, which instantly made me connect to him more. I loved Charlie, so the ending tore me into shreds, but it kind of had to be done. It brought the horrors of their reality back to the forefront of my mind, but it still hurt to read. I loved that whilst the thought of a happy ending was there, Schneider didn’t give it to us all neatly wrapped in a bow. A story like this one shouldn’t end with everyone getting their happily ever after, it’s not realistic.

Extraordinary Means is one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read this year, and certainly a story that will stay with me for a long, long time.

Book Review: One by Sarah Crossan

October 1, 2015

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: One by Sarah CrossanOne by Sarah Crossan
Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books on 27th August 2015
Pages: 448
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
five-stars
Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined…

From Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

I want to rave about this book forever. How I’ve never read a book by Sarah Crossan before is a total mystery, and I’ll definitely be rectifying that soon, as One is an absolutely amazing, emotional read.

One is the first book I’ve read written in free verse, and it is such a beautiful style of writing. I doubt One would have had such an emotional impact on me if it had been written in regular prose, each word in One is written for a reason, it remains descriptive without using extra words just for the sake of it. I found I really got into Grace’s head a lot easier than I expected, and my emotions quickly became linked to the emotions I was reading on the page.

One is probably one of the most emotionally-charged books I’ve read in a very, very long time. As I just said, everything that Grace felt, I felt. Her despair, her hurt, her frustration all hit me very hard. This really surprised me, and it’s made me love Sarah Crossan for getting me to connect to this book and feel these emotions. One is a book that can’t just be read, it needs to be felt.

Everything about this book felt authentic to me, and it’s clear that a lot of research has gone into One. It really felt read, from how Tippi and Grace go about their daily lives to how the rest of society react to them. I liked how they weren’t accepted by the school (sounds strange, but bear with me), they were made to feel like outcasts, which I reckon wouldn’t be too far from the truth in the real world. I really admired Tippi’s integrity. She refuses to allow the media into her family’s lives until it’s absolutely necessary, until they have absolutely no other choice. And she still protected her family as best as she could. The documentary process was wonderful too – limits were made and respected, certain parts of Tippi and Grace’s journey weren’t touched, and that was the end of it. No ifs, buts or maybes.

The ending of One took a slight twist for me. I thought I knew how it would end, but Crossan threw in a tiny curveball and actually made reading the rest of the book quite painful for me. I can’t say anything else without giving things away, but the ending was, and still is, very raw to me.

One is an excellent book. There’s nothing left for me to say.

Book Review: 13 Days of Midnight by Leo Hunt

September 24, 2015

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: 13 Days of Midnight by Leo Hunt13 Days of Midnight by Leo Hunt
Published by Orchard Books on 2nd July 2015
Pages: 224
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
four-stars
When Luke Manchett's estranged father dies suddenly, he leaves his son a dark inheritance. Luke has been left in charge of his father's ghost collection: eight restless spirits. They want revenge for their long enslavement, and in the absence of the father, they're more than happy to take his son. It isn't fair, but you try and reason with the vengeful dead.

Halloween, the night when the ghosts reach the height of their power, is fast approaching. With the help of school witchlet Elza Moss, and his cowardly dog Ham, Luke has just thirteen days to uncover the closely guarded secrets of black magic, and send the unquiet spirits to their eternal rest. The alternative doesn't bear thinking about.

I requested 13 Days of Midnight on a total whim. Something about the book made me drag my cursor over to the request button, and then I promptly forgot about it, which worried me slightly. Until I started reading it.

This is the first book to succeed in totally creeping me out as I was reading it. Leo Hunt managed to suck me into this book so much, that even the slightest creak in the clinic room or whir from my laptop was making me jump. It’s a very dark book, far darker than I expected, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend it to people who aren’t fans of paranormal books!

