Thursday, 19 January 2017

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: HQ
Released: 9th of February 2017 

Fifteen-year-old Aki Simon has a theory.

And it’s mostly about sex.

No, it isn’t that kind of theory. Aki already knows she’s bisexual–-even if, until now, it’s mostly been in the hypothetical sense.

Aki’s theory is that she’s only got one shot at living an interesting life–-and that means she’s got to stop sitting around and thinking so much. It’s time for her to actually do something. Or at least try.

So when Aki and her friend Lori set off on a trip to a small Mexican town for the summer, and Aki meets Christa–-slightly-older, far-more-experienced–-it seems her theory is prime for the testing.

But something tells her its not going to be that easy… 

What I Have to Say 

This is both a wonderful guide book for having safe sex between two women and a beautiful story about two girls having to hide a relationship for fear of the reaction of those around them. Let's be honest here, schools and even a lot of youth health clinics don't exactly provide details on how to keep safe when having gay sex. At best, you have to ask for the information, at worst there's no information to be had. So having this book, which shows the realities of how to practice safe sex could be a life saver for many girls and women. 

What I liked most about it though, is the fact that from the start they used the word bisexual. We are finally starting to see a world where more and more bisexual characters are being written about and I am so happy to see such positive bisexual representation. 

I also really liked fact that it showed a relationship which, partly by it's need to be secret, consumed the life of the main character. It is a problem with a lot of first loves that it is easy to get carried away with your new partner and forget about the people in the life around you. It was nice to see this addressed with Aki and Lori. 

Whatever your sexuality, this book is thrilling, beautifully written and full of sneaking away to catch moments of romance, but it is also so incredibly important for lesbian and bisexual girls. 

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

Monday, 16 January 2017

Take the Key and Lock Her Up Ally Carter

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320
Publisher: Orchard Books 
Released: 26th January 2017 


Centuries ago, the royal family of Adria was killed . . . or so everyone thought.
Now Grace Blakely knows the truth:

There was one survivor, and that survivor’s blood runs through her veins. This simple fact could cause a revolution — which is why some people will stop at nothing to keep it from coming to light.

There is only one way for Grace to save herself, save her family, and save the boy she loves. She must outmaneuver her foes, cut through the web of lies that has surrounded her for years, and go back to the source of all her troubles, despite the risk.

If she wins, she will inherit a throne.

And if she loses, she will inherit the fate of all the dead princesses who came before her.

What I Have to Say 

This was a great final book for the Embassy Row Trilogy. It had everything I've come to expect from Ally Carter. It had adventure, mystery and surprising twists and turns. Except for Grace's self-sacrifice. Even though she hadn't completely given up, it felt so out of character for her. Grace fights, always, from the start to the end of her life she has always been a fighter, whether it's fighting to keep up with her older brother, or fighting for her life. The lull of her acceptance of her fate just didn't feel right for her character at all. 

But the rest of the book was perfect. The ending felt completely right. With such a situation that seems so impossible to fix without bloodshed and destruction, it felt amazing that Carter managed to pull the perfect solution out of her hat, but she managed it and I really liked the way it turned out. 

I've always preferred the Gallagher Girls to this series, but I think that any book by Ally Carter is well worth reading, she always knows how to tell a thrilling and addictive story. 

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

Saturday, 14 January 2017

The Memory Book by Lara Avery

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 368
Publisher: Quercus Children's Books 
Released: 26th of January 2017 

Samantha McCoy has it all mapped out. First she's going to win the national debating championship, then she's going to move to New York and become a human rights lawyer.

But when Sam discovers that a rare disease is going to take away her memory, the future she'd planned so perfectly is derailed before its started.

Realising that her life won't wait to be lived, Sam sets out on a summer of firsts.

The first party. 
The first rebellion. 
The first friendship. 
The last love.

What I Have to Say 

This book broke my heart. It set up Sammy as this determined girl with a clear idea of where she wants to go in the future. She is so ready to go to University, to change her life completely. But right from the start, it tells us exactly why she can't have that future. And we, the reader, despite everything, want her to succeed. 

At first, it was impossible to see Sammy succeeding in her goals. The stark realities of her illness were spelled out in front of us on the page and all that Sammy is doing is forcing her way through it with denial and ambition. But as the story progressed and more of Sammy's personality is revealed, I felt myself caught up in her determination and her very practical way of dealing with it. It made it seem entirely plausible. Of course she was going to get to NYU. Of course she'd manage to defeat this. 

And then the illness starts to progress. 

It's a story that's heartbreaking, tragic and so beautiful, It may be about a terminal illness and Sammy fighting to keep a hold of herself, but really, behind all that, it's about a girl who is learning how to live. 

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

Thursday, 12 January 2017

A Girl Called Owl by Amy Wilson

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 336
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books 
Released: 26th of January 2017 

It's bad enough having a mum dippy enough to name you Owl, but when you've got a dad you've never met, a best friend who needs you more than ever, and a new boy at school giving you weird looks, there's not a lot of room for much else. 

