Sunday 31 May 2015

Letterbox Love #91

Letterbox Love is a way to show you all of the lovely, lovely books I’ve gotten in the post, bought and everything else over the last week. 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:

This Raging Light, Estelle Laure (e-proof)

How is it that you can suddenly notice a person? How is it that one day Digby was my best friend’s admittedly cute twin brother, and then the next he stole air, gave jitters, twisted my insides up?

Lucille has bigger problems than falling for her best friend’s unavailable brother. Her mom has gone, leaving her to look after her sister, Wren. With bills mounting up and appearances to keep, Lucille is raging against her life but holding it together – just.

A stunning debut to devour in one sitting, Laure completely captures the agony and ecstasy of first love.

I can’t wait for this – it sounds right up my street! Not released until just before Christmas, though, so it’ll be a while before you hear anything about it on here. Thanks HMH and NetGalley!

The Baby, Lisa Drakeford (paperback)

It’s Olivia’s seventeenth birthday party. The last thing she expects to see when she stumbles into the bathroom is her best mate Nicola giving birth on the floor. How could she, when Nicola had no idea this was coming either? She’s so not ready to be a mum, and she needs Olivia’s help. But Olivia has her own prblems – a controlling boyfriend, Jonty, and lonely little sister, Alice, for starters. And then there’s their friend Ben, with secrets of his own.

The party to end all parties has started something epic…

This sounds amazing! Thanks Riot Communications and Chicken House!

Night School: Endgame, CJ Daugherty (paperback)

In the last year, Allie ahs survived three arrests, two breakups and one family breakdown. The only bright point has been her new life at Cimmeria Academy. It’s the one place she’s felt she belgons. And the fact that it’s brought the dreamy Carter West into her life hasn’t hurt…

But far from being a safe haven, the cloistered walls of Cimmeria are proving more dangerous than Allie could ever have imagined. The students and faculty are under threat, and Allie’s family – from her mysterious grandma to her runaway brother – are at the centre of the storm.

Allie is going to have to choose between protecting her family and trusting her friends. But secrets have a way of ripping even the strongest relationships apart…

I actually haven’t read any of this series, but I know loads of people love it. Thanks Atom!


21 Stolen Kisses, Lauren Blakely (ebook)

When I first met him I resisted.
Like any forbidden love, I told myself he was a crush, and it would pass.
That was a lie. It never faded.

And I never expected he would fall for me just as hard.

There were so many reasons that should have kept us apart, least of all, the decade that separated us. Growing up in New York City I learned early on that love is a double-edged sword. Love broke up my parents, love took away my friends, and love – the big, intense, never-been-like-this-before love – landed me in therapy. Now I’m heading to college, and it’s time to give love a clean slate again. But, can I still really start over when he’s still in my life. Because the one man I’ve always wanted, is the only guy I absolutely can’t have… And he wants me just as fiercely.

Can I settle for anything less than the love of my life?

I’m pretty sure this is a student/teacher relationship which I love so yay! And Bloomsbury Spark books are also quick and fun.


Friday 29 May 2015

We Are All Made of Molecules, Susin Nielsen

Pages: 306
Publisher: Andersen Press
Release Date: 30th April 2015
Edition: UK hardback, purchased

There are two sides to every story…

Meet Stewart. He’s geeky, gifted but socially clueless. His mom has died and he misses her every day.

Meet Ashley. She’s popular, cool but her grades stink. Her dad’s come out and moved out – but not far enough.

Their worlds are about to collide: Stewart and his dad are moving in with Ashley and her mom. Stewart is trying to be 89.9% happy about it even as he struggles to fit in at his new school. But Ashley is 100% horrified and can’t get used to her completely awkward home, which is now filled with some rather questionable décor. And things are about to get a whole lot more mixed up when these two very different people attract the attention of school junk Jared…

Hysterically funny, tender and offbeat, We Are All Made of Molecules is about first impressions, false impressions and totally making the wrong impression.

Ever since the first proof copies started coming through letterboxes, all I’ve heard about We Are All Made of Molecules is how beautiful and sweet and funny it is. It’s all true.

