Monday, 12 March 2018

Goodbye, Perfect by Sara Barnard

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320 
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books 
Released: 8th of February 2018 

When I was wild, you were steady . . . 
Now you are wild - what am I? 

Eden McKinley knows she can’t count on much in this world, but she can depend on Bonnie, her solid, steady, straight-A best friend. So it’s a bit of a surprise when Bonnie runs away with the boyfriend Eden knows nothing about five days before the start of their GCSEs. Especially when the police arrive on her doorstep and Eden finds out that the boyfriend is actually their music teacher, Mr Cohn.

Sworn to secrecy and bound by loyalty, only Eden knows Bonnie’s location, and that’s the way it has to stay. There’s no way she’s betraying her best friend. Not even when she’s faced with police questioning, suspicious parents and her own growing doubts.

As the days pass and things begin to unravel, Eden is forced to question everything she thought she knew about the world, her best friend and herself. 

What I Have to Say 

Sara Barnard is probably one of my favourite authors and while this book didn't blow me away quite as much as Beautiful, Broken Things or A Quiet Kind of Thunder, I still really liked it. It was really interesting to see the narrative of a teacher-student relationship from the perspective of a best friend. While obviously her choice to be loyal to her friend and keep her location a secret was obviously not the right one, I can understand how hard it can be to know what to do in this situation. 

I did feel that maybe it would have been good to see more of Bonnie before she ran away. We were left listening to Eden talk about what Bonnie was like before and how her friend seemed to be completely different to the way she thought she was, but we only really met the Bonnie who had been groomed, the Bonnie who thought she was in love and so we only had Eden's thoughts on the subject. 

I think the thing that made this book for me though was the relationships between Eden and her family. Being adopted and forming relationships with a new family is always an interesting topic to read about. It was really nice to see such a positive relationship between her and her adoptive parents and the contrast between the relationship with her biological sister and her adoptive sister. It was good to see a fresh take on the adoption subject. 

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

Saturday, 10 March 2018

The Little Cafe in Copenhagen by Julie Caplin

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 272
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Released: 1st of February 2018

Welcome to the little cafe in Copenhagen where the smell of cinnamon fills the air and the hot chocolate is as smooth as silk.

Publicist Kate Sinclair’s life in London is everything she thought she wanted: success, glamour and a charming boyfriend. Until that boyfriend goes behind her back and snatches a much sought-after promotion from her.Heartbroken and questioning everything, Kate needs to escape.

Leaving behind rush hour and late nights in the office for a city break in beautiful Copenhagen, Kate discovers how to live life ‘the Danish way’. From candles and cosy nights in to the easy smiles of tall, gorgeous Vikings and eating your body weight in pastries (ok, that’s just her), the city offers her a new perspective.

Can the secrets of hygge and happiness lead her to her own happily-ever-after?

What I Have to Say 

This book made me long for a cosy blanket and a nice warm fire with a lovely cup of hot chocolate to while away the night. It made me want to explore Copenhagen and learn more about Hygge. It really did a good job of showing the concept and Kate's reaction to it. 

It delved into the differences between Danish culture and the more work orientated, busy lifestyle of the UK. The difference between a fast paced job in London and a nice little café in Denmark was very clear how very different things were. 

I loved the group dynamic of the journalists who went on the Copenhagen trip, how they were all changed and brought together in different ways by Hygge and the café. Each of the characters were so different and were changed in different ways throughout the books. 

I really can't wait to read the next book and see more of Sophie's story. 

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

Monday, 5 March 2018

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320 
Publisher: Solaris 
Released: 6th of February 2018 

Determined to escape her old life, misfit and student geologist Hallie packs up her life in England and heads to Paris. She falls in with the eclectic expat community as a bartender at the notorious Millie’s, located next to the Moulin Rouge.

