Wednesday 31 July 2013

The Sound - Sarah Alderson

Page: 308
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 1st August 2013
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Other Titles by this Author: Hunting Lila, Losing Lila, Tormenting Lila, Fated, Severed

He is out there, holding his breath as I hold mine. Ears pricked, eyes scouring the darkness. I can sense him there waiting, just a few feet away...

When aspiring music journalist Ren Kingston takes a job nannying for a wealthy family on the exclusive island of Nantucket, playground for Boston’s elite, she’s hoping for a low-key summer reading books and blogging about bands. Boys are firmly off the agenda.

What she doesn’t count on is falling in with a bunch of party-loving private school kids who are hiding some dark secrets; falling (possibly) in love with the local bad boy; and falling out with a dangerous serial killer...

I unexpectedly fell in love with Hunting Lila and Losing Lila last year so I was so excited to hear about another contemporary thriller from Sarah Alderson. The Sound didn’t disappoint at all.

The premise of an English teenager going to spend the summer as a nanny on Nantucket is a dream job: hot American boys, away from home and gorgeous sunny beaches. The added risk of a serial killer and the threat of danger makes The Sound irresistible. I loved how it went from light and funny to dark and tense in a matter of pages.

As well as capturing a vibrant and vivid sense of place, Sarah Alderson really knows how to write a budding relationship and sexual tension so sparkling I was left with stars in my eyes. Good God, Jesse Miller. I thought Alex from the Lila series was hot, but in comparison, nuh uh. Just, yum. He’s also mysterious, sexy and secretly a sweetheart and I fell in love; completely and utterly in love. I liked the way that their relationship developed; it wasn’t leaped into and it evolved naturally over the novel.

It took an unexpected and serious turn when Jesse revealed a dark secret about one of the people that Ren came in contact with on the island. I was thoroughly surprised and it wasn’t an avenue that I was anticipating at all. The darker turn was refreshing and it actually ended up being really quite a poignant turn considering a lot of what’s been happening around Twitter and the media surrounding women being attacked, in a variety of ways, and hopefully it’ll stretch the idea out even further and to people who wouldn’t usually take notice of it.

It’s obvious that I loved The Sound but there was a minor thing that niggled me. I thought that the pop culture and YA references were brilliant, but Adlerson got quite a few of the names wrong. I didn’t think that was very good and it really should have been picked up during edits and I think that if you’re going to name drop characters, their names should be spelt right; everyone knows Twilight’s Bella’s last name is spelt ‘Swan’ and not ‘Swann’ and that Damon is the dangerous vampire brother in The Vampire Diaries, not Damien.

Sarah Alderson is a master at writing sexy, compelling thrillers and I’m already looking forward to her next book.

Thanks to S&S for the review copy.


Monday 29 July 2013

Severed Heads, Broken Hearts - Robyn Schneider

Pages: 283
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: 15th August 2013
Edition: UK proof, review copy

My own tragedy held out. It waited to strike until I was so used to my good-enough life in an unexceptional suburb that I’ve stopped waiting for anything interesting to happen. Which is why, when my personal tragedy finally found me, it was nearly too late. I had just turned seventeen, was embarrassingly popular, earned good grades, and was threatening to become eternally unextraordinary.

So who was I in the aftermath of my personal tragedy? I had been Ezra Faulkner, golden boy, but that person no longer existed.

With the press release declaring comparisons to John Green and Sarah Dessen, there was no way I wasn’t going to fall in love with Robyn Schneider’s debut. I was smitten by the end of the Author’s Note.

Ezra’s narration is clever, witty and intelligent, but it has a lot of heart too. His voice is clear and captivating and although I’m a girl with no experience of being inside a boy’s head, I think Schneider nailed being a seventeen year old boy. His preconceptions about the people outside of his former jock friendship group, his pre-occupation with tennis and the honesty about sexuality and his thoughts about girls, it felt realistic and refreshing. One of my favourite things about the way Ezra told his story was the hints and foreshadowing, though. It gave great parallels to The Great Gatsby which he was a little obsessed with. He saw a lot of himself in Gatsby and that was woven into the novel really beautifully and cleverly. There was a sense of fate colliding with choices and it was rather thought-provoking.

Though Severed Heads, Broken Hearts will inevitably be compared to John Green and Looking for Alaska, there are a few things that does set it above Green’s first novel. at first I thought Cassidy was going to turn out to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and in some ways she was, but I never disliked her in the way I usually do when faced with that stereotype. I felt for her and wanted to get to know her and what her secrets were. I saw her through Ezra’s eyes and through my own at the same time, realising she was a genuinely damaged girl who had feelings for Ezra whilst battling her demons.