Stewart and Ashley couldn’t be more different and now they’re under the same roof and their parents are madly in love. Stewart is 13 and he’s Gifted. He’s polite, kind, insanely clever and tells a great geeky joke. Ashley is 14. She’s the queen bee of her grade, has the perfect wardrobe and her sights on the gorgeous new boy. Unsurprisingly, they clash big time.

I actually really loved both characters. At first I was expecting to really dislike Ashley – she’s mean and angry and selfish, but she’s a 14 and that’s HARD. She’s struggling with her parents’ split, she’s angry at Stewart and his dad for moving in, she struggles at school (academia isn’t her thing) and she’s fighting to stay at the top of the social ladder, pushing her friends down before they can topple her. And she has a huge crush, as well. I really felt for her. Ashley isn’t inherently mean, she just has a lot to deal with and she does that in the wrong way, but she’s hurting and it makes sense.

Ashley’s situation became even more important as she started seeing the aforementioned new boy, Jared. Even though he’d been bullying Stewart, Ashley becomes immediately wrapped up in him, until the cracks start to show. He’s pushy and forceful, he’s cruel, he’s homophobic and a complete shit. I loved how Jared’s actions demonstrated so clearly that Ashley wasn’t mean at heart – she just made a fair few mistakes – whereas Jared is disgusting. I hated the way that Ashley let him get way with in the beginning as that’s what she was supposed to do. It made my heart ache. Luckily, Stewart was able to sweep in.

Early in his school career, Stewart had been moved to a school designed specifically to cope with his advanced intelligence and lack of social skills, but real high school is a jungle. And yet he stayed true to himself and fought for his friends and his new family. I definitely think this difference has to do with intelligence, but also in socialisation of gender – boys can generally get away with being a little weird, for girls like Ashley, that’s social suicide. He knew what Jared was doing and saying was wrong and he acted on it. He defended the girl that had been nothing but mean to him since he moved in because it was the right thing to do.

Against all of the struggles with moving from his childhood home and forging a new family, Stewart is also grieving the loss of his mother still. The guilt he felt at moving into Caroline and Ashley’s house and putting his old life into storage tore at my heart – I really do understand how that feels – and how he felt the need to take a few minutes every day just to think or her and remember her, wrapped in her old afghan broke my heart. Losing a parent is impossibly difficult and moving onto new parts of your life without them is even harder in some ways. I think Susin Nielsen’s depiction of grief was picture perfect and she turned Stewart’s love and grief for his mum into something so lovely and so sad. So wonderfully done.

This review is both a bit rambly and a bit vague, but what I’m trying to say is that We Are All Made of Molecules is a sweet, funny, touching and incredibly important book. It’s a story of family, friendship and being brave enough to stand up for yourself and those you love.


Thursday 28 May 2015

Little Black Classics

In February of this year Penguin celebrated their 80th birthday and launch the Little Black Classics – 80 pocket-sized paperbacks at 80p each. They span thousands of years of literature, every genre, every form, every style and every continent. And I think they’re pretty great.

Classics can sometimes feel impenetrable. You can fall in love the a story you read in a retelling, see on stage or watch in an adaptation so picking up the book seems like the perfect idea. Then you find out it is 500 pages long and the language is a little trickier to read than it is to hear and see. That’s where the LBCs come in for me.

These snippets of literature are no longer than 50 pages long. Inside their covers are small collections of poetry, letters, short stories and other stories so short they could be considered flash fiction! They give you a brief glimpse into the style of an author and allow to get to know them before you commit to the real thing. I found this with The Reckoning by Edith Wharton. I really love the titles of Wharton’s full-length novels – The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome – and that’s attracted me to her as a writer, but I really knew nothing of her style of writing or the stories she was compelled to tell. But in No.48 I found two short stories – Mrs Mantsey’s Window and The Reckoning – two very different stories from different times in her career. I discovered her themes of marriage and independence; her progressive ideas; her beautiful, vivid writing and her satire and I’ve now got a few of her novels in my Amazon basket! Those 45 minutes I spent checking out her work took me from vague interest to wanting to buy her books.