So when Owl starts seeing strange frost patterns on her skin, she's tempted to just burrow down under the duvet and forget all about it. Could her strange new powers be linked to her mysterious father?And what will happen when she enters the magical world of winter for the first time?

What I Have to Say 

An interesting new take on the myths and legends that surround the seasons, A Girl Called Owl explores the suffering of a young girl who doesn't know who her father is and has a mother who doesn't seem to be willing to share a single detail but fairy tails, and what happens when those fairy tails turn out to not be quite the stories they seem to be. 

The desperation that Owl shows on wanting a father is shown beautifully and juxtaposed against the subplot of her friend's trouble with her parents separation. But I feel as though the fight between them was pushed in for no reason but to create conflict. From the start, Owl's friend was on her side believing her, so I feel like if Owl had been honest with her from the start, nothing would have happened. 

All in all, I did really like this book and the mythology it explored, but I felt it could have been a bit more thought out and crafted. 

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

Monday, 9 January 2017

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books 
Released: 29th of December 2016 

How can you have a future if you can’t accept your past?
Mel Hannigan doesn’t have it easy. Mourning the death of her firework of a brother, trying to fit back into a school she’s been conspicuously absent from and struggling to deal with the loss of three friendships that used to mean everything. Struggling to deal with a condition that not even her closest friends know about.

So Mel tries to lock away her heart, to numb the highs and lows, to live quietly without hope – but also without pain. Until someone new shows her that it can be worth taking a risk, that opening up to life is what can make it glorious…

And that maybe, Mel can discover a tragic kind of wonderful of her very own.

What I Have to Say 

A book that you can sink into and just read without any distractions is always a good find. Lindstrom's characters both in Not If I See You First and A Tragic Kind of Wonderful are so easy to get to know and with both books I've found myself completely involved in their world in a way that some books completely fail to achieve. 

This is a book about acceptance. To gain any real kind of friendship or relationship, Mel has to let them into her life. She has to share her secrets and hope that they still like her after they find out. It's a struggle that I think many of us face in some way or another and so is easy to relate too. I also think the feeling of being watched all the time and having people hyper-attentive to your change in moods is another thing that a lot of people with mental illness can relate to. 

I am not familiar enough with Bipolar Disorder to say if Lindstrom has depicted it well, but the rest of the book, the characters, the fear of telling people and the feeling of having a mental illness in general was well captured. 

Eric Lindstrom is definitely an author I trust to get a good story from. 

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

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: Walker 
Released: 5th of January 2017 

With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

What I Have to Say 

This book blew me away. It was amazing Considering the hype that surrounded this book from the day it was announced, that surprises me. I get very easily taken in by hype that leads me to getting so excited for books that they fall flat when I finally get to them. Because how can any book live up the the expectations I've got for it? Well Wing Jones soared passed my expectations and was so much better than I expected it to be. 

First of all, obviously it has diversity going for it. A lot of Wing's struggles are based on her her race and the fact that she's not Chinese and she's not black. People can't fit her into either box, and in our society of labels and categories, not fitting into a certain box is very alienating. 

And then things change and Webber shows just how well she can show emotion. She moved me to tears several times during this beautiful story of a girl struggling through tragedy and finding herself along the way. 


Saturday, 7 January 2017

Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 512
Publisher: Quercus Children's Books 
Released: 12th of January 2017

All Etta Spencer wanted was to make her violin debut when she was thrust into a treacherous world where the struggle for power could alter history. After losing the one thing that would have allowed her to protect the Timeline, and the one person worth fighting for, Etta awakens alone in an unknown place and time, exposed to the threat of the two groups who would rather see her dead than succeed. When help arrives, it comes from the last person Etta ever expected - Julian Ironwood, the Grand Master's heir who has long been presumed dead, and whose dangerous alliance with a man from Etta's past could put them both at risk.

Meanwhile, Nicholas and Sophia are racing through time in order to locate Etta and the missing astrolabe with Ironwood travelers hot on their trail. They cross paths with a mercenary-for-hire, a cheeky girl named Li Min who quickly develops a flirtation with Sophia. But as the three of them attempt to evade their pursuers, Nicholas soon realises that one of his companions may have ulterior motives.

As Etta and Nicholas fight to make their way back to one another, from Imperial Russia to the Vatican catacombs, time is rapidly shifting and changing into something unrecognisable ... and might just run out on both of them

What I Have to Say 

This book was a lot better than the one before it. Without the long sea voyage to slow it down, the pages of Wayfarer held so much more action than Passenger, enough to keep me interested and engaged all the time. I think it's a trap that's easy to fall into. Long journeys often lead to slow writing and it just turns me off from a book. 

It took some time to get back with the characters and intricacies of the plot, but once I did it was much better, This time I really got into the story. I really felt for Etta being pushed into a fight that her ancestors have been fighting for thousands of years. And Etta and Nicholas, being faced with the choice of losing each other forever. 

I'm sad that I got into these books only with the sequel. I hope that there might be more follow on books in the future.  

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