I loved how Hunt balanced Luke’s desire to fit in with the pressing need for Luke to banish his Host that he unwillingly inherited from his father. There’s a lot of ‘normal’ goings on to counteract the abnormal, which I loved. It made it all the more believable! I loved Elza, she made a refreshing change to the normal love interests of 16-year-old boys. Plus I loved how she took charge of the situation as she knew what she was talking about. And she was so determined! She definitely wasn’t one to just sit about and wait to be attacked. I love how she interacted with Luke, and was gracious enough to apologise when she was wrong.

13 Days of Midnight will be a perfect Halloween read for people who aren’t afraid of things that go ‘bump’ in the night! Am I brave enough to read it alone in the dark? No. But that certainly won’t stop me from recommending this excellent UKYA ghost story to everyone as soon as October comes around!

Book Review: Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

August 6, 2015

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah ThomasBecause You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books on 2nd July 2015
Pages: 344
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
five-stars
In a stunning literary debut, two boys on opposite ends of the world begin an unlikely friendship that will change their lives forever.

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

I’m just going to start this off by saying that this is one of my favourite books of 2015. It needs to be said. Leah Thomas has totally blown me away with this stunning book. I know there’s been some mixed reviews on Goodreads, and that made me a little apprehensive to pick it up because this has been one of my most anticipated reads of this year, but it definitely did not disappoint.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me is told in letters between Ollie and Moritz, two boys who society deem as freaks. Ollie is 14, although I found this hard to remember as he is so switched on and so smart. And he’s allergic to electricity, being close to it can send him spiralling into a life threatening seizure. This isn’t just epilepsy, it’s so much more dangerous. He lives in a log cabin with his mother in the woods. And Moritz is 16, living in Germany with his father. He has a pacemaker fitted, meaning that he and Ollie will never, ever meet. There’s a lot more to Moritz, but I’m not going to share it, as you need to find out for yourself. And so they begin writing to one another. At first, the letters were awkward, with Ollie’s over-enthusiasm sharply contrasting Moritz’s condescendance, but then they suddenly, out of nowhere, become friends. Real, true friends. And it was so heartbreaking to keep reminding myself that they wouldn’t meet.

It almost felt like I was intruding on Ollie and Moritz’s privacy as the letters got so personal, with Ollie having to deal with his mum and the fact that Liz blamed him for something that wasn’t his fault, and Moritz having to deal with horrendous bullying. I’ll be honest, I didn’t like Liz. I thought she was truly awful to Ollie at times. The thing that bugged me the most was when she called Ollie selfish. Because yes, he was. But he didn’t know how to be anything else. He has interacted with a handful of people, he mainly occupies himself. Who wouldn’t be selfish!? Moritz overcame so much thanks to Ollie’s encouragement. He started off as this awful person who was so angry at the world to someone who found people to care for and he cared for them fiercely. He didn’t believe he deserved kindness and good things – but he did. And I’m so glad Ollie made him see that. They helped each other so much, and I loved their friendship.

The ending of Because You’ll Never Meet Me wasn’t my favourite, but I understand it. It was sad, yet hopeful, and made me wish for a bright future for both Ollie and Moritz. At times it wasn’t hugely realistic – but – that is somewhat explained by Moritz – he says himself that he could be overexaggerating. And parts of it were traumatising to read, but not that far from the truth in some awful world, I imagine.

I can only implore you to pick Because You’ll Never Meet Me up. It’s a touching story about friendship, and a stark reminder about how society treats those who aren’t seen as ‘normal’. I loved every page of this wonderful book, and cannot wait to get my own copy for my bookcase.

Book Review: The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

July 30, 2015

Book Review: The Truth About Forever by Sarah DessenThe Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
Published by Puffin on 1st May 2008
Pages: 391
Source: Bought Physical Copy
Goodreads
five-stars
Sixteen-year-old Macy Queen is looking forward to a long, boring summer. Her boyfriend is going away. She's stuck with a dull-as-dishwater job at the library. And she'll spend all of her free time studying for the SATs or grieving silently with her mother over her father's recent unexpected death. But everything changes when Macy is corralled into helping out at one of her mother's open house events, and she meets the chaotic Wish Catering crew. Before long, Macy joins the Wish team. She loves everything about, the work and the people. But the best thing about Wish is Wes—artistic, insightful, and understanding Wes—who gets Macy to look at life in a whole new way, and really start living it.