But at the same time, they also allow you to read and own favourite poems and stories without buying several full collections. During my A-levels I studied the Victorian poet Christina Rossetti, the sister of the famous member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Her tales of broken and tricked women and the prices they have paid for being seen as possessing original sin and living in a man’s world are wrapped up in fairytales and folk tales and obscure extended metaphors that allowed her to get away with publication in the mid-1800s. I fell in love with her poems, but I have struggled to find nice editions of her collections and that has meant that I haven’t read much beyond the AQA syllabus. This collection gave me 18 poems and I’d only read the title one, Goblin Market – it expanded my experience of this poet and now I’ll be looking even harder to find nice editions of her full collections. There a few better places to retreat into on a lunch break, a bus rid or on a short train journey than into the imagination of Christina Rossetti!

For me, one of the best things about the Little Black Classics series is that it has allowed me take a glimpse into legendary authors and famous stories that I’m a little intimidated by otherwise. Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart is beloved by many and most people know at least a little of the story, but it was still so much more than I expected! At only nine pages, the story was quick, intense and the tension was incredibly high. I loved it. No.31 also features two other stories, the longer The Fall of the House of Usher and another 10-page punch, The Cask of Amontillado. It turns out that I prefer his shorter stories with their intensity and the crazy atmosphere, but all of his stories seem to feature death, murder, guilt and madness so now I know what to expect and what to look for from an author with a hugely extensive backlist. Now I can stride confidently into the dark, twisted mind of Poe with confidence.

I love this series. I think they’re a fantastic collection for every bookshelf – I want them all, to be honest. They really do make classics accessible for every budget and every timescale.

Have you read any of these? Do you have a favourite Little Black Classics? Any you’ve got your eye on?


Wednesday 27 May 2015

The It Girl, Katy Birchall

Pages: 344
Publisher: Egmont
Release Date: 7th May 2015
Edition: UK paperback, review copy

Anna Huntley’s aims in life:

1. To recreate famous film scenes with Dog (her pet Labrador) such as the lift from The Lion King during that ‘Circle of Life’ song.

2. To not accidentally set Deputy Queen Bee Josie Graham’s hair on fire (again).

3. To keep her very first and only two school friends by not doing anything in her usual manner of socially inept dork and outcast.

4. To find out if points 1 and 2 constitute being socially inept – or outcastish.

5. To find a cupboard to hide in with Dog (preferably for life) after her dad gets engaged to one of the most famous actresses ever, the paparazzi move in and the whole world is on the brink of discovering why no one wants to be friends with Anna…

I honestly didn’t have any expectations of The It Girl other than that it was supposed to be funny, and boy was it! It was exactly what I needed.

When I picked up Katy Birchall’s debut, I was in the middle of a classic novel that I’m trudging through and after a string of distinctly ‘meh’ novels that I wasn’t too bothered by. Then Anna came stumbling into my life, being dragged along by Dog and I didn’t stop smiling until I finished reading. She’s a delight to read about. A propensity for setting things on fire, saying stupid things and generally embarrassing herself, Anna is the spirit animal of most teenage girls. Marvel, movies and her Labrador Dog are her favourite things in the world and she’s genuinely worried that if she doesn’t start being cool her only two friends will ditch her.

This only intensifies after her dad reveals that he’s engaged to a legendary movie star and ends up in close proximity to her It Girl daughter, Marianne, and her failings are displayed in the papers. I think that it would have been really easy to put the novel’s conflict in the introduction of Helena and Marianne or between Anna’s mum and dad and I’m so glad it wasn’t that way. I loved that though they aren’t together, Anna’s parents are best friends and together with the Montaines, they make a family. I love that in The It Girl a disjointed and unconventional family doesn’t make an unhappy one, in fact, it’s the opposite. I really loved the ragtag group they made and the genuine affection that built between them, especially between Anna and Marianne.

