Posts Tagged ‘Reviewer- Evie’

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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Not That Kind of Girl

Siobhan Vivian
Slut or saint? Good friend or bad friend? In control or completely out of it?
Life is about making choices, and Natalie Sterling prides herself on always making the right ones. She’s avoided the jerky guys populating her prep school, always topped honor roll, and is poised to become the first female student council president in years.
If only other girls were as sensible and strong. Like the pack of freshmen yearning to be football players’ playthings. Or her best friend, whose crappy judgment nearly ruined her life.
But being sensible and strong isn’t easy. Not when Natalie nearly gets expelled anyway. Not when her advice hurts more than it helps. Not when a boy she once dismissed becomes the boy she can’t stop thinking about.
The line between good and bad has gone fuzzy, and crossing it could end in disaster . . . or become the best choice she’ll ever make.

Natalie Sterling had always made all the right decisions; she has stayed clear of boys, drama and gossip, all whilst remaining top in her class and playing a key role in the student council. However, as she embarks on her senior year it becomes obvious things aren’t going to plan and a series of events force Natalie to reconsider what it means to be good and what type of girl she really is. We follow Natalie on journey of self-discovery as she encounter issues of sexuality, feminism and what it means to be a “slut”.

When I picked up this book I was expecting a light and fluffy romance but what I got was so much more. The book explored difficult and hugely relevant social issues in a way which retained a light, and at times comical, value. I found the male protagonist to be extremely sweet and most definitely swoon worthy, whilst his relationship with Natalie served to establish how being in a relationship doesn’t make a girl weaker.

The plot was hugely driven by the characters, specifically the supporting roles of which had been skilfully constructed by Siobhan. She has created highly relatable and loveable characters that I found easy to empathise with. However, I found Natalie to be the weakest character, at best slightly irritating and at worst both manipulative and quite one-dimensional. Even so, the plot serves to be hugely compelling and vastly enjoyable.

Siobhan successfully created an evolving and fun plot line, which had me sitting at the edge of my seat from the first to the very last page. However what I found mist enjoying about the story was Siobhan clear voice and narrative that ebbed from every line.

Verdict: Overall, ‘Not that Kind of Girl’ served to be a highly enjoyable and refreshing twist on the typical high school romance. I would recommend it for fans of The DUFF by Kody Keplinger and Burn for Burn by Siobhan Vivian and Jenny Han.

Reviewed by Evie (15)

Publisher: Push
Publication Date: September 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 336
Genre: contemporary, feminism
Age: YA
Reviewer: Evie (15)
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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Songs About a Girl

Chris Russell
songs girlCharlie Bloom never wanted to be ‘with the band’. She’s happiest out of the spotlight, behind her camera, unseen and unnoticed. But when she’s asked to take backstage photos for hot new boy band Fire&Lights, she can’t pass up the chance.
Catapulted into a world of paparazzi and backstage bickering, Charlie soon becomes caught between gorgeous but damaged frontman, Gabriel West, and his boy-next-door bandmate Olly Samson. Then, as the boys’ rivalry threatens to tear the band apart, Charlie stumbles upon a mind-blowing secret, hidden in the lyrics of their songs…

This book follows Charlie Bloom, a budding photographer who is asked to take behind the scene pictures of the biggest teen boy band in the world – Fire and Lights. Charlie finds herself in the unfamiliar world of paparazzi, celebrities and tabloid gossip and soon becomes caught up with the gorgeous lead singer and teen heartthrob, Gabriel West and his incredibly sweet band mate, Olly Samson. Her newfound celebrity status sends shock waves through her everyday life as Charlie discovers a shocking message hidden within the bands new album – Songs About a Girl.

Above all this is a book about growing up and dealing with friends and family. It not only explores relationship dynamics but also looks at bullying and a variety of issues present in everyday life. Not to mention the very exciting and swoon worthy romance that captivates the reader from page one and had me squealing intermittently throughout the book.

Chris Russell successfully creates a very likeable protagonist- Charlie – who is an ordinary yet real character and whose qualities made the narrative that bit more relatable whilst contributing to the light nature of the novel. The characters of Olly and Gabriel had considerable depth for a novel of this nature, although at times their angst came across as quite forced and somewhat clichéd.

I did, however, think the plot was interesting and constantly evolved throughout the novel. The twists and turns in the storyline kept me constantly engaged whilst the cliffhanger at the end definitely ensured I will purchase the second instalment of this series. Additionally, I thought the book was surprisingly hilarious whilst delightfully heart-warming and Chris Russell’s love for music oozed from every page – making the narrative have a somewhat authentic vibe.

