Tuesday, 30 September 2014

TBR Tuesday: To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Jenny Han

PAGES: 355
RELEASE DATE: 15th April 2014
EDITION: US hardback, purchased
SHELF LIFE: six months

Shug, The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, We’ll Always Have Summer, Burn for Burn, Fire with Fire, Ashes to Ashes

Lara Jean keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her.

They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote her, these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved – five in all. When she writes, she can pour out her heart and soul and say all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly Lara Jean’s love life goes form imaginary to out of control.

Jenny Han’s Summer trilogy is the epitome of my perfect contemporary YA so my need for To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was great. I saved it for as long as I could, but over the weekend, I finally caved. And it was delicious.

Lara Jean, Margot and Kitty are the Song girls. They are a team, a band of sisters to keep daddy under control and to look after each other. Their relationship feels genuine and fraught with the realistic tension of sisters growing up and the threat of growing apart. It’s such a refreshing focus for YA; I want more books to focus on sisterly relationships. The connection between the three girls is constantly evolving over the course of the novel, especially as Margot, the eldest, leaves home to go to college in Scotland. Lara Jean is now the oldest and has to take over the responsibilities of the head of the house.

The loss of Margot from the house throws up an undertone of sadness from me. After their mother’s death it fell to Margot to look after everything; she became the stand-in mum for Lara Jean and Kitty and although she’s judgey, pushy and controlling, I felt sorry for her. She can’t have had much of a childhood with the weight of two sisters on her shoulders.

As well as the new tonne of responsibilities resting with Lara Jean, she also has the escaped love letters to contend with. The very idea makes my blood boil, my skin crawl and my entire body cringe – Lara Jean’s situation is quite possibly one of my very worst nightmares. It changed Lara Jean. She was catapulted into a whole new life at school and challenged the way she thought about people. I have to admit that I veered wildly between my feelings for Peter, and I still can’t decide. Josh, however, has my heart securely packaged. But I’ll let you read it for yourself to see who she chooses, if she chooses at all, that is...

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a gorgeous and heart-warming tale of sisters, falling in love with the one you never expected to and the importance of a love letter. PS I Still Love You can’t come soon enough.

Absolutely not. I’m surprised I held out for as long as I did! I’m a huge fan of Jenny Han’s contemporary and I’ll read all of it.


Monday, 29 September 2014

Dawn, Eve Edwards

Pages: 325
Publisher: Puffin
Release Date: 3rd July 2014
Edition: UK paperback, purchased

Paddington Station,
22 October 1916

Sebastian reached in his pocket for the portrait of Helen he had drawn only last year. ‘I’m looking for a young lass who came through here last night.’

In the midst of the First World War Helen Sandford, a young nurse, has disappeared. Sebastian Trewby is determined to find her so that he can protect her before his flight squadron calls him back for duty.

Helen knows that if Sebastian discovers her it could ruin him. Society wants to persecute her for her German heritage and she is threatened at every turn. Her only hope lies with those that love her, and the authorities are closing in...

I was a little frustrated by the ending of Dusk so my eagerness to start Dawn was slightly less than it should have been. But once I got stuck in, I loved it.

Dawn is written in a non-linear timeline that can occasionally throw you: the story jumps between the perspectives of Sebastian and Helen and from the end of Dusk 1916 to the end of the war in November 2018. It’s a challenging way to tell the story, but, I think, a necessary one. The jumping in time keeps mystery, but also perspective; it throws up the chaotic feeling of expecting the unexpected of war. It’s the perfect backdrop for Helen’s experience of being persecuted for her heritage by the scared, desperate, panicking British public during a time when it felt like they couldn’t do anything so they had to do something. It was a horrible thing to read, the steady degradation of a strong, clever and determined woman at a moment in history when that was needed most.

I was surprised at how strongly Dawn evokes the atmosphere of Britain at war. The mundane actions of ordinary life against the absurdity that Sebastian experienced on the front in Dusk; even Sebastian’s new role of patrolling the skies over enemy lands became routine when he could be shot down at any moment. It also cements the feeling that nothing will ever be the same after this; everyone and everywhere will be forever different.