I am so late to the party with this one. So very late. Not that I really care, because hello – this is one of the best contemporaries I have read. Ever.

A lot of people say The Truth About Forever is their favourite Sarah Dessen novel. I can’t pass judgement on that, as I’ve only read Lock & Key  as well, but I will say I can understand why this is such a firm favourite. This book takes so many elements that work well on their own and combines them in a way that’s truly irresistible to read. Dessen’s writing is so fluid and addictive that I couldn’t help but read the entire book in a day which, at the time, was unheard of for me.

Macy is a character who I connected to immediately. It’s so easy to fall into being the person other people want or expect you to be – believe me, I’ve been there, and I could certainly relate to her grief for her father. I hated how her mum shut her out and focused on work instead of grieving with Macy – that’s not fair. If you don’t want to grieve, fine, but don’t act as if grief isn’t allowed by anyone. You cannot be expected to move on if you’re not allowed to grieve, but that’s what her mother seemed to expect and I really, really, didn’t like her for it. Jason was a total idiot, so I’m not even going to mention him.

Wes on the other hand? Wes was exactly was Macy needed. They seem like polar opposites, but they really aren’t and they just worked so well together. It takes a fair amount of time for Wes and Macy to happen, and I found myself internally screaming at them to just get together already! I loved how Macy found herself new friends and stretched her wings in The Truth About Forever, the entire catering team just brought her to life and encouraged her to feel and do what she wants to do for herself. Oh, and the present that her dad left her? I came so close to bawling my eyes out because it was so, so so perfect!

I am so grateful I picked up The Truth About Forever, not only did it put me out of a hideous reading slump, it introduced me to one of the most amazing contemporaries ever. I’m signing myself up to he Sarah Dessen fan club, stat.

Book Review: Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen

July 23, 2015

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. JensenHidden Huntress by Danielle L Jensen
Series: The Malediction Trilogy #2
Published by Angry Robot on 2nd June 2015
Pages: 464
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Sometimes, one must accomplish the impossible.

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

I’m trying to write this review minutes after finishing Hidden Huntress and let me tell you: the feels are strong. Very strong indeed. I honestly thought there was no way I could want book 3, Warrior Witch, more than I wanted Hidden Huntress. I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

Hidden Huntress pretty much drops us where we left Stolen Songbird, although Cecile has now left the forest for Trianon, and is juggling her desire to find Anushka with trying to fill the role her mother has created for her on the stage. And I was hooked almost instantly. It was like I’d never left the world that Jensen had created, and I was surprised over how many of Stolen Songbird’s details had stuck with me.

The plot to this trilogy is so much bigger than I originally expected. I honestly didn’t believe that it would develop much further past Cecile trying to find Anushka, but wow, did I underestimate that! And that’s what I love about fantasy – there’s always a bigger picture, even if you don’t spot it straight away. Hidden Huntress isn’t just the second book in a series. This isn’t a filler book, this is important. Big plot movements happen here, and that’s what made it such a compelling read.

I don’t really want to talk about the book too much as I’m so worried I’ll divulge an accidental spoiler! All I can do is urge you to pick this series up, even if you’re not a huge fantasy fan. The romance between Tristan and Cecile is exquisite, and they’ve fast become one of my favourite couples in YA. These books really offer something for everyone, and that’s why I love them so much. Now just the totally agonising wait for Warrior Witch.

Book Review: Savage Light by Janeal Falor

July 16, 2015

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Savage Light by Janeal FalorSavage Light by Janeal Falor
Published by Chardonian Press on 24th February 2015
Pages: 266
Source: Author
Goodreads
three-stars
Marsa has always struggled with the fact she goes unnoticed. Her best friend is the one chosen to rid the world of all evil; the man Marsa loves barely knows she exists; and her sole remaining family member dies at the hand of the last evil man in the world.

