Thursday, 18 January 2018

Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Synopsis (from Goodread)

Pages: 288
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 16th of January 2018 

Maya Aziz is torn between futures: the one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter (i.e.; staying nearby in Chicago and being matched with a "suitable" Muslim boy), and the one where she goes to film school in New York City--and maybe, just maybe, kisses a guy she's only known from afar. There's the also the fun stuff, like laughing with her best friend Violet, making on-the-spot documentaries, sneaking away for private swimming lessons at a secret pond in the woods. But her world is shattered when a suicide bomber strikes in the American heartland; by chance, he shares Maya's last name. What happens to the one Muslim family in town when their community is suddenly consumed with hatred and fear?

What I Have to Say 

This is a beautiful story with really great and interesting characters. Maya was so easy to like and get interested in. I enjoyed her funny interactions with both the boys she dated, her friend and her aunt. I wanted so much for her to get to go to film school and get what she wanted. 

The racism and terroism attack made it really interesting, especially with the bomber sharing Maya's last name, showing an important glance into what it's like to be Muslim after an attack. It showed the way that people are quick to take "revenge" on the Muslims in their community, taking out their anger on innocent people. 

I enjoyed every twist and turn of this book, watching Maya struggle to free herself from the overprotectiveness of her parents and chase her dreams of filmaking. I would definitely read more from this author. 

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

Monday, 15 January 2018

Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten

Synopsis (Goodreads

Pages: 304 
Publisher: Electric Monkey 
Released: 11th of January 2018

No one is good enough for Xavier. Not according to Sasha, his best friend. There's nothing Sasha wouldn't do to protect Xavier from getting hurt, especially by his cheating ex Ivy, who's suddenly slithered back into the picture. Worried that Xavier is ready to forgive and forget, Sasha decides to do a little catfishing. She poses as a hot guy online, to prove cheaters never change.

But Sasha's plan goes wrong fast, and soon the lies lead down a path from which there's no return . . . 

What I Have to Say 

This book was absolutely not what I expected. It changed so much and so quickly throughout the book, often changing the feel of the book or even what you think you've read so much. I liked it. I think. It's hard to really say when it changed so much. I definitely liked the catfishing element of it and what it sort of became. Then the twist in the middle shocked me a lot and I wasn't really prepared for it, but it was okay. It all makes sense in the end and you can see where it comes together.  So I liked it over all but there were a lot of times where it was like what's going on. 

I liked the characters a lot. I liked how they were so defined. I think that made the book for me really. Though I think i would have liked to hear more about Ivy and her viewpoint. There wasn't really much time to get to know her and understand why she treated Xavier the way she did. 

It's a good book, but I think you have to like dark stories. I think it threw me a bit because I was so unprepared for quite how dark it was going to go. I also felt more could have been said about Sasha's bisexuality. Because it was just sort of thrown out there that she liked girls as well and then it wasn't really picked up again. For a while, I wanted her and Ivy to get together, because I thought that would be a good twist and be interesting. 

So yeah, mostly just prepare yourself for the fact that it gets really really dark. 

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

Thursday, 11 January 2018

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 384
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 2nd of January 2018 

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself. 

What I Have to Say 

I was surprised by how hard I found it to get into this book. Normally, Holly Black is an author who can capture me instantly and keep me hooked on a book, but I didn't really get that until the end, which was amazing. I wonder if maybe it was because of what this book was leading up to. There wasn't really a lot of story other than survival until half way through and even then, it didn't really heat up until the last few chapters, so it felt a bit like a setting up book for the next one than an actual book in it's own right. 

I liked that the obsession that Cardan has for Jude isn't romanticised. Throughout the book, he torments and abuses Jude and though it shown to come from feelings about her several times, it's never looked upon as something good. It's shown as love corrupted. It's like a hatred thing, he has such powerful feelings for her that he doesn't want to have that it turns into an intense hatred of her and until the end, she never sees it as anything but hatred and she continues to hate him through. I really hope this continues throughout the rest of the series and any relationship between them is shown as toxic and awful. 

I also loved the way that everything was turned on it's head and nothing turned out to be as it seemed. I think the first half of the book felt too simple for me. It was too easy to see who the good guys were and who were the bad. Black showed that things are never that easy in faerie and the people you expect to be good will always betray you. 

I'm looking forward to the next book, but I'm sad at how hard I found it to get into this one. 

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

Monday, 8 January 2018

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 288
Publisher: Penguin
Released: 11th of January 2018

Ella Black seems to live the life most other seventeen-year-olds would kill for . . .

Until one day, telling her nothing, her parents whisk her off to Rio de Janeiro. Determined to find out why, Ella takes her chance and searches through their things.

And realises her life has been a lie.

Her mother and father aren't hers at all. Unable to comprehend the truth, Ella runs away, to the one place they'll never think to look - the favelas.

But there she learns a terrible secret - the truth about her real parents and their past. And the truth about a mother, desperate for a daughter taken from her seventeen years ago . . . 

What I Have to Say 

I didn't like this book that much. I didn't like the The One Memory of Flora Banks either, but that was written so much with that character's voice and her memory problems in mind that I wanted to give the author another chance. And I warmed to her writing style a lot more, but she still had this habit of going through everything that the character knows about the situation every few chapters. It may be fairly realistic when you're in this type of situation to stop and take stock of what you know, but in a book it makes it repetitive and annoying. 

I also felt the multiple personality/ dissociative disorder stuff was kind of harmful to people who suffer from that kind of thing. Whenever you see an alter personality in a book or a film or anything really it's always a bad one. And sure maybe that helps your story seem more dramatic if your character is pushing her to kill people all the time, but there are real people out there living in a world where that's what people think their condition means. If the market was more saturated with positive books or films then it wouldn't be so big of a deal, but everything out there just makes people more scared of the condition. 