Here she meets Gabriela, a bartender who guides her through this strange nocturnal world, and begins to find a new family. But Millie’s is not all that it seems: a bird warns Hallie to get her feathers in order, a mysterious woman shows up claiming to be a chronometrist, and Gabriela is inexplicably unable to leave Paris.

Then Hallie discovers a time portal located in the keg room. Over the next nine months, irate customers will be the least of her concerns, as she navigates time-faring through the city’s turbulent past and future, falling in love, and coming to terms with her own precarious sense of self. 

What I Have to Say 

This was beautiful, moving and steeped in French history. It was definitely a world that I could fall in love with, with a system of time travel that was interesting and an order of people who I'd definitely like to find more about. 

This was a book steeped in politics, past, present and future and so it was really interesting to read about. It was also really cool to see Hallie find a new life for herself, both in present day Paris just after the revolution. I really liked seeing the past through her eyes and watching her meet people and work to find a way to live in such dangerous part of history. 

Hallie shows a bravery during her adventures that goes beyond the weapon wielding badassery of most YA girls. This is a bravery that has a different fight. This is a girl who's dropped into history at random and just makes a life for herself until she can return to her own time. 

The strength showed by all the characters was truly something inspiring. 

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

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Far From The Tree by Robin Benway

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384 
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's UK 
Released: 8th of February 2018 

Being the middle child has its ups and downs.

But for Grace, an only child who was adopted at birth, discovering that she is a middle child is a different ride altogether. After putting her own baby up for adoption, she goes looking for her biological family, including—

Maya, her loudmouthed younger bio sister, who has a lot to say about their newfound family ties. Having grown up the snarky brunette in a house full of chipper redheads, she’s quick to search for traces of herself among these not-quite-strangers. And when her adopted family’s long-buried problems begin to explode to the surface, Maya can’t help but wonder where exactly it is that she belongs.

And Joaquin, their stoic older bio brother, who has no interest in bonding over their shared biological mother. After seventeen years in the foster care system, he’s learned that there are no heroes, and secrets and fears are best kept close to the vest, where they can’t hurt anyone but him. 

What I Have to Say 

This was a touching story about family in all shapes and sizes. It looked at the ups and downs of adoption and fostering and the importance of finding your place in it all, whatever stage you're at. It was really interesting to see the three siblings meeting each other for the first time and how they got along. I felt this book did a good balance of showing the biological siblings and the adopted families and how it affected them all. 

Relationships are a massive part of this book. The relationships in Maya's family and especially the relationship between her and her sister were interesting. Being the adopted daughter in a family of redheads cannot be easy. It was also good to see her sister's reaction to her looking for her birth mum. 

The character's felt really realistic. I got very invested in them and wanted them to succeed. Joaquin broke my heart a few times with his various issues with his foster parents. They were just so perfect for him but he couldn't see past his fear that they would send him back. 

This was touching, very emotional but so, so good. I definitely want to look out for this author in the future. 

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

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Front Lines, Silver Stars and Purple Hearts by Michael Grant (Trilogy review)

Front Lines 

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 467
Publisher: Electric Monkey 
Released: 28th of January 2018

1942. The fate of the world rests on a knife’s edge. And the soldiers who can tip the balance . . . are girls.

Set in an alternate World War II where young women are called up to fight alongside men, this is the story of Rio Richlin and her friends as they go into battle against Hitler’s forces.

But not everyone believes that they should be on the front lines. Now Rio and her friends must fight not only to survive, but to prove their courage and ingenuity. Because the fate of the world is in the hands of the soldier girls.

Silver Stars 

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 496 
Publisher: Electric Monkey 
Released: 9th of February 2017 

Summer 1943. The enemy has been bloodied, but Nazi Germany is very far from beaten. Now the American army is moving on to their next target: the Italian island of Sicily.

With heavy memories of combat, the three young soldier girls – Rio, Frangie and Rainy – now know what they are willing to do to save themselves, and understand the consequences of those actions. On the front lines, they will again come face to face with the brutality of war until they win or die, while simultaneously fighting their own personal battles. No one will emerge unscathed. 