When all evil is finally defeated, Marsa thinks she'll at last have the life she wants, even if her mother isn't there to share it with. And maybe she'll discover the love of her life loves her back. Only a new quest is set before her and her friends. By the end of their journey, Marsa will question everything she knows. She'll have to redefine how she wants others to notice her, before their entire world is destroyed.

It’s no secret that I love Janeal Falor’s writing, so when I was given the opportunity to read Savage Light, I immediately jumped at it. Whilst I didn’t love it as much as I do the Mine series, I did find it incredibly compelling to read.

I have to admit, I didn’t find many of the characters very likeable, particularly Kaylyn and Jorrin. I honestly couldn’t understand why someone who Marsa was so close to would treat her so poorly. And what Kaylyn did to her at the end of the book was truly awful, as I was reading it all I could feel was rage bubbling up inside me. And if I dwell on it now, I still feel the same way! Jorrin wasn’t much better. If he’d been honest with Marsa in the first place about his feelings, I think I would have liked him much more! I did really like Tavo, he was so sweet to Marsa throughout the book, and constantly looked out for her. I just wish she had paid attention to him a lot sooner!

I did find the lack of backstory slightly confusing, as it meant I didn’t really understand the motives behind the Zophas, but I know there’s another book in the series which may explain things a little better? I’m intrigued to see how things pan out for Marsa in the future, and to see how her character develops a bit further.

I found Savage Light to be a really quick read, and provided an interesting perspective on the fight between good and evil, and despite me not particularly liking the majority of the characters, I definitely am anticipating the next book!

Book Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

June 22, 2015

Book Review: The Dream Thieves by Maggie StiefvaterThe Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Boys #2
Published by Scholastic on 5th September 2013
Pages: 450
Source: Bought Physical Copy
Goodreads
five-stars
Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

Immediately after I finished my re-read of The Raven Boys, I dove into The Dream Thieves knowing I needed to get my fix of new Glendower adventures with Blue and her Raven Boys. I honestly didn’t think that it could get better than The Raven Boys, but I was wrong. The Dream Thieves dives deeper into that story, taking us through twists and turns that left my head spinning.

The Dream Thieves takes us further into Ronan’s world, and shows us how dangerous it is for him to be doing what he’s doing. (Vague, but I’m trying to hold back from giving away massive spoilers here!) He’s a very clever person, and The Dream Thieves really highlights that. It also shows an incredibly human side to Ronan, especially in the scenes with The Barns where Ronan grew up. He soon discovers that everything he thought was real, isn’t, and has to deal with that realisation. He finds he’s more like his father than he knew, and he deals with most of this alone, as it Ronan’s way.

Just because this is Ronan’s book doesn’t mean the others aren’t involved. Adam is struggling with what happened at Cabeswater and can’t work out what’s happening to him until Persephone steps in. (Total curveball there, of all the characters I was expecting!) I’m really intrigued to see how Adam’s character grows further in Blue Lily, Lily Blue. I’m expecting big things will be happening to him! And Blue is still Blue. Still being careful. Still helping Gansey trying to find Glendower. There’s a scene between Blue and Noah that literally broke my heart because of the unfairness of it all. Seriously, I was nearly in tears because I just want them both to have happy endings but I don’t think they both will AND I’M NOT OKAY WITH THAT THOUGHT.

The Gray Man was an interesting character. I liked him, even though it feels a little wrong to like a hitman. He’s so complex, and there was way more to him than meets the eye. I was pleased he managed to rid himself from his demons – not that I agree with the way he did it! And I liked his relationship with Maura, it was cute. (Probably the cutest relationship in the book because NO ONE ELSE IS ALLOWED HAPPINESS, CLEARLY. *sobs*)

I honestly didn’t believe I would like The Dream Thieves as much as The Raven Boys, but I honestly did. It helped that I re-read The Raven Boys just prior to reading this one, and I’ll be delving into Blue Lily, Lily Blue very, very soon.