Although this was by no means the most well written book I have ever read, I did find it wonderfully uplifting and immensely satisfying. I found the plot to be of a great rhythm that had me glued to every page whilst the writing style was incredibly easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable.

Verdict: To put it simply this was an addictive story that I would recommend to everyone who is looking for a light and extremely fun read. Chris Russell has created a truly loveable world with a captivating plot and relatable characters. I would recommend this if you enjoyed Open Road Summer by Emery Lord and I think it is suitable for 10+ readers as there is little to no mature content

Reviewed by Evie (14)

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Publication Date: July 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 496
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Music
Age: YA
Reviewer: Evie (14)
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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The Graces

Laure Eve
the gracesEveryone said the Graces were witches.
They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.
They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.
All I had to do was show them that person was me.
Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

The Graces follows (you guessed it) the Grace family, but more specifically River. The rich, beautiful and powerful Graces captivate River, as they do with every one in her town. Why? – Because everyone believes Summer, Thalia and Fenrin Grace can do magic. So when the family seem to take River under their wing, welcoming her to where everyone has tried but failed to be, she commits herself to being a Grace. However, as River grows closer to the family she learns that becoming a Grace has a price and carries consequences she could have never imagined.

I went into this hoping it would either be a twilight-esque frustrating romance but nevertheless an unput-a-downable read or a kickass witch book with mind-blowing magic. Unfortunately though, this book was neither and all in all I found it rather underwhelming.

Although beautifully began I found the latter stages of the novel painfully slow and lacking clear direction. I felt the main character was very depressing and just not an enjoyable narrator. Additionally, I felt her obsession with the Graces was disturbing and to be honest I didn’t really want to learn more about them.
My main problem with the book was the lack of plot; it read like it hadn’t been planned and lacked any real climax. I also felt it was quite forced in trying to be dark and mysterious and therefore didn’t really create the atmosphere I was looking for.

One thing I did quite enjoy was the dialogue, which at times was sharp and easily read. Furthermore, I did like Summer’s character as I thought Lauren Eve had constructed her well, with her dimension being well written.

To conclude, I did find the beginning of the book quite enjoyable but once we were past the opening stages the plot lost most of it’s intrigue and thus failed to captivate me.

Verdict: What disappointed me the most was how much potential it had, the synopsis sounded so intriguing and I therefore went in with high expectations only to be let down.

Reviewed by Evie (14)

Publisher: Faber and Faber
Publication Date: August 2016
Format: eBook
Pages: 352
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal
Age: YA
Reviewer: Evie (14)
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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13 Minutes

Sarah Pinborough
27802575I was dead for 13 minutes.
I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.
They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?

*Please note that due to the nature of this novel I am not going to go into too much depth whilst giving a synopsis as I think it is best to go into this one with limited knowledge of what might unfold.*

13 Minutes is a young adult psychological thriller that follows the on going twists of a gripping murder mystery involving a group of seemingly normal teenage girls.
The novel opens with the lucky discovery of Natasha’s close to dead body in a local river. She is revived at the scene, having been technically dead for 13 minutes (hence the title), but is left in a state of amnesia in that she can’t remember the days leading up to the incident including how she ended up in the river.

Natasha happens to be the leader of the popular girls (or ‘Barbies’) at her sixth form and her near-death experience sends shock waves through the community – ultimately triggering a series of rippling events that threaten to destroy anyone and everyone involved.

Right from the beginning of this novel I was absolutely hooked and the vast variety of perspectives and formats, including text messages and transcripts, lead the way for a story full of intrigue and deception I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. The vast majority of the book is told from Becca’s perspective, Natasha’s ex-best friend, who sheds light on the history of herself and the so-called ‘Barbies’ in a way that adds a depth I haven’t seen in many YA books. I especially loved Sarah’s use of doctors reports that were placed perfectly throughout and allowed us to delve beneath the surface of the characters actions in order to grasp a sense of who they truly are and thus created layer upon layer of character development.

This novel is more than just a murder mystery, though a great one it is, it is a book that highlights the pressures of the modern day and offers an insight into teenage friendships and social structures. It provides a constantly evolving plot that spirals into something I never ever would have predicted when I first picked up this book. I love the vast spectrum of characters that Sarah uses to create a complex and colourful plot she weaves so perfectly to create a story that left me utterly speechless. The story line slots together with a loud and vastly satisfying click right at the end but up until that point I had no idea where it was going and Sarah had me constantly guessing from the very beginning.

Verdict: Sarah Pinborough utterly delighted me. I cannot stress enough how skilfully plotted this book was – I will for sure be purchasing many more of her books. I would definitely recommend this for lovers of Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard, Torn by Cat Clarke or just anyone looking for a really great and well-crafted quick read. Just keep in mind this book is not suited for young readers due to the nature of the plot and some sexual content.

