Monday 29 April 2013

Bite Size Books (2): What Really Happened in Peru, The Secret of Ella and Micha and Crossing the Line

The Bane Chronicles 1: What Really Happened in Peru – Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan

Pages: 40
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry Books
Release Date: 16th April 2013
Series: The Bane Chronicles
Edition: e-novella, bought

From Goodreads: There are good reasons Peru is off-limits to Magnus Bane. Follow Magnus’ Peruvian escapades as he drags his fellow warlocks Ragnor Fell and Catarina Loss into trouble, learns several instruments (which he plays shockingly), dances (which he does shockingly), and disgraces his host nation by doing something unspeakable to the Nazca Lines.

I think that the whole idea of a series of short stories about Magnus Bane is brilliant. Add in Maureen Johnson and Sarah Rees Brennan and you have some serious win on your hands! It’s a very different tone to both The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices and really mixes the tones of Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan. It’s a great combo!

Through a series of Magnus’ escapades with Ragnor Fell and Catarina Loss in Peru, we get to see another side of Magnus. We see him fall in love, get his heart broken, get so drunk he wants to become a cacti and torment poor Ragnor until he wants to go home. I loved that there was a lot more to him that we’ve seen so far in TMI and TID.

I’m really looking forward to the next instalment!

The Secret of Ella and Micha – Jessica Sorensen

Pages: 309
Publisher: Sphere
Release Date: 11th April 2013
Series: The Secret
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Ella and Micha have been best friends since childhood until a disastrous night that sent Ella fleeing to college. Back for the summer, Ella tries to keep her past buried, but struggles under the gaze of Micha who is trying to get his best friend back.

I can officially give Jessica Sorensen the accolade of writing a new adult novel that I actually enjoyed! The sultry, tense atmosphere is supported by interesting characters with mysterious and dodgy pasts and an involving relationship. Neither Ella or Micha were what I expected, but I loved their chemistry and I was championing them from the start.

My usual complaint with new adult novels seems to be poor writing and the tendency for the boks to have an abundance of frequent, graphic sex. While The Secret of Ella and Micha had sex and sexy scenes in it, I thought they were done fairly tastefully and the prose was easy, flowing and quick to read. This is definitely more in the vain of a sexier Simone Elkeles or Jennifer Echols than Abbi Glines. Thankfully for me!

I’m rather looking forward to The Forever of Ella and Micha actually!

Crossing the Line – Katie McGarry

Pages: 67
Publisher: MiraInk
Release Date: 1st April 2013
Series: Pushing the Limits
Edition: e-novella, bought

From Goodreads: Lila McCormick first met Lincoln Turner when tragedy struck both their lives. But she never expected their surprise encounter would lead to two years of exchanging letters – or that she’d fall for the boy she’s only seen once. Their relationship is a secret, but Lila feels closer to Lincoln than anyone else. Until she finds out that he lied to her about the one thing she depended on him the most.

Hurting Lila is the last thing Lincoln wanted. For two years, her letters have been the only thing getting him through the day. Admitting his feelings would cross a line he’s never dared breach before. But Lincoln will do whatever it takes to fix his mistakes, earn Lila’s forgiveness – and finally win a chance to be with the girl he loves.

Pushing the Limits was one of my favourite books from last year so I couldn’t wait to get a sneak peek into Lila and Lincoln’s story. The letters between Lincoln and Lila at the beginning of the story and then the short excerpts at the beginning of each chapter were brilliant. I think they gave a nice depth to them both in such a short word count. Katie McGarry is extremely good at drawing damaged characters and rocky relationships and that really came through in Crossing the Line.

Even though my heart broke for Lincoln and Katie McGarry’s prose is addictive, easy to read and involving, but I really wasn’t a fan of how dependent Lila’s future and education was on Lincoln’s decision. Although everything with her was resolved and her strength returned, I thought that was a bit of a worrying seed to plant. Luckily, it didn't deter my enjoyment of Crossing the Line and I’m still incredibly excited to read Dare You To when it’s released in June.


