Posts Tagged ‘Reviewer-Caroline’

Two Ticks Tuesday; What’s a Girl Gotta Do?

Holly Bourne
HOW TO START A FEMINIST REVOLUTION:
1. Call out anything that is unfair on one gender
2. Don’t call out the same thing twice (so you can sleep and breathe)
3. Always try to keep it funny
4. Don’t let anything slide. Even when you start to break…
Lottie’s determined to change the world with her #Vagilante vlog. Shame the trolls have other ideas…

Really enjoyed the way the author highlighted everyday sexism with humour but, as with the previous books in this series, still managed to address serious elements in a sensitive and informative way.

I really recommend this series.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher:Usbourne Publishing
Publication Date: August 2016
Format: ebook
Pages: 331
Genre: Contemporary
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British book
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Two Ticks Tuesday; How Hard Can Love Be?

Holly Bourne
Amber, Evie and Lottie: three girls facing down tough issues with the combined powers of friendship, feminism and cheesy snacks. Both hilarious and heart-rending, this is Amber’s story of how painful – and exhilarating – love can be, following on from Evie’s story in Am I Normal Yet?
All Amber wants is a little bit of love. Her mum has never been the caring type, even before she moved to California, got remarried and had a personality transplant. But Amber’s hoping that spending the summer with her can change all that.
And then there’s prom king Kyle, the guy all the girls want. Can he really be interested in anti-cheerleader Amber? Even with best friends Evie and Lottie’s advice, there’s no escaping the fact: love is hard.

I am absolutely loving this series and I raced through this instalment in a single sitting.
Despite the heavy backstory I didn’t find this as intense as the first. I did however find it even funnier and I could completely relate to Amber’s Britishness
I continued to love Lottie’s feminist insights, they work well within the story and don’t feel like info dumps. a fabulous way to introduce feminist principles and ideas to young people. I plan to gift this series to every tween and teen I know.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Usborne
Publication Date: February 2016
Format: ebook
Pages: 480
Genre: Contemporary, Feminism
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own copy
Challenge: None
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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; 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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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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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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#LGBTQIARead…You Know Me Well

Nina LaCour and David Levithan
Who knows you well? Your best friend? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? A stranger you meet on a crazy night? No one, really?
Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for an entire year, but have never spoken. For whatever reason, their paths outside of class have never crossed.
That is until Kate spots Mark miles away from home, out in the city for a wild, unexpected night. Kate is lost, having just run away from a chance to finally meet the girl she has been in love with from afar. Mark, meanwhile, is in love with his best friend Ryan, who may or may not feel the same way.
When Kate and Mark meet up, little do they know how important they will become to each other — and how, in a very short time, they will know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more.
Told in alternating points of view by Nina LaCour and David Levithan, the best-selling author of Every Day and co-author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (with Rachel Cohn) and Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with John Green), You Know Me Well is a deeply honest story about navigating the joys and heartaches of first love, one truth at a time.

You Know Me Well was the perfect start to this week long LGBTQIA read-a-thon. Not only does it contain a diverse cast of characters from across the LGBTQIA community, all of the action in this zippy little read takes place over Pride week. While the book alludes to some serious themes and introduces the characters at povital moments in their young adult lives, overall the book felt fresh and light and I was happy to be sweep up within its pages. I loved the premise that someone on the outskirts of your social circle, essentially a stranger, can at the right moment in time be exactly the person you need in your life.

There were some elements of this book that under different circumstances I would find frustrating (and possibly even eye rolling)- “insta” love, rapidly resolved dilemmas and heartbreak recovery- however, as supporting elements to what was Kate and Mark’s falling in to friendship story, they simply added to the intensity created by the bubble of Pride week and the rapidly dissolving school year.

Despite me starting this review stating that it was essentially a light summer read, there were some moments that really resonated with me and made me pause. As an adult who reads YA I could really relate to the sentiments expressed about why the adults in the story were so fascinated by the protagonists life experiences. The limitless possibilities of youth and their wrestling with the huge decisions which focus and reduce those choices further is one of the reasons I gravitate toward young adult fiction- the absence of the daily grind, bill paying and the cynicism are some of the other reasons. Twenty years down the road, I still remember those feelings of pressure, excitement and fear, of being on the precipice and having to make what felt like irrevocable, life defining choices.

I loved the inclusion of expression and art in many forms from music, clothing, painting and photography, through to a poetry slam which was simultaneously the most educational, eye opening and moving part of the entire book.

I will definitely be checking out the authors other works.

Verdict: Fast paced platonic love story.

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Macmillan
Publication Date: June 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 248
Genre: LGBTQIA, Friendship
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Own copy
Challenge: LGBTQIAReads

Personal Read-a-thon aim: Two books
Number of books read: One
Currently reading: Pantomime by Laura Lam

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#LGBTQIARead

After a bit of a hiatus I have been trying be become a bit more active in the blogging community. One of the things that I have always enjoyed is taking part in read-a-thons, we have even co-hosted one (#FinishItFeb) here on Big Book Little Book.

