Archive for the ‘YA’ Category

Two Ticks Tuesday; Am I Normal Yet?

Holly Bourne
All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…
But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?

I love Holly’s writing. She deftly manages to combine the struggle of living with a long term condition, and a heartbreaking crisis with loveable characters and snort out loud humour.

Holly’s book deals with friendships and relationships like the older, wiser sister every woman wishes she had had to guide her through her teen years and young adulthood.

Really informative and thought provoking. A gripping first person insight in to OCD.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Usborne
Publication Date: August 2015
Format: ebook
Pages: 448
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own copy
Challenge: None
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Two Ticks Tuesday; It Only Happens in the Movies

Holly Bourne
Audrey is over romance. Since her parents’ relationship imploded her mother’s been catatonic, so she takes a cinema job to get out of the house. But there she meets wannabe film-maker Harry. Nobody expects Audrey and Harry to fall in love as hard and fast as they do. But that doesn’t mean things are easy. Because real love isn’t like the movies…
The greatest love story ever told doesn’t feature kissing in the snow or racing to airports. It features pain and confusion and hope and wonder and a ban on cheesy clichés. Oh, and zombies… YA star Holly Bourne tackles real love in this hugely funny and poignant novel.

I would highly recommend this book! It was so, so good. Full of movie cliche’s, feminism, friendship, first loves, relationships, family life, etc. It was rich, raw and honest and I love how strong and vulnerable Holly made all of the characters. I especially loved Audrey’s support unit. This book is going on my favourites of the year shelf for sure!

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Usborne
Publication Date: October 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Challenge: None

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Two Ticks Tuesday; Witch Born

Nicholas Bowling
It’s 1577. Queen Elizabeth I has imprisoned scheming Mary Queen of Scots, and Alyce’s mother is burned at the stake for witchcraft. Alyce kills the witchfinder and flees to London – but the chase isn’t over yet. As she discovers her own dark magic, powerful political forces are on her trail. She can’t help but wonder: why is she so important? Soon she finds herself deep in a secret battle between rival queens, the fate of England resting on her shoulders…

This was a perfect autumnal read, sitting warm and cosy under a blanket while our protagonist, Alyce found herself in ever more uncomfortable (usually cold and wet) and dangerous situations.

I really enjoyed how Bowling played with history, taking a very real and very tense political situation and very recognizable historical figures and deftly overlaying the fantasy elements of his story.

While I did studying the period way back when I was in school, it is a time I have spent very little time exploring in literature. I came away with a better sense of the period, of its struggles and general unpleasantness. Though I enjoyed my time visiting Bowling’s Elizabethan England I am very glad I don’t live there!

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Chicken House
Publication Date: September 2017
Format: ARC
Pages: 368
Genre: Historical, Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: Debut author

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Two Ticks Tuesday; Turtles All The Way Down

John Green
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

A lot of people are praising this book and I can definitely see why. I really did like this book but it was probably a 3.5/4 star book for me as opposed to a big 5 star read.

I liked a lot of the things that happened but I also really disliked a few things too. A bit swings and roundabouts!

What was good about the book is that it made me THINK and you can find more of my thoughts here.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: October 2017
Format: Hardback
Pages: 304
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source:
Challenge: None
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Turtles All the Way Down

John Green
Sixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

*This is not a review so much as a reflection on the book*

I’ve been waiting for this book to be released for months, ever since I saw this video on youtube where John Green explains so well what having OCD is actually like. I knew that this book was going to be reflecting on his own experiences and would therefore be a good portrayal of this mental health illness – which I do also suffer with.

And it really, really was. I found myself taking photos of a lot of quotes in the book and just well and truly identifying with the main character. In this respect, this book was exactly what I had hoped it would be.

But it also really made me think. (The irony of this statement will not be lost on those who have read it.)

Everyone who suffers with OCD, suffers and deals with it in their own unique way. They have their own experiences, their own triggers, anxieties, routines, etc so it would be impossible for any one book on OCD to be the perfect OCD book for everyone who suffers with it. But what I found helpful with this book, and other books with OCD protagonists (listed below) is that I saw myself in some of the quotes, routines and actions of Aza, thus I was able to feel just a little less alone.

But on the flip side, it also made me question my own OCD. Yes, I did some of the things that Aza did but I also didn’t do other things or didn’t do things to such a bad extent and thus I felt like maybe I am just making a big deal of nothing. Maybe my OCD isn’t OCD at all, but just quirks. (I have been diagnosed by a health professional and even this line of thinking is part of my OCD at play) As you can see, I am aware that for me this is an irrational thought and not true. But I can’t help but wonder if, as a teenager, I would have felt the same way.