Sunday 28 April 2013

In My Mailbox 155

This meme was started by Kristi of The Story Siren who was inspired by Alea from Pop Culture Junkie. Check out their blogs for more information. All summaries are from the book jackets unless otherwise stated.

For review:

 The Originals – Cat Patrick

I glance at the three baby portraits in thick wooden frames. I feel a familiar prickling on the back of my neck. Because I know there’s another picture somewhere – and the baby in that photo looks identical to the babies on the wall. Somewhere, there’s a photo of the Original.

Ella, Betsey and I look like sisters: triplets, you might think.
But that’s not what we are at all.
We are clones in hiding. We split our lives and exist as one person in the outside world. And we’ve always been happy.
But now I’ve fallen head over heels in love...and that changes everything.
Because, to let love in, I need to be allowed to be Me.

Romantic drama with a twist, perfect for fans of Jay Asher and Lauren Kate.

I’m not really sure about this one so I’m going to pass it on to Anya at An Awful Lot of Reading.

Grounding Quinn – Steph Campbell

Quinn MacPherson’s biggest fear has always been turning out like her crazy mother or cold-hearted father. That is, until she meets Benjamin Shaw.

Quinn thinks hooking up with Ben over the summer will just be a quick fling – and with his hot body and heart-breaking smile that’s all she really wants. But Ben’s not just some guy. He gets her – the real her, flaws and all – and that’s scary as hell. So Quinn does what comes naturally: she pushes him away, breaking his heart before he can break hers.

Ben isn’t prepared to let her go that easily. He knows that Quinn is special, and he’ll do whatever it takes to make sure they’re together. But will he be able to persuade Quinn to open herself up and allow him in to her life...and her heart?

Thanks S&S!

I snagged a couple of lovelies while I was at Chicken House doing a spot of work experience at the beginning of the week. Here they are!

The Drowning – Rachel Ward

When Carl opens his eyes on the banks of a cold lake, his brother is being zipped into a body bag. And a shivering girl is being helped nearby.

What happened in the water?

He can’t remember. All he knows is that he must find out – before the truth comes back to drown him...

A beautiful finished copy! Thanks Chicken House!

The Scorch Trials – James Dashner

Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escaping meant he would get his life back. But no one knew what sort of life they were going back to...

Burned and baked, the earth is a wasteland, it’s people driven mad by an infection known as the Flare.

Instead of freedom, Thomas must face another trial. He must cross the Scorch to once again save himself and his friends...

I can finally finish this trilogy! I also got The Death Cure, but I don’t want to write it up in case of spoilers. Thanks again Chicken House!

You Don’t Know Me – Sophia Bennett

Me and Rose. In a band. Singing together, all the way to th elveis finals of Killer Act.

Only to be told one of us must go.

But no girl would drop her best friend in front of millions... Would she?

If this is fame, it sucks.

Everyone’s talking about us, but nobody knows the truth.

A gorgeous finished copy! I’m really looking forward to this.

The Poison Boy – Fletcher Moss

Orphan Dalton Fly, food taster to the rich, has a lucky escape after discovering poisoned wine. But his mate dies horribly, and Dalton want justice.

Together wth Scarlet Dropmore, the high-born girl whose life he saved, he sets out to find the murders.

This sounds like so much fun!

Heart of Danger – Eliot Schrefer

When Sophie rescues Otto, a baby bonobo clinging to life, she had never understood her mother’s decision to stay and run an animal sanctuary in one of the toughest places in Africa.

But one night, while her mother is away, rebel soldiers attack. To escape, Sophie must follow her heart into danger – and find a way to keep herself and Otto alive.

Tina practically threw this at me, promising it was brilliant!


Friday 26 April 2013

ACID - Emma Pass

Pages: 429
Publisher: Corgi (RHCP)
Release Date: 25th April 2013
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

ACID – the most brutal police force in history.
They rule with an iron fist.
They see everything. They know everything.
They locked me away for life.

My crime?
They say I murdered my parents.
I was fifteen years old.

My name is Jenna Strong.