Read-a-thons are a great way of tackling the TBR from a new perspective, hi-lighting those books you were keen to read and purchased, but somehow got buried under the next shiny thing. They are a fantastic way of interacting with other members of the book blogging community and readers who wouldn’t ordinarily share their reads as everyone who signs up reads books from a particular genre or around a particular theme. It helps to spotlight the theme/genre and produces many wonderful recommendations. My TBR might shrink following a read-a-thon, but my wish list inevitable ends up longer!

This week I will be taking part in the #LGBTQIARead read-a-thon. Co- hosted by our very own Faye, on her personal lifestyle and book blog (here), and blogger extraordinaire George Lester (visit George’s blog here) the read-a-thon encourages people to read and share books with LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Queer, Intersex and Asexual) characters/themes.

As this is only a week long challenge, and I acknowledge that my reading powers are not what they were, I am aiming to read two books.

As I like to read by mood I have collected together a selection of LGBTQIA books from my TBR pile from which to pick from.
I haven’t even decided which book to start with!
I may add to this list as I receive recommendations and once I’ve had a proper look through my shelves and kindle.
Please feel free to tell me which of the books you think I should read and pass on your recommendations in the comments below.

If you want to sign up to join the challenge yourself everything you need to know and the sign up sheet can be found here

#LGBQTIAReads TBR
Paper
Release by Partrick Ness
Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe
You Know Me well David Levithan and Nina Lacour

Ebooks
Pantomime by Laura Lam
Carry On Rainbow Rowell
The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Posted by Caroline

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Royal Bastards

Andrew Shvarts
Being a bastard blows. Tilla would know. Her father, Lord Kent of the Western Province, loved her as a child, but cast her aside as soon as he had trueborn children.
At sixteen, Tilla spends her days exploring long-forgotten tunnels beneath the castle with her stablehand half brother, Jax, and her nights drinking with the servants, passing out on Jax’s floor while her castle bedroom collects dust. Tilla secretly longs to sit by her father’s side, resplendent in a sparkling gown, enjoying feasts with the rest of the family. Instead, she sits with the other bastards, like Miles of House Hampstedt, an awkward scholar who’s been in love with Tilla since they were children.
Then, at a feast honoring the visiting princess Lyriana, the royal shocks everyone by choosing to sit at the Bastards’ Table. Before she knows it, Tilla is leading the sheltered princess on a late-night escapade. Along with Jax, Miles, and fellow bastard Zell, a Zitochi warrior from the north, they stumble upon a crime they were never meant to witness.
Rebellion is brewing in the west, and a brutal coup leaves Lyriana’s uncle, the Royal Archmagus, dead—with Lyriana next on the list. The group flees for their lives, relentlessly pursued by murderous mercenaries; their own parents have put a price on their heads to prevent the king and his powerful Royal Mages from discovering their treachery.
The bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can warn the king in time. And if they can survive the journey

What are your overall thoughts?

I have to admit rather predictably that it was the title that first grabbed my attention; among the residents of my monstrous inbox (if only it was due to popularity rather than inept email management) it certainly stood out. The synopsis seemed right up my street, courtly intrigue, fantasy, magic, an epic journey- so far so Caroline.

The title should have given me some clue that the author was not going to pull his punches. One minute I’m floating along, very contently I might add, on a familiar cloud of hooped skirts, banquets and a gathering of unlikely companions about to impark on a risqué nocturnal excursion, which will undoubtedly trigger the aforementioned travel …

…then KABOOMB (literal explosions) sh*T gets real, and from that moment the book flips from a predictable band of teenagers hiking across the country to thwart a dastardly plot, to something more.

Sure, there is a collection of young adults with powers and ability’s beyond their years, there’s hiking across the country and there’s even evil to foil. But this book was so much more than I anticipated; it had more energy, more action, more gruesome ends and more pulse raising horrors- from the shuddering inducing cave dwellers to the horrific aftermath of war.

From the moment the group made their clandestine trip to the cove I was so caught up in the non-stop action and griped by the adventure, that I risked developing a DVT from immobility. Thankfully aside from a numb bum and a mild case of sleep depravation I am no worse from reading the novel in a single sitting.

What was your favorite aspect of the book?
My favorite aspect was the main character, Tilla. While I don’t claim to know many royal bastards to form a truly informed opinion, Tilla felt authentic and she was easy to relate to. Tilla, is no chosen one, she doesn’t suddenly discover immense magical powers, her badassary is developed through weeks of training and she questions why she has even gotten involved with events.

I liked that she didn’t blindly follow some pre ordained destiny, allow herself to be used as a political pawn or take up a moral crusade without questioning why on earth she had gotten involved in the first place. In fact she strongly considers taking the easy option and getting out of dodge. Her reasons for staying the course felt relatable and believable.

Who was your favorite character and why?
Probably our protagonist Tilla, although I enjoyed getting to know all of the characters and I look forward to getting to know them further as the trilogy progresses.

Would you recommend this book?
Yes, it was a gripping, fast paced read. Fair warning- parts of the book make uncomfortable reading, particularly those with a gentle disposition and a completely understandable aversion to our eight legged friends *shudders*

Summarise in one sentence.
Not your predictable fantasy road trip

Reviewed by Caroline

Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: June 2017
Format: ARC
Pages: 346
Genre: Fantasy, magic
Age: YA
Reviewer: Caroline
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: None
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