I have suffered with OCD – from my knowledge – ever since I was 14 years old. However at the time, I had no idea I had OCD. I barely even understood that I had anxieties. I just figured I was a teenager going through being a teenager – you know? So if I had read this and not felt that my actions were as bad then I may not have gone to a doctor. And I worry that this is also how some teenagers of today may feel about this book.

Obviously this is a difficult issue and I do not think Turtles All the Way Down is at fault here as it does show how serious and difficult OCD can be. But I feel that what I’m getting to is that we need more books which show OCD as manageable, hidden issues perhaps. Most of the OCD books I’ve read, the protagonists are aware of their health issue so I think I just want a book where someone is diagnosed as OCD.

SPOILER ADDITION
(Highlight to read)

On a similar note, while reading this book, I kept feeling like something wasn’t quite right. I could not figure out where this feeling was coming from but it was a niggling thought at the back of my mind. It was only upon reading a review of the book that I realised what my issue was; Aza does not seem to have any other personality trait. She has OCD and that is all she is. There is never mention to any films or books she loves, or any other activity that she really does except think. I do know that this may have been to show how all encompassing OCD can be but I also just feel that it made her character feel a little flat to me.

END OF SPOILER

What do you think? Have you read Turtles? Did you like it?

Other Books with OCD I highly recommend
Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13b by Teresa Toten
Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
It’s All In Your Head by Rae Earl
(Non-Fiction)
Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon (Non-Fiction, Adult)

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: October 2017
Format: Hardback
Pages: 286
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Gifted
Challenge: None
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Odd and True

Cat Winters
Trudchen grew up hearing Odette’s stories of their monster-slaying mother and a magician’s curse. But now that Tru’s older, she’s starting to wonder if her older sister’s tales were just comforting lies, especially because there’s nothing fantastic about her own life—permanently disabled and in constant pain from childhood polio.
In 1909, after a two-year absence, Od reappears with a suitcase supposedly full of weapons and a promise to rescue Tru from the monsters on their way to attack her. But it’s Od who seems haunted by something. And when the sisters’ search for their mother leads them to a face-off with the Leeds Devil, a nightmarish beast that’s wreaking havoc in the Mid-Atlantic states, Tru discovers the peculiar possibility that she and her sister—despite their dark pasts and ordinary appearances—might, indeed, have magic after all.

What are your overall thoughts?

This is my first Cat Winters book so I had no idea what to expect when I requested Odd and True to review. The cover is what immediately drew my attention, it put to mind some well-mannered ladies who are just as comfortable taking tea as they are kicking arse, a kind of 1900’s Buffy.

What I got was a much subtler, but no less enjoyable, character driven story of two sisters reconnecting after a period of enforced separation, untangling the threads of truth from their fantastical childhood recollections of their shared past and the more recent experience of their separation.

I enjoyed the shared storytelling. Truncheon’s provides the first person present tense observations, while her elder sister Odette gradually reveals the sisters shared history, from childhood through to present day 1909. I found myself as equally invested in each narrative and would get to the end of each chapter, not wishing for that perspective to change only to be quickly absorbed in the story of the other sister.

What was your favorite aspect of the book?
I really enjoyed the inclusion of a diverse character in a historically set novel, I this incidence it was the inclusion of Trudchen’s disability. I loved that Trudchen was the heroine of her own story, not in spite of her physical limitations, or by overcoming them, but because of her strength of character, the culmination of her life experiences and empathetic personality.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Tue- Despite being physically less able than her order, self appointed protector sister, she brings her own strengths to the partnership- strength of character, a strong moral center and bloody minded determination- all of which stand her in good stead when she travels across the country with her sister searching for strange beasts, finds herself fighting for the under dog and in a position to be a positive role model for a vulnerable young girl.

Would you recommend this book?
Yes, I would recommend it for people that like slow building character driven novels about female familial relationships and the many different strengths of young women.

Verdict: Sisters seeking the supernatural armed with a suitcase full of shared history find themselves and each other.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Amulet
Publication Date: September 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 368
Genre: Historical, Fantasy, Supernatural
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: None
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Daughter of the Burning City

Amanda Foody
Reality is in the eye of the beholder…
Even among the many unusual members of the travelling circus that has always been her home sixteen year old Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years.
This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all of their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.
But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real.
Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.
Now she must unravel the horrifying truth before all her loved ones disappear.

I really enjoyed this book, the premise, the world building, the dark and shadowy setting, the characters and the twisty, turning plot all contributed to a wonderfully unique and absorbing story.

I love how the author took historicity of Gomorrah and developed an alternative time line with a fantasy spin. Rather than being destroyed by fire and brimstone, the city survived as a roaming mobile carnival-city of vice, freaks and magic workers.