On Re-Reading: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

May 25, 2015

On Re-Reading: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Before you go any further, it might be worth you checking out my original review of The Raven Boys so you can gather more of my feelings for this book. (Just a heads-up: there’s a lot of feelings in that review.)

Do I Still Feel the Same? In a word – yes! Re-reading The Raven Boys was really interesting for me as I picked up on so much more than when I first read the book. There’s a few clues dotted about this book that I only picked up on during this re-read.

I still loved the plot, the characters and the writing just as much as I did the first time. In fact, I felt so much more connected to the characters this time round as I knew them all already. My heart ached for Adam so much more this time, despite knowing what would happen to him and that things would all work out in the end. I was pretty surprised over how much I had forgotten about the story too, so the re-read was really necessary before I dived into The Dream Thieves.

Does my rating still stand? Absolutely! The Raven Boys will always be a 5 Star read for me, because it’s such a unique book, and Maggie Stiefvater’s writing is absolutely exquisite. 

Book Review: Conspiracy Girl by Sarah Alderson

May 20, 2015

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Conspiracy Girl by Sarah AldersonConspiracy Girl by Sarah Alderson
Published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books on 12th February 2015
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Goodreads
four-stars
Everybody knows about the Cooper Killings – the Bel Air home invasion that rocked the nation.
There was only one survivor - a sixteen year-old girl.
And though the killers were caught they walked free.

Now eighteen, Nic Preston - the girl who survived - is trying hard to rebuild her life. She’s security conscious to the point of paranoia and her only friend is a French Mastiff bulldog, but she’s making progress. She’s started college in New York and has even begun dating.

But then one night her apartment is broken into and the life Nic’s worked so hard to create is shattered in an instant.

Finn Carter - hacker, rule breaker, player – is the last person Nic ever wants to see again. He’s the reason her mother’s killers walked free from court. But as the people hunting her close in, Nic has to accept that her best and possibly only chance of staying alive is by keeping close to Finn and learning to trust the person she’s sworn to hate.

Fleeing across a snowbound New England, frantically trying to uncover the motive behind the murders, Nic and Finn come to realize the conspiracy is bigger than they could ever have suspected. But the closer they get to the truth and the closer they get to each other, the greater the danger becomes.

To survive she has to stay close to him.
To keep her safe he has to keep his distance.

I’m kicking myself so hard for not reading Conspiracy Girl sooner. Had I known such a fast-paced, high octane read was waiting for me, I would have definitely picked it up quicker! Conspiracy Girl is a total gem of a book, and one that I feel has been a little overlooked, but I don’t know why because it is absolutely fantastic.

I did have a few issues with the formatting, but honestly, because the book had such an incredible plot, I could easily overlook this as I blasted through the pages. I found myself absorbed into Nic’s story immediately, and really felt sorry for her when I learnt just how much trauma she’d gone through. And that trauma just kept on coming throughout Conspiracy Girl, I found myself reading and thinking ‘Nic cannot possibly go through ANYMORE. She’s dealt with too much already!’ but Nic was one tough cookie, and she wasn’t going to be destroyed without a fight. She was incredibly guarded but I enjoyed seeing her walls slowly come down, especially around Finn.

I thought the chemistry between Finn and Nic was amazing. I didn’t think I’d enjoy the romance in Conspiracy Girl, I thought it would be a little out of place but I actually loved it. I loved Finn’s character, seeing him wrestle with his feelings for Nic against his determination to keep her safe and not let the demons of his past come back to haunt him. I feel like because they were in such a highly charged situation their emotions were also highly charged and that just led to them being unable to fight the attraction they both felt.

There was a lot of mystery surrounding Conspiracy Girl which kept me guessing throughout the entire book, although I did cotton on who the FBI leak was pretty early, but I understood why Finn and Nic didn’t work it out straight away. I literally daren’t say any more because I really don’t want to give anything away accidentally!

Conspiracy Girl was an absolutely ace read that I enjoyed reading from start to finish, and I cannot wait to tear into the rest of Sarah Alderson’s back catalogue. I already have Out of Control waiting for me, and it certainly won’t be long before I pick it up!