I’ve been looking forward to read Emma Pass’ debut for such a long time that I can’t really remember not wanting it! But I have to say, ACID was definitely worth the wait.

Jenna is an amazing protagonist. I was expected a strong, kickass heroine and yet she still surpassed my expectations. She’d been so dragged through the mud that you’d forgive her for a being a little fragile and broken, but no. She learned how to fight back and hold her own. I loved her against the backdrop of a sexist dystopia; she’s fiery, loyal and can look after herself.

Emma Pass created a terrifying world in ACID. Not just because of the scary social hierarchy, militant government and powerlessness of the people, but more the extents to which bad people will take their power and resources. I don’t want to mention anything specific in case of spoilers, but those who’ve read ACID will (hopefully) know exactly what I mean. I was also really shocked by the idea of LifePartnering and a woman’s control and say in that, as well as her prospects is she wasn’t LifePartnered. It took this world that’s a hundred years ahead of ours to over a hundred years behind us.  

As well as a myriad of characters to love, some of them unexpectedly, there was also a fair share of truly horrible enemies. Obviously, I was no fan of the General, but I actually disliked Jacob even more. Oh, he got on my nerves that one! There were lots of tantalising plots twists centred around Jenna and her companions and the past that often had me gasping aloud. I took a good twist!

One of my favourite things about ACID was the reports, articles and extra bits that were interspersed between the chapters. It gave an extra dimension to Jenna’s story, giving us background and reasons to panic about things that we know Jenna didn’t know about yet; I thought that was very clever. Also, I’m pretty sure ACID is a standalone. I got that impression from start to finish, well until the very last page that is. Standalones are rare in dystopian YA and I think this does it perfectly and it made me so happy to think that it is. Although, that tease at the end of the novel could launch more books, but I’d like it to just remain as a hint that this isn’t the end of Jenna’s story and that she’ll live beyond the end of ACID.

Break-neck pace, a heroine you can’t help but love and a terrifying world, ACID is a debut that you won’t forget about in a hurry. I cannot wait for Emma Pass’s next book.

Thank you to RCHP for providing me with a review copy.


Wednesday 24 April 2013

By Any Other Name - Laura Jarratt

Pages: 355
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Release Date: 1st April 2013
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Skin Deep

I picked up the book and thumbed through the pages.

Names in alphabetical order, names with meanings, names I knew, names I’ve never heard of.

How to pick? Nothing that would stand out, nothing that would link me to the past – those were the instructions.

The past. As if everything that had gone before this moment was buried already.

New girl, new school, new home, new life – everything about Holly is new. That’s the point of witness protection; nobody knows the truth. But one wrong move will put her whole family in danger...

Skin Deep was one of my favourite reads of 2012 so By Any Other Name had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, it was just as brilliant.

Laura Jarratt has a real talent for incorporating serious and often uncomfortable topics with sensitively and insane skill. In By Any Other Name Jarratt tackled autism, bullying, war, witness protection and kidnapping in a novel that felt effortless. I love that there’s more than meets the eye to every character important to Holly. Such brilliant characterisation is something I’m quickly beginning to associate with Laura Jarratt.

Even though lots of issues are tackled, By Any Other Name is an exploration of identity. I can’t imagine how you would cope having everything that makes you who you are taken away from you: your friends, your home, your school, your history, your name. Holly’s reaction was almost heart-breaking at times. Her loneliness and fear were palpable and her desperation to have her old life back was so touching and realistic.

I loved how Holly’s friendship, and eventual romance, with Joe helped to make Holly more like Holly. He brought her out of her shell, helped her accept and begin to enjoy her new life. I love Joe! I was also really pleased that instead of diving in to an intense relationship, Jarratt gave them a slow build up. They became friends first; learnt to like, trust and support each other before it turned in to something more. With the surge of new adult around at the moment, it was welcome and refreshing.

By Any Other Name is a powerful, touching and moving. Laura Jarratt is definitely becoming a strong talent in UKYA and I can't wait to see what she dazzles me with next.

Thanks to Electric Monkey for the review copy.