I loved the imagery of a gigantic; smoke engulfed city crawling from region to region bringing with it its many entertainments. Despite its intimidating façade and its reputation of vice and dubious inhabitants, it held within it a community that was generally accepting of all of its inhabitants, and each member valued for their individual skills and their contribution to the ongoing function of the city.

I don’t have a single favorite character; rather I really enjoyed Sorina’s entire family. I loved the premise behind their creation. How, despite springing forth from Sorena’s imagination, they emerged altered in ways that she couldn’t even begins to envision and how they develop way beyond the initial concept of Sorina’s imagination, developing personalities and leading lives independent of Sorina. I think it was a great analogy of young adulthood, building an increasingly independent life away from your family and beginning to see that the members of your family and community exist outside their roles within your own experience.

Peppered throughout the book are illustrations of Soruna’s family of freaks, each one doctored by an unknown assailant. These brief sketch like interludes give you further glimpses in to the mind of Sorina and her feelings for her family as she was creating them, while the sinister unattributed additions ramp up the tension and give a glimpse in to the nefarious pans of a disturbed imagination.

These clever additions ramped up the tension and made me worry for the characters I had grown to love. It was a really interesting way to add an alternative “voice” to a story that is otherwise told in first person present tense. A brilliant example of how illustration can complement and add depth to the text of the story by evoking and enhancing the atmosphere the author’s words have provoked.

I would thoroughly recommend this book. It was an absorbing, fantastical twisting and turning tale, like nothing I’ve read before.

Verdict: Like the smoky nocturnal city itself this book invites you in to its constantly moving world of magic and stomach twisting entertainment.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: HQ Young Adult
Publication Date: July 2017
Format: eARC
Pages: 308
Genre: Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroine
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: Debut author
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Fire Lines

Cara Thurlbourn

When your blood line awakens, how do you choose between family and freedom?
Émi’s father used to weave beautiful tales of life beyond the wall, but she never knew if they were true. Now, her father is gone and Émi has been banished to the Red Quarter, where she toils to support herself and her mother – obeying the rules, hiding secrets and suffering the cruelties of the council’s ruthless Cadets.
But when Émi turns seventeen, sparks fly – literally. Her blood line surges into life and she realises she has a talent for magick… a talent that could get her killed.
Émi makes her escape, beyond the wall and away from everything she’s ever known. In a world of watchers, elephant riders and sorcery, she must discover the truth about who she really is. But can the new Émi live up to her destiny?

What were your initial thoughts on the book?
It’s been a while since I last read a fantasy book but when I heard about this one, I was instantly intrigued. It sounded very interesting – and fortunately it was! From the very beginning I found myself quite addicted to this book and found it pretty difficult to move on. Fortunately this book was also an easy read, the descriptions were written so well that images of the world filled my brain. I connected with the characters and could not wait to find out what would happen and where the book would take us. It’s not a truly complex fantasy novel but that was absolutely perfect for me. This made it easier to imagine and read, it allowed the characters to take full control of the story, which is something I absolutely love in books.

Who was your favourite character and why?
This is actually a bit of a tough choice for me but I think my ultimate favourite character was Tsam. I can’t quite put my finger on why except that I was instantly drawn to him and his protective nature. He felt like a safety net in the book. It’s hard to describe but I just felt safe whenever he was there. Second to Tsam would obviously be Emi. She was such a strong, powerful character. She goes through so much in the book and has lived a hellish life but she takes it all in and doesn’t let her weaknesses or her history define her. She is definitely a very interesting and unique character.

Would you recommend this book?
Definitely. I am certain that this book might not be for everyone but if you love fantasy and YA, mystery and adventure then you should definitely make sure that you read this book. It’s vivid and vibrant, taking you on a truly exotic adventure. I loved the lay of the land that Cara has come up with in this book, I loved the different creatures and beings that we meet throughout the book too. So if you’re looking for a book with all of these elements, then don’t miss this one.

One Sentence Summary (Verdict)
A vivid, vibrant, easy and addictive read that will pull you in from the first sentence.

Publisher: Bewick Press
Publication Date: September 2017
Format: eBook
Pages: 300
Genre: Fantasy
Age: YA
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Provided by Author
Challenge: None
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One of Us is Lying

Karen M.McManus
Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.
Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond.
Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.
Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.
And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about any of them again. He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it’s no accident. All of them are suspects.
Everyone has secrets, right?
What really matters is how far you’ll go to protect them.