Purple Hearts 

Synopsis (From Goodreads

Pages: 480
Publisher: Electric Monkey 
Released: 8th of February 2018 

It's 1944, and it feels to everyone like the war will never end. Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr and Rainie Shulterman have all received accolades, been 'heroes', earned promotion - in short, they've all done 'enough' to allow them to leave this nightmare and go home. But they don't.

D-Day, June 6th 1944. On that day, many still doubted the American soldier.

By June 7th no one did.

What I Have to Say 

I liked this series. I really did. But all through reading it and even now, I just can't help wondering why. Why write an alternative history? Why set it in WW2? As books like Code Name Verity have showed, there are so many women who were brave and worked hard as spies or resistance workers or pilots during WW2. And if you want female soldiers, why not look at the real integration of women into the military? It's an interesting concept, but it feels like it's undermining a lot of the real women who put themselves in danger to stop Hitler. 

That and the swearing are the problems I have with it really. I know it's the way publishing does it but I don't see how putting the word "fug" in everywhere is any different than actually using the word. We all know it's the word. All the kids know it's the word. Just let the authors say fuck. 

The characters and the friendships formed throughout the book was really what made the series worth it for me. These characters are the sort that I'm going to miss. I really liked seeing Frangie making something of herself as a black woman in the army. All the emphasis on keeping each other alive and how close the girls got to one another despite being in different units was amazing as well. 

Rio Richlin will be my hero for a while I think. Though Frangie was my favourite. I'm a bit sad to have no more books about Rio, Frangie and Rainy to read. 

My thanks go to Electric Monkey for providing me with a copy for Purple Hearts for review 

Monday, 26 February 2018

The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320 
Publisher: Ebury Digital 
Released: 8th of February 2018 

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open! 

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical...

What I Have to Say 

I loved this book so much when I was reading it. But it's one of those that ends up leaving you a bit sad. It was a beautiful book though. Full of amazing things. I love books with this kind of magical surrealism. I love books that take an aspect of life and add something amazing to it. The emporium is a place that you will fall in love with. You'll want to visit and buy toys from it. Until it all goes wrong of course. 

The whole thing with the toy soldiers, for me, was the perfect metaphor for the conflict of the pre-WW1 mentality that war is glorious and the post- WW1 disillusionment that most of the soldiers suffered. It was really interesting to see these two mentalities go up against each other, as they must have done constantly with soldiers who had been to war and people who hadn't. To see this argument be played out over a bunch of toy soldiers was a really cool was to do it. 

I think this is a book that will stay with me for quite a while. I loved the characters so much and elements like the toy soldiers and the paper trees and Sirius the patchwork dog are all things that I'll remember fondly for some time. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 24 February 2018

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 359 
Publisher: Penguin Random House 
Released: 8th of February 2018 

 Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice's life on the road, always a step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice's grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate - the Hazel Wood - Alice learns how bad her luck can really get. Her mother is stolen away - by a figure who claims to come from the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother's stories are set. Alice's only lead is the message her mother left behind: STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD. 

To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother's tales began . .

What I Have to Say 

This book was creepy. So, so creepy. The best way to describe it is that it had the atmosphere of a horror movie when you know something horrific is going to happen but it hasn't happened yet and you're just sitting there waiting for it to happen. Luckily for me, it never got into outright horror, though I don't know how horror fans will like this, it was perfect for me. I like creepy things but I get scared so easily and then can't sleep. 

The whole plot was full of mystery and suspense. It maybe had quite a long set up for how short it was when things actually went down, but there was so much to explore. From the book written by Alice's grandmother, the strangers stalking Alice throughout her childhood, to the story that shares Alice's name and the disappearance of her mother, there are so many different arcs to this story that come together beautifully at the end. 

Just be careful reading this on the train or you might end up missing your stop! 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for providing me with this copy for review.