Saturday, 24 September 2016

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 4th of October 2016 

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.
 
Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland's brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.
  

What I Have to Say 

I like this new thing of taking the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope and turning it into a very sick girl who a boy has over-romaticised, leading to a relationship that inevitably crumbles leaving a disaster zone in it's wake. 

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) trope and the mentally ill girl who is magically made better by a boys love, have always been tropes that are problematic in YA. Having a boyfriend has never healed a girls health problems and girls aren't just mysterious, quirky toys for boys to date. So naturally having these books written in response to these tropes is fantastic. I especially like the use of Kintsugi, the Japanese art form of repairing things with gold as a metaphor for Henry's fascination with broken things and idolization of Grace. 

Alongside being an excellent response to these issues, Our Chemical Hearts was also a really great story. The characters, especially Henry's two friends, felt real and easy to relate to. They had great humour and it was fun to read. 

 


Monday, 12 September 2016

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 384
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's
Released: 6th of October 2016 


Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn't belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door – and Snow knows that she has to leave …

She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she's destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate

What I Have to Say 

I don't like hating books. I don't like talking about hating books, I just don't like it. Over the years of doing this blog, I've slowly been better about doing reviews for books I don't like. But I still come to them feeling nervous and upset about writing these reviews. So you know I really mean it when I say I just did not like this book at all. It was hard to read and I put it down a couple of times. 

The first thing that bugged me was the institute that Snow was in. They called it an Asylum. Which isn't a term used any more outside the disused and abandoned asylums found in horror films. That was strike one. 

Strike two was the way Snow was put into the "asylum". Now I've been through my fair share of therapy appointments. I know something about the way the system works even if I haven't been in a mental health hospital myself and I just find it impossible to believe that they were dump a six-year-old girl into a hospital just for trying to walk through a mirror. They'd give her a lot of therapy and make sure there are no mirrors in reach, but putting her straight into a mental hospital!? And even if they had, Snow is clearly very recovered from her mirror walking through incident. She doesn't believe that people can walk through mirrors and all the issues that she has now seem to be from growing up in a mental hospital. Even with certain things being revealed at the end of the book and the fantasy elements, I just can't get over how much this put me off the book. 

And finally my last complaint about the book. There are a grand total of 3 boys in this book. All three are in love with Snow. And to all three, Snow shows some sort of interest in back. I have been sick of love triangles for a long time. Adding a third boy to the mix does not improve this. 

I wish I could say some about this book that wasn't negative. I really do. And I honestly hope that the author never reads this review. But this is the way I feel. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Bloomsbury for providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 10 September 2016

I'll Be Home For Christmas (anthology)

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Released: 22nd of September 2016 

The UK's top Young Adult authors join together in this collection of new stories and poems on the theme of home. Contributors include: Tom Becker, Holly Bourne, Sita Brahmachari, Kevin Brooks, Melvin Burgess, Katy Cannon , Cat Clarke, Juno Dawson, Julie Mayhew, Non Pratt, Marcus Sedgwick, Lisa Williamson and Benjamin Zephaniah. GBP1 from the sale of every book will be donated to Crisis, the national homelessness charity. To find out more about Crisis, see www.crisis.org.uk 

What I Have to Say 

This book was beautiful and hard to read in places because of the nature of the subject matter. Some of these stories are tragic, showing teens living on the streets or with really homophobic parents. Other are beautiful and show that love doesn't care who you are or who you love. And then there was the surprise ghost story that I accidentally read in the middle of the night and didn't manage to sleep after. 

As with most anthologies there were some stories that I liked and some that I didn't, but with this one, I think it was only one or two that I didn't like. Most of the stories were were really good. And with such great names involved, that's only to be expected! 

This book truly highlights what it means to be a teenager and the struggles that they face in today's society. Also, buying this book will give a donation to Crisis and will help people living on the streets, so it's really worth it. 


My thanks go to Stripes and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 8 September 2016

The Deviants by CJ Skuse

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320 
Publisher: Mira Ink 
Released: October 2016 

When you set out for revenge, dig two graves

Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.

Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.

When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?

Trigger Warnings (highlight to read) Rape, Child Abuse 

What I Have to Say 

It took me a while to get into this book, but the middle and the end were fantastic. It was very unclear from the start where it was going to go. It could have gone anywhere and I wasn't sure if I was going to like where it ended up. But as I got into it and they started getting their revenge, I really started to get into it. 

The ending was shocking and a complete surprise. I didn't see it coming at all, but it felt like the right end even if it may not have been the end that people may have wanted. It fitted neatly into the dark nature of the book and I felt it was right even if it was only a little optimistic

I have to say though, there are a lot of books like this cropping up where the twist is something that could be very triggering towards certain people, but they have no warning at all that it's coming. As much as the book is improved by the surprise factor of the twist, I do worry about people getting triggered by this sort of thing. 