Helen and Sebastian’s adventures introduced us to a few new characters that captured by heart in Dawn, but mainly Aunt Dee-Dee and Charlie. Aunt Dee-Dee is a woman before her time: a trouser-wearing, marriage-eschewing, sculpting new woman. She’s absolutely brilliant and I adore her. No question about it. Then came cheeky Charlie, one of Sebastian’s fellow pilots: desperate for love, no real personal need to fight in the war and just desperate to get home. He’s a real catch and I loved all of his efforts to bring regular life onto the battlefield. Oh, and he’s Aunt Dee-Dee’s nephew.

Dawn is heartbreaking, compelling and realistic historical fiction and I loved it. I can’t wait to see what era Eve Edwards tackles next.


Sunday, 28 September 2014

Letterbox Love #60

Letterbox Love all of the lovely, lovely books I’ve gotten in the post, bought and everything else. Summaries are taken from the cover, or Amazon/NetGalley/Goodreads in the case of e-books, unless otherwise stated. Hosted by Narratively Speaking.

For review:

The Fall, Bethany Griffin (trade paperback)

Madeline Usher is doomed.

She has spent her life fighting fate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that seems to have mind of its own.

Madeline’s only chance of escape lies in destroying the house. But to do that she risks destroying everything she loves.

A gripping psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classics The Fall of the House of Usher, by the author of the Masque of the Red Death sequence.

I am so excited to delve into this as I loved the Red Death duology. And I didn’t think this was out until January (it’s actually October) so yay! Thanks Indigo!

My True Love Gave to Me, edited Stephanie Perkins

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... This beautiful collection features twelve gorgeously romantic stories set during the festive period, by some of the most talented and exciting YA authors writing today. The stories are filled with the magic of first love and the magic of the holidays.

This book is STUNNINGLY gorgeous. I should wait until closer to Christmas to read this, but I totally won’t. Thanks Macmillan!


Nothing! Except from the pre-orders and the Amazon order I placed on Friday, of course...


Friday, 26 September 2014

Messenger of Fear, Michael Grant

Pages: 309
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Release Date: 28th August 2014
Edition: UK hardcover, purchased

Other Titles by this Author: Gone, Hunger, Lies, Plague, Fear, Light; BSRK, BSRK Reloaded, BSRK Apocalypse; Eve and Adam

“Who are you?”

That was the first question I asked the boy in front of me. The pale, solemn young man in the black coat with small silver skulls for buttons.

But he didn’t answer it. Instead he answered the question I never asked, but which was nevertheless what I really wanted to know.

Am I dead?

No. Not dead, he told me.

But surely not quite alive, either. How could I be? I remembered my name – Mara. But, standing in that ghostly place, still shuddering at the memory of the creeping yello mist that had awoken me in that strange, silent land, I could recall nothing about myself.

And then the names began.

When I heard about Messenger of Fear I thought it sounded cool, but my guilt over not having finished the Gone series held me back. Then I read Carly’s review over at Writing from the Tub and I went out and bought it that afternoon. So glad I did!

Messenger of Fear is a novel of mystery and I have to admit that for most of the novel I had very little idea of what was going on. Just like Mara. And Mara didn’t have a clue. She awoke to clouds of cloying mist, an unbelievably beautiful boy in a long black coat and no memories. Where was she? Who was she? What was happening? Answers to the questions that Mara (and I) had very barely drip fed by Messenger on an absolutely, essential-only need to know basis. And even though the lack of information was frustrating, it was a good kind and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

As we started to learn the secrets of this place that Mara had found herself in and about her own situation; a world of balance, retribution, fear and judgement lies in her future. There are gods and potential demons and a whole host of temptation that leads Mara to a shocking twist that finally reveals what happened and how she got to be Messenger’s apprentice. I had guessed something in the vicinity of what happened, but I was still surprised.

Messenger of Fear is an addictive and intriguing start to a new series and I can’t wait to find out more about Messenger, Mara’s journey and the world she’s been thrown into.