Five high school students – a geek, a jock, a criminal and a gossip – walk into detention…only four leave. After the sudden death of Simon, the creator of an infamous gossip blog, the four other students see themselves pursued in a relentless police investigation -thrust into the position of murder suspects as it comes to light that Simon was only 24 hours away from posting their deepest secrets online. This YA psychological thriller follows the twists and turns of this murder investigation, examining the role of the media, the evolving relationships of the suspects and the repercussions of this shocking murder on this small American town.

From the very first line McManus captures the readers attention, as we delve deeper and deeper into the story line. We see such vast evolvement of plot with multiple character point of views, creating a three dimensional insight into the investigation, whilst providing many layers of perspective that contribute to the overall suspense and pace of the novel.

The reader comes to question the involvement of all the characters at different points in the novel, serving to add a great sense of suspense and suspicion that overall makes the book vey addictive! Although at times predictable, McManus constructs subtle plot twists, in such a way in which their significance only comes to light later in the story, in doing so the reader enjoys a vast and relatively complex plot line.

Whilst examining the police investigation and changing attitudes of the public; in a similar vein to Breakfast Club, McManus looks at the interaction between social circles. We see great evolvement in the relationships of these characters, who would other wise never interact, but have been uniquely bonded by the experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the aspects of friendship in this book as we see both the deterioration of relationships and the formation of new ones, as the investigation deepens.

The book also has a romantic subplot, which whilst at sometimes subtracted from the overall plot, served to add a sense of anticipation and excitement, of which overall effectively contributed to the development of character in the book.

I found the ending to be relatively predictable, yet the author still managed to retain a sense of satisfaction as the outcome is skilfully weaved throughout the plot. Furthermore, McManus effectively injected the right about of action and pace along side psychological suspense, creating an ending that kept me thinking about the book days after I finished it.

Verdict: Overall “One of Us is Lying” is a fast paced and vastly enjoyable read, that has been skilfully constructed in order to maintain constant suspicion and anticipation. I would most definitely recommend this for lovers of murder mysteries and would be especially perfect for lovers of 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough, Running Girl by Simon Mason and fans of the Breakfast Club.

Reviewed by Evie (15)

Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date:June 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages:360
Genre: Thriller
Age: YA
Reviewer: Evie (15)
Source: Own copy
Challenge: Debut Author
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When Dimple Met Rishi

Sandhya Menon
Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?
Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.
The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?
Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

What are your overall thoughts?

I was initially attracted by the premise of a romantic comedy set against the backdrop of an arranged marriage. It was a premise that I hadn’t come across before in a contemporary romance and I couldn’t imagine how an arranged marriage, a concept that seems so completely other to my own background, would work in a setting with modern young adults, let alone how it could be written in a way that was comedic and romantic. I was curious to see how the author was going to make it work.

I was absolutely delighted with the results. From Dimples and Rishi’s refreshing first meeting (literal and figurative), until I turned the final page, what felt and inconceivably short time later, I sat with a goofy grin on my face, loving every awkward, romantic and snort out loud moment of it.

(Yes, it is entirely possible to give your e-reader a contented squeeze but points have to go to paperbacks, which are infinitely more confortable to hug).

What was your favorite aspect of the book?

Not since Jack positioned Rose on a chaise lounge aboard the Titanic has the pursuit of artistic expression gotten me so hot under the collar *fans self * who need chocolates and roses when these boys have stubby pencils and acres of talent to woo and seduce.

If you haven’t all ready surmised, I absolutely loved that we were able to explore Rishi’s passion for art, I only wish that we had spent a little more time exploring Dimples passion for computer coding.

Although the book is set during a summer university coding program, it felt very much like the device to get the two characters in the right place at the right time, rather than an integral part of the story.

The majority of the focus of the summer program was spent preparing for a talent show. While I’m a little confused as to its relevance in a tech competition, I actually loved all of the preparation for the couple’s talent entry.

I really enjoyed the references to the characters Indian cultural heritage, it made me curious to learn more and I will definitely be searching out more books with culturally diverse characters.

Folllowing on for the book I am particularly keen watch a Bollywood movie and check out the dance numbers!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Rishi Patel. He was kind, generally level headed, considerate and romantic, a most swoon worthy leading character. I found myself sympathetic to his point of view when given the context of his passion for his heritage and his devotion to his family.

I really enjoyed how he an Dimples complemented and challenge each other particularly in relation to how they developed in their interactions with their families.

Would you recommend this book?
Yes, it was the perfect coming of age, feel good summer romance.

Summarize in one sentence.
A thirst quenching iced chai latte, of a summer Rom Com, which I gulped down in a single sitting.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 2017
Format: e Book
Pages: 380
Genre: contemporary romsnce
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Netgalley
Challenge: Debut author
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