Marianne is a party girl. She’s beautiful and poised and she is often splashed across newspapers and magazines doing something extremely cool. Who wouldn’t be intimidated by that?! I really liked that we got to see underneath that aspect of Marianne and that she even hinted at the difficult parts of being constantly in the spotlight – it humanised her so much and really made me cheer on her friendship with Anna.

Friendship in general is a huge part of this novel; it’s one of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much! Anna only moved to London a year or so ago and she was pretty much a loner until Jess and Danny swept her under their wings. I really liked their little group. Though Danny is a tad underdeveloped, he had some really nice input when Anna really messed up with Jess. But Jess is brilliant. She’s the best friend every teenager needs: funny, loyal and loves you even when you admit to dancing with a balloon at a school dance. The real strength in their friendship came about when it was threatened, however. In a classic teen movie fashion, Anna new status as an It Girl drew the most popular girl in school to try and get what she could out of Anna. Sophie is your average catty, needlessly mean popular girl and Anna couldn’t quite see that she was being used, but Jess could. Though she warned Anna about it gently, she wasn’t mean about, she didn’t ditch her, she just waited for Anna to wise up to it. That to me is genuine friendship and it was so lovely to see.

Tied into the theme of friendship is the idea of embracing who you are. Jess and Danny love Anna for who she is, and so do her family, but it’s not quite good enough for Anna at first. It’s natural to want to be at the top of the high school food chain, but it’s not at it’s cracked up to be. I really enjoyed seeing Anna realise that she actually had it really freaking good with her friends and family – she didn’t need to be popular after all. I think this is so important for teenagers to learn – in fact, I need to learn it! – and Anna is the perfect character to deliver that message with charm and humour.

The It Girl is a charming, funny story of friendship and embracing who you are. I’m so looking forward to more from Anna.

Thanks to Egmont for the review copy!


Tuesday 26 May 2015

Blast From the Past: Little Women

Originally published in 1868-9 by the Roberts Brothers

My edition: the beautiful Penguin Clothbound Classics hardcover – surprised, right?

What’s it about?
Meg, Jo, Amy and Beth – the four ‘little women’ enduring hardships and enjoying adventures in Civil War New England. The charming story of the March sisters, Little Women has been adored by generations. Readers have rooted for Laurie in pursuit of Jo’s hand, cried over little Beth, and dreamed of traveling through Europe with old Aunt March and Amy. Future writers have found inspiration in Jo’s devotion to her writing. I this simple, enthralling tale, Louisa May Alcott has created four of American’s literature’s most beloved women.

Why now?
The need to finally read this has been niggling since Christmas when hoardes of people on my Twitter feed were having their yearly comfort Christmas re-read. I needed to know what I was missing!

The verdict:
I have to admit that this is perhaps my least favourite classic of the year so far. Being beloved by legions I was expecting to fall head over heels in love with the March sisters, but it fell a little short for me.

From the very beginning, Amy, Jo, Beth and Amy are very distinct and different: Amy is a little selfish and obsessed with society; Jo is a writer, an adventurer and a tomboy; Beth is the youngest, quiet, sweet and happy and Meg is fed up being poor and wants to be a part of fashionable society. Keeping them under control is the seemingly perfect Mrs March and their housekeeper Hannah who is pretty much a part of the family. Mr March is off fighting in the American Civil War. Jo was my immediate favourite. She sees beyond the confines of her sex and wants every freedom that boys have. And she can’t understand why she shouldn’t. I love that she’s a reader and a writer and wants to go on epic adventures, all while not having a romantic bone in her body. She’s a breath of fresh air. With the exception of Beth – who could dislike Beth?! – I found the other three March sisters pretty annoying, if I had feelings about them at all!

I think my feelings around their characters may have something to do with how they were used by Alcott. Every character in this novel has a distinct fault and Alcott uses these faults or quirks to preach morality and values, even to the cost of the girls’ dreams and personalities. Preachiness is one of my pet peeves. You can deliver values and morality in a way that isn’t glaring in your face and I think they’re more effective. I know this was written in the late 1860s and for children, it still didn’t sit right with me.