Even so, this was a really great book. It may be a little slow to start but it's worth the read. 


My thanks go to Netgalley and MiraINK for providing me with this copy for review. 

Monday, 5 September 2016

Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Synopsis (from Goodread

Pages: 306
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Released: 5th May 2016 

As Princess of Wonderland Palace and the future Queen of Hearts, Dinah’s days are an endless monotony of tea, tarts, and a stream of vicious humiliations at the hands of her father, the King of Hearts. The only highlight of her days is visiting Wardley, her childhood best friend, the future Knave of Hearts — and the love of her life.

When an enchanting stranger arrives at the Palace, Dinah watches as everything she’s ever wanted threatens to crumble. As her coronation date approaches, a series of suspicious and bloody events suggests that something sinister stirs in the whimsical halls of Wonderland. It’s up to Dinah to unravel the mysteries that lurk both inside and under the Palace before she loses her own head to a clever and faceless foe.

What I Have to Say 

This was awful. I don't often say this, but I honestly feel completely cheated by this. It wasn't what the blurb promised at all. The characters showed barely any similarities with their counterparts in the original story and most of the time I couldn't really find much sympathy with Dinah because she just felt spineless and spent most of her time moping while trying to suck up to her father. I feel she could have done something more to help herself. 

I initially liked the idea of the Mad Hatter being Dinah's little brother. It seemed like and interesting idea and could have really worked out. Except that the "madness" he showed completely lacked the whimsy of the original character or the realities of mental health disorders. It felt like an insulting caricature of madness made by someone who has a medieval idea of what madness is. 
 
Basically this was a book that tried to show a darker side of Alice in Wonderland and got too far away from the original text. It was very short, but reading it honestly dragged because I wasn't enjoying a word of it. 

I really wish that I could have enjoyed this more, but the fact is, I just didn't. 


My thanks go to Harper Collins and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Cell 7 by Kerry Drewery

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 22nd of September 2016 

Should she live or die? You decide 

An adored celebrity has been killed. Sixteen-year-old Martha Honeydew was found holding a gun, standing over the body.

Now Justice must prevail.

The general public will decide whether Martha is innocent or guilty by viewing daily episodes of the hugely popular TV show Death is Justice, the only TV show that gives the power of life and death decisions - all for the price of a phone call.

Martha has admitted to the crime. But is she guilty? Or is reality sometimes more complicated than the images we are shown on TV?

What I Have to Say 

Just from the concept, I knew this book would be good. It's a little out there. Hopefully, not the sort of thing that would come out of our own society. But it still feels very believable. This concept that is dreadful and terrible and anyone could see is a completely insane idea is so grounded in the world that Drewery has created that you can see how the society has been indoctrinated into believing that this is the way things should be. 

It was really easy to sympathize with Martha too. To feel her suffering as she goes through the torture of each cell as her human rights are being stripped away and she suffers through horrors that no one should ever have to go through. Drewery makes it so that even though it's fiction, the reader feels angry at the society. The hypocritical nature of those in charge and the presenters on the TV show just added to this. 

I loved the bits of the book that were in transcript format as well.  It added to the atmosphere at the book and it made the bits where the presenters were cutting across people in order to hide the truth more effective because you could really see where they were cutting in. 

I've been hearing so many people talking about this book and saying how great it is, but I want to add my voice to the mix. This book is amazing and everyone should read it. 




Thursday, 1 September 2016

The Secret City by C.J. Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 368
Publisher: Atom 
Released: 1st of September 2016 

'Remember: Demons lie'

Locked away inside the fortified walls of Oxford's St Wilfred's College, surrounded by alchemists sworn to protect them, Taylor and Sacha are safe from the Darkness. For now.

But time is short. In seven days Sacha will turn 18, and the ancient curse that once made him invincible will kill him, unleashing unimaginable demonic horror upon the world.

There is one way to stop it.

Taylor and Sacha must go to where the curse was first cast - the medieval French city of Carcassonne - and face the demons.

The journey will be dangerous. And monsters are waiting for them.

But as Darkness descends on Oxford, their choice is stark. They must face everything that scares them, or lose everything they love. 

What I Have to Say 

I can't believe this was only a duology! It was over way too quick for such a great, great series. C.J Daugherty and Carina Rozenfeld just blend so seamlessly on the page leaving gorgeous writing to combine perfectly with wonderful, gripping plot. 

The ending definitely didn't disappoint. It fit perfectly with the rest of the plot, showing a conclusion that the reader has never thought of but that isn't conceived in any way. It was the right solution and fit in nicely to the rules and plot that had been layed out.

I hope these two authors write together again, because they work so well together. 


My thanks go to Netgalley and Atom for providing me with this copy for review.