Taking all of that into account, you wouldn’t expect Ezra and Cassidy’s relationship to be soft and quiet, but still strong, and yet it was. They just worked together. Cassidy enabled Ezra to accept who he really was, and have someone to blame for that! Ezra helped Cassidy to ignore the things that plagued her and attempt to move on. I think that they’re a great pairing and a perfect teenage couple. The resolution of their relationship was unusual and a breath of fresh air. It was authentic.

I loved Severed Heads, Broken Hearts and I find myself thinking about it at the most random of moments. I’m already excited for Robyn Schneider’s second novel.

Thanks to S&S for the review copy.


Sunday 28 July 2013

Letterbox Love #11

Letterbox Love came about after some drama with the American book haul memes, so the UKYA bloggers came together on Twitter to organise one of our own. 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:

Paradise – Simone Elkeles

Nothing has been the same since Claeb Becker left a party drunk, got behind the wheel and hit Maggie Armstrong. After a year in juvenile jail, Caleb’s free, but coming home doesn’t feel as good as it should when his family and ex-girlfriend seem like strangers. Months of painful physical therapy have left Maggie with a limp. Longing to escape the pitying stares, the last person she wants to see is Caleb.

But despite the horror of their shared history, Caleb and Maggie can’t seem to stay away from each other, with the heated attraction between them becoming unbearable. As they struggle with their growing feelings for each other, Caleb and Maggie realist that ultimately, whether they leave Paradise of stay, they must face the truth about the night of the accident, or the secret will forever stand between them.

Yay, thank you S&S! This is a bind-up of Leaving Paradise and Return to Paradise in their first UK paperback publication.

Belle Epoque – Elizabeth Ross (paperback)

In the search for perfect beauty, the ugly face of Paris will be revealed...

When sixteen-year-old Maude runs away to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Increasingly desperate for money, she turns to the mysterious Durandeau Agency, who convince Maude to become a repoussoir – an unattractive young woman hired by Parisian socialites to enhance their beauty.

Maude is humiliated – but what choice does she have?

Thrown into a world of parties, glamour and astonishing cruelty, Maude quickly discovers that a disturbing ugliness lurks beneath bohemian Paris’s glittering facade.

This is a story of fate, love, friendship and the true meaning of being beautiful...

Loving the sound of this! Thanks Hot Key Books!


The Bone Dragon – Alexia Casale (e-book)

Evie’s shattered ribs have been a secret for the last four years. Now she has found the strength to tell her adoptive parents, and the physical traces of her past are fixed – the only remaining signs a scar on her side and a fragment of bone taken home from the hospital, which her uncle Ben helps her carve into a dragon  as a sign of her strength.

Soon this ivory talisman begins to come to life at night, offering wisdom and encouragement in roaming dreams of smoke and moonlight that come to feel ever more real.

As Evie grows stronger there remains one problem her new parents can’t fix for her: a revenge that must be taken. And it seems that the Dragon is the one to take it.

Only 99p on Amazon so I couldn’t resist! Michelle from Fluttering Butterflies really loved it so I know I will.

Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery – Keren David (e-book)

Think winning the jackpot will solve all your problems?

Life’s hard for Lia. Her mum is a nag, her sister a pain and the gorgeous but mysterious Raf seems immune to her charms. When Lia wins £8 million on the lottery, though, suddenly everything is different. But will Lia’s millions create more problems than they solve?

Firstly, a resentful gang of girls at school set up a ‘We Hate Lia Latimer’ Facebook group...that soon has fans in the thousands. Her friend Shazia can’t have anything to do with Lia’s new-found fortune, believing gambling to be immoral. The mum of her other best friend, Jack, is threatening to sue Lia for what she believes to be his share of the winnings. Raf’s behaviour is getting stranger and stranger, and Lia can’t help but wonder whether there’s something to the school’s rumours that he’s not...well, human.

And when her sister Natalie goes missing, Lia begins to wonder if a millionaire lifestyle is all it’s cracked up to be...

Again with a Kindle bargain!


Saturday 27 July 2013

Author Intervew: Katie McGarry

Please welcome the lovely Katie McGarry, author of Pushing the Limits and the recently released Dare You To, who kindly agreed to a quick fire interview!

1. Beth isn’t always the easiest character to like, but I still cared for and sympathised with her throughout. Was balancing her character difficult?
When writing Beth, I definitely had to be aware of balancing her character. She is definitely tough as nails, but she’s that way because she’s so broken inside. I wanted Beth to be authentic and because of that I had to do the correct balance of snark and then internal vulnerability.

2. I love that we got to hear from both Beth and Ryan in Dare You To and Noah and Echo in Pushing the Limits. What made you decide to write dual narrative novels?
There are two parties involved in a love story and I enjoy seeing how each character falls for the other!

3. Who would you pick to go on a date with: Noah, Ryan or Isaiah? Why?
Oh, that would be like asking which of my children I love more!

I love how smooth Noah is, Ryan makes me melt, and I have a huge crush on Isaiah!

Thanks Katie! If you haven’t checked out either of Katie's books, what are you waiting for?!