Reviewed by Evie

Publisher: Gollancz
Publication Date: February 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 405
Genre: Thriller, Crime
Age: YA
Reviewer: Evie
Source: Own Copy
Challenge: British book
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What’s A Girl Gotta Do?

Holly Bourne
29740718HOW 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…

What’s a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne is the third in a series that revolves around three English teenagers – Evie (who of course has the best name!), Amber and Lottie. Each character is relatable and likeable in their own way as is the book that follows each of them. In this much anticipated sequel we follow Lottie as she embarks on a month long project to call out every act of sexism she encounters, with the hopes of enlightening some of her more unaware peers of the ever present issue. We get to see Lottie as she prepares for her looming Cambridge interview, how she handles expectations inflicted by her parents and how she deals with the reverberations of her project throughout the public. Having read and devoured every one of Holly Bourne’s books I had high expectations going into this one and I am pleased to say it didn’t disappoint.

The story opens with Lottie experiencing sexual assault on her way to school; this, and an array of other events, trigger Lottie’s project – called the ‘Vagilante’ (!). Lottie, alongside the Feminist Society at her school, highlight everyday acts of sexism, from objectifying movie posters and unreasonable marketing, that ultimately lay the bricks for those much larger and life changing acts of sexism like domestic abuse and rape. Although the topics touched in this novel are very serious Holly Bourne manages to retain humour by creating a multitude of intertwining plot lines alongside witty and sassy dialogue.

Holly Bourne’s energetic and emotive writing style captivates the reader and makes it incredibly easy to submerge yourself in the world of Lottie. What makes this such an enjoyable read is the three dimensional characters Holly creates that you can’t help but love and root for. The author constructs an intricate world of kick-ass feminism, humor and romance that provides a satisfying and quick read that I believe many would find thoroughly enjoyable. The diverse range of topics touched in this novel, the varying emotions and constantly changing pace contributed to a refreshing read that is a must have for young feminists everywhere.

I have only one minor criticism of this book. Having read the other books that follow Evie and Amber I am accustomed to Holly’s use of swoon worthy romance but I have to say the romance in this particular novel didn’t quite do it for me. The main love interest is the handsome yet extremely arrogant cameraman, Will, who – compared to the previous male protagonist, Kyle, in Amber’s installment – was rather disappointing. I felt the relationship was rather rushed and therefore lacked the emotional attachment that I am so used to seeing in Holly’s books. Not only was it sort of ‘insta-lovey’ but at times I felt some of Lottie’s attitudes regarding Will were verging on the hypocritical, but I guess the story redeemed itself in that Lottie on several occasions acknowledged her cognitive dissonance and that the book had such a heavy emphasis on female friendships and the importance of them.

Overall I would defiantly recommend this book and the accompanying installments for anybody looking for a fun and vastly empowering read that is light hearted whilst tackling very many serious and topical issues.

Verdict: After reading all of Holly’s books, I have concluded that this is not my favourite but it is, nevertheless, a strong read full of sass and kick-assery that I would not hesitate to recommend to those above the age of 12 (purely due to mature content).

Reviewed by Evie

Publisher: Usborne Publishing
Publication Date: August 2016
Format: Paperback
Pages: 432
Genre: Contemporary, Feminism
Age: YA
Reviewer: Evie
Source: Own copy
Challenge: British book
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Introducing Evie

Evie is a 14-year-old girl, passionate about books, feminism and art. Evie enjoys reading with her two dogs – Charlie, a Chocolate Labrador and Hugo, a rather large and shaggy, 8 month old Irish Wolfhound (who happens to look at lot like she thinks Padfoot, from Harry Potter, should look). Her relationship with books started in her early childhood, when her mum would regularly read aloud to her. One of her most vivid and treasured memories being of them both snuggled up on the sofa reading Harry Potter and crying (a lot!).

Evie adores talking about books and will find any opportunity to do so (sometimes to the annoyance of her friends). One of her most enjoyed activities at school is participating in the Hampshire Book Awards scheme in which students are required to read a shortlist of six books to review and ultimately choose a winner from. Unfortunately this scheme only runs for part of the school year and Evie would absolutely love to review books regularly and belong to a community that is equally enthusiastic about the joys of reading (and will tolerate her non-stop fan-girling). Evie is never far from a bookshop, a place in which she can spend hours, and she never ever leaves the house without a book! Her favourite books include the Book Thief, The Outsiders and of course Harry Potter but she also enjoys a huge variety of YA books across a multitude of genres (and she’s recently discovered John Grisham- much to her dad’s delight).

We are absolutely delighted to add Evie to the Big Book Little Book team.

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