Jo was the balance of the two themes in the novel, I feel. She was the March sister who desired the most independence, the most ‘unfeminine’ things, the one who didn’t want marriage and babies and the keep house but she was still loyal and loving to her family, worked hard and looked after those she loved. She was my very favourite from beginning to end. That’s why the whole Laurie debacle made me ragey. I knew from just being in the literary world that Laurie married another of the sisters instead of Jo, but I was still desperately hoping that I had remembered wrong. As Jo and Laurie grew up together and experienced more I felt like they were moving towards it and ripping them apart was cruel. I almost felt like it was Alcott’s punishment to Jo for being so against what a women should want out of life that she doesn’t get the rich, charming, beautiful boy who understands and loves her completely as her husband. I feel that if Jo wasn’t to marry Laurie then she should have stuck to her guns and not married at all. And I really didn’t like the Amy/Laurie match – it didn’t feel as genuine as what I’d seen build for 350 pages. I was quite cross. Though everyone got a happy ever after, though very realistically, not the happy ever after they all desired, I felt that Jo almost wasn’t done justice in her ending and that feeling is the only thing that makes me want to read Little Men. I need to know that Jo is really, genuinely happy with Mr Baer and that Laurie made the right choice about Amy.

The subjects of marriage, love, family and poverty are the main themes in Little Women and the way they approached changed and altered over the course of the novel. This story does span around 20-odd years after all! Though I loved watching Meg soften, Amy sharpen, Jo turn into a confident, hardworking young woman and Laurie transform into, well, an older charmer really, I much preferred part one of the novel. The friendships and games and trials and tribulations of childhood and their teenage years were ironed out in the second half of the novel when it became clear that the March sisters were becoming women and had to start acting like it. Though I understand that marriage really was one of the only ways for a woman to have a secure life, it still made me thoroughly sad as they began to almost groom themselves for it, although Jo was traditionally late to the party, of course.

Sadly, Little Women wasn’t for me. I had none of the nostalgia for the story or the March sisters and I became really frustrated by the preaching of Louisa Mae Alcott and the injustices towards Jo. But I am glad I read it, if only for Jo and Laurie.

Still not convinced?
- It’s a treasured novel from childhood and early teens for many, many book lovers.
- You need to know whether you’re a Jo, an Amy, a Meg or a Beth.
- The trauma of the Jo and Laurie saga is something you need to experience.


Monday 25 May 2015

City of Fae, Pippa DaCosta

Pages: 336
Publisher: Bloomsbury Spark
Release Date: 7th May 2015
Edition: UK e-proof, NetGalley review copy

From the moment Alina touches London’s hottest fae superstar, breaking one of the laws founded to protect her kind, her fate – and the fae – close in.

Below ground, the fae High Queen plots to claim the city as her own and places her pawns, ready for the battle to come. A battle she cannot lose, but for one small problem – Alina. There are four ancient keepers powerful enough to keep the queen in her prison. Three are dead. One remains… And to fight back, Alina risks everything she has come to love.

This new adult urban fantasy is packed with action and suspense and will have you yearning for more forbidden fae romance.

I’ve come to associate Bloomsbury Sparks with quick, fun and lively novels and City of Fae met those expectations perfectly.

From the very start, Alina’s story throws up mysteries and questions, all surrounding a gorgeous fae rockstar. What has Reign done? Why are the authorities after him? And what on Earth does it have to do with her?! Answers are drip fed as Alina gets to know Reign a little more and discovers more about the deadly fae. In the 70s, the fae came out to the rest of the world and though there are government warnings and laws to keep humans safe, the fae are beautiful and dangerous and endlessly alluring.

The mythology that Pippa Dacosta wove around Reign and the fae was really, really interesting. It’s nothing I’ve ever read before and I loved how completely original it felt. The fae need draíocht to survive and humans are a plentiful resource. The draíocht can be leached from humans by a single touch, but a few too many times and the human becomes bespelled – they’re pretty much high and addicted to the fae who drew their draíocht. This is a risk that Alina dances around for the entire novel, bringing her growing attraction to Reign into question as dangerous situations bring them closer and closer. I really loved the high strung tension between them and the pure risk of them helping each other; it made me race through the novel.

