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
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 224
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!

Top Ten Books on My Autumn TBR Pile

September 22, 2015

 

Top Ten Tuesday Broke and Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

I’ve managed to pick exactly the right week to join back into the Top Ten Tuesday topics! I love putting together the seasonal TBRs, and this one was no exception!

top ten tuesday autumn tbr pile collage

Have you read any of these books? Which one do you think I should start with? (I’m thinking Siege and Storm!)

Series I Want to Finish in 2015

August 8, 2015

I’m sure that series I want to finish is becoming a recurring theme on this blog, but I’ve managed to narrow it down to 4 series that I absolutely must finish by the end of this year. I’m hopeful it’ll happen…you never know!
Series I Want to finish in 2015I’m currently re-reading Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, and I’m planning on reading the next two books back-to-back. I’d almost forgotten how good this book is, and I’m excited to finally continue Mal and Alina’s stories.

I have to re-read Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi before I think about picking up the rest of the series, but I haven’t read a dystopian book in ages, so I’m really looking forward to diving back into this world again.

Clockwork Princess and City of Heavenly Fire kind of go hand in hand, as I know I have to read Clockwork Princess before the final Mortal Instruments book. I really enjoy The Infernal Devices, but if I’m being honest, I’m ready for The Mortal Instruments to be over with. 6 books is plenty enough for me!

What series do you want to finish up in 2015?

 

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
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 344
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
Source: Bought Physical Copy
Pages: 391
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.

Top Ten Reads of 2015 So Far

July 28, 2015

I missed out on taking part in this topic the first time around a few weeks ago, and as I didn’t quite fancy doing this week’s topic, I thought I’d share my top ten reads of 2015 so far, as these books are all too good to not talk about as much as I can!

Admittedly, I’m so far behind on my reviews that I haven’t reviewed many of them at all, but hopefully that’s going to change in the next few weeks!

book covers for my top ten reads of 2015 so farEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – this is a book that has left a huge impression on me, and also proved to be one of the most difficult reviews I’ve tried to write!

Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas – one of my favourite books of 2015, and I want EVERYONE to read this book.

Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy – same for this book, such a fantastic read!

Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen – easily my most anticipated sequel of 2015, and it did not disappoint.

One by Sarah Crossan – a beautiful book written in free verse that I read in less than a morning, it was that addictive and compelling.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen – I swear this is everyone’s favourite contemporary, and I absolutely loved it too.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson – OF COURSE this was going to be on this list. It’s a Morgan Matson book.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater – a new installment for one of my favourite series, and once again, I loved it. Although I’m now desperate for the final book in the series!

If I Should Die by Amy Plum – I didn’t realise how much I loved this series until I read and finished this book, and now I’m sad that it’s over.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – everyone who said this book was amazing: you were right. You were so, so right.

What have your favourite books of 2015 been? What books have I missed that you recommend?

 

Dear 16 Year Old Me…

July 25, 2015

Dear Hollie,

You’re 16, you’ve finished taking all your GCSE’s, and you’re so confident about your future. You’re not going to want to listen to what your 22 year-old, slightly thinner and a lot wiser future self has to say to you, but I’m going to tell you anyway.

These next couple of years at sixth form are not going to be amazing like you’re hoping they will. Things won’t change, people won’t miraculously look at you and think that you’ve changed. Because you haven’t. You’re still going to be the same person you already are, and in time, you’ll come to accept that. And trust me, the sooner you accept yourself as a person, the happier you will be.

Allow me to completely rock the apple cart by telling you that you don’t make it to university. But it’s not the end of the world. And deep down, despite all your tears and anger, you’ll know that. Trust me that in five years time, you’ll find a job you absolutely love and all those university woes will seem so trivial. The chip shop will soon be a distant memory for you, but you’ll always be grateful for the working ethic it gave you. You’re going to feel directionless after university, so grab all the opportunities that are given to you. Don’t wallow, allow yourself to live, and really enjoy yourself.

You’re going to make some terrible decisions in life. You’re going to meet a boy on your 20th birthday who will temporarily make you forget who you really are. And although this sounds all whimsical and nice, it’s not. Go in with caution, and get out while you can. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as when you’re 21, you’re going to meet a boy who you’ll fall madly in love with, who loves the exact same music you do, who makes you laugh and tells you that he loves you every single day. He’s worth the wait. He’s worth all the terrible teenage mistakes, all the horrible drunken kisses on nights out in a nightclub that’s overpriced and over-rated. He’s the Prince Charming that you’ve been dreaming about. (And his favourite song from The Black Parade is Disenchanted. If you need any more proof that he’s the guy for you, I don’t know what else to give you.)

2013 will be a terrible year for you, and you’ll have to watch your world fall apart over and over and over until you’re convinced that you’re going to break. You won’t. You’ll come back stronger, even if you don’t want to. Even if you think you can’t. You’re resilient. You bend, but you never break. As I write this, I’m realising that this is one of my favourite things about myself. Self-love is something we’re working on.

Life is full of surprises, and we love a good surprise, so I’m not going to give you anything else to mull over. You’ll have to fill in the gaps yourself.

Love

Your 22 year old, really bloody awesome self.

P.S – DO NOT try and go blonde. It won’t be a good look, I promise!

 

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
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 464
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.