I don't know how much research Barr did, but the whole thing felt clumsy and like she hadn't thought about the people suffering through this sort of thing.

As happens so much of the time, this book uses mental health issues as a form of entertainment for those not living through it and I'm getting pretty sick of it. 

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

Monday, 1 January 2018

The Secrets of a Teenage Heiress by Katy Birchall

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Publisher: Egmont 
Released: 11th of January 2018 

Flick's family have owned The Royale – one of London's most prestigious hotels – for generations. But Flick isn't that interested. She is interested in the newest guest – superstar celebrity Skylar Chase, and Sky's mega-famous group of friends, including dreamy YouTube star, Ethan Duke. But just as Flick gets the chance to join their glittering squad, she gets grounded following an unfortunate incident involving a prince, a wardrobe and a selfie stick (it could have happened to anyone!). With only her Instagram star pet dachshund, Fritz, for company, will Flick find a way to escape The Royale and join the fame game?

What I Have to Say 

Katy Birchall's books are always a load of fun. She shows realistic teenagers getting into high jinks and escapades and generally getting into trouble. She doesn't shy away from the personality traits that teenagers often show, simply by being young. Flick is very self-centred and isn't very aware of people around her, something that we see change throughout the course of the book. 

I loved the general atmosphere of the hotel. I loved the family feel with the workers and the two families at the centre of the book. I love the idea in general of living in a hotel and having your family run it. I don't think that's something I could ever get tired of, because there's so much possibility for interesting characters and scenery. 

And Fritz was wonderful. Dogs in books usually are, but the way he had his own little fan club and all his outfits, it added a bit of adorable background to the book that I loved. 

I'm hoping this becomes a series. 

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

Thursday, 28 December 2017

The Evacuee Christmas by Katie King

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320
Publisher: HQ
Released: 19th of October 2017 

Autumn 1939 and London prepares to evacuate its young. In No 5 Jubilee Street, Bermondsey, ten-year-old Connie is determined to show her parents that she’s a brave girl and can look after her twin brother, Jessie. She won’t cry, not while anyone’s watching.

In the crisp Yorkshire Dales, Connie and Jessie are billeted to a rambling vicarage. Kindly but chaotic, Reverend Braithwaite is determined to keep his London charges on the straight and narrow, but the twins soon find adventures of their own. As autumn turns to winter, Connie’s dearest wish is that war will end and they will be home for Christmas. But this Christmas Eve there will be an unexpected arrival…

What I Have to Say 

I must say I expected more Christmas from a book with Christmas in the title. I expected a lot of war time spirit, scraping together a fun and joyous celebration with whatever they can because they don't have much. There was a bit of war time spirit, but there wasn't really that much Christmas. There were preparations for Christmas but Christmas day was a paragraph on the last page and the preparations only started in the last fifteen percent of the book. It left me a bit disappointed, because I was hoping for a cosy holiday read. 

I also didn't get on much with the writing style. The author explained a lot of the character's thoughts in very great detail, often stopping in the middle of a conversation to think things through and work out the best way to respond for paragraph after paragraph. It gave the feeling that the characters were just standing awkwardly staring at each other until they were ready to continue. There was just too much exposition and the characters always seemed to be doing what was best for the situation, when real people aren't like that, because in real life, people don't think things through like that, they just act. 

I liked the characters well enough, but that's really all I can say for this book. I wanted to like it more, but I just didn't get along with it. 

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

Monday, 25 December 2017

Where the Stars Rise edited by Lucas K. Law and Derwin Mak

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 352
Publisher: Laksa Media Groups
Released: 8th of October 2017 



Follow twenty-three science fiction and fantasy authors on their journeys through Asia and beyond. Stories that explore magic and science. Stories about love, revenge, and choices. Stories that challenge ideas about race, belonging, and politics. Stories about where we come from and where we are going.

Each wrestling between ghostly pasts and uncertain future. Each trying to find a voice in history.

Orphans and drug-smuggling in deep space. Mechanical arms in steampunk Vancouver. Djinns and espionage in futuristic Istanbul. Humanoid robot in steamy Kerala. Monsters in the jungles of Cebu. Historic time travel in Gyeongbok Palace. A rocket launch in post-apocalyptic Tokyo. A drunken ghost in Song Dynasty China. A displaced refugee skating on an ice planet. And much more.

Embrace them as you take on their journeys. And don’t look back . . .

What I Have to Say 

Diversity is really the best word for this book. There was a huge range of characters with backgrounds from all across Asia, showing the wide rage of different cultures that Asia has to offer. There were characters with all kinds of background, from rich to poor and so, so many characters with various scars or disabilities. Though there was a very sad lack of sexual and gender diversity, in all other respects, it showed so many different kinds of people. 

It also showed a huge range of sci-fi, from very hard sci-fi to the softer stuff. I'm not a massive fan of the really hard sci-fi. I love a soft urban story, so there were a few stories that were a bit too much for me, but I have to say most of them I really enjoyed and there wasn't a single story I absolutely hated. 

There is so much I can say about the stories, but I'm choosing one to highlight and that's Back to Myan by Regina Kanyu Wang. This beautiful story of a girl returning to her native planet. A planet that she has no memories of and that has been completely changed. It shows the brutalism of  humanity and I think would resonate with anyone who has had their homeland taken over or destroyed by Western society. 

Anyone who has even the slightest interest in Sci-fi or Asian culture should read this book. I guarantee you will find something to love. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Laksa Media Groups for providing me with this copy for review.