As Reign and Alina become more and more entangled, so does the world Alina thought she knew. Though there is the fantasy staple of the heroine not being quite who she thought she was, I did enjoy the direction it went in. I loved that Alina didn’t like what she discovered, that it wasn’t all good and the high stakes that were placed on her shoulders didn’t feel forced; she was an unfortunate pawn in a centuries old game. Alina’s newfound knowledge led us deeper into the mythology of faerie, giving us a glimpse into the reality of the fae and where they came from as well as why they opened themselves up to humans in the 70s.  

City of Fae is a fun, original and sparky debut and I hope I get to see more of this world.

Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Spark for the review copy.


Sunday 24 May 2015

Letterbox Love #90

Letterbox Love is a way to show you all of the lovely, lovely books I’ve gotten in the post, bought and everything else over the last week. 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:

Legacy of Kings, Eleanor Herman (e-proof)

Imagine a time with the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains, and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedon’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world, but finds himself drawn to a newcomer…

Katerina must navigate the dark secrets of court life, while keeping hidden her own mission: kill the queen. But she doesn’t account for her first love…

Jacob will go to unthinkable lengths to win Katerina, even if it means competing with Hephaestion, a murdered sheltered by the prince.

And far across the seas, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly spirit eaters.

This sounds epic. Thanks Harlequin Teen and NetGalley!

The Thing About Jellyfish, Ali Benjamin (e-proof)

A stunning debut about how grief can open the world in magical ways.

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy is a rare jellyfish sting. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory – even if it means travelling the globe alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.

This sounds sad and beautiful and completely wonderful. Thanks NetGalley and Little, Brown US!


Prudence: The Custard Protocol, Gail Carriger (paperback)

Introducing The Custard Protocol series, in which Prudence, daughter of Alexia Maccon, travels to India for Queen and country…and the perfect pot of tea.

When Prudence Alessandra Maccon is bequeathed an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female under similar circumstances would do – christens it The Spotted Custard and floats off to India.

Soon, she stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier’s wife and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis (and an embarrassing lack of bloomers), Rue must rely on her good breeding – and her metanatural abilities – to get to the bottom of it all…

I adore Gail Carriger’s YA series set in this world so when I spotted this on Amazon for £1.99 I couldn’t resist. Now I just need to read the first series…

The Sun in Her Eyes, Paige Toon (paperback)

Blinding sunshine… A bend in the road… What became of the little girl with the sun in her eyes?

Amber was three when a car crash stole her mother’s life. She doesn’t remember the accident, but a stranger at the scene has been unable to forget. Now, almost thiry years later, she’s trying to track Amber down.

Amber, meanwhile, is married to Ned and living on the other side of the world in London. When her father has a stroke, she flies straight home to Australia to be with him. Away from her husband, Amber finds comfort in her oldest friends, but her feelings for Ethan, the gorgeous, green-eyed man she once fell for, have never been platonic.

As Ethan and Amber grow closer, married life in London feels very far away. Then Amber receives a letter that changes everything.

‘Before your mother died, she asked me to tell you something…’

Oh, yeah! Love Paige Toon’s novels!

PS, I Still Love You, Jenny Han (hardback)

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

They were just pretending. Until they weren’t. And now Lara Jean has to learn what it’s like to be in a real relationship and not just a make-believe one.

But when another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him suddenly return too.

Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lara Jean is about to find out that falling in love is the easy part.

I really loved To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before so I’m looking forward to this.  


Remix, Non Pratt (proof)

From the author of Trouble comes a novel about boys, bands and best mates.

Kaz is still reeling from being dumped by the love of her life… Ruby is bored of hearing about it. Time to change the record.

Three days. Two best mates. One music festival. Zero chance of everything working out.

FINALLY! Thanks so much Cait! This rather battered proof has been passed around and read by about 7 people so I’ll carry it on and pass it along once I’m done – anyone want it? (UK only!)


Friday 22 May 2015

The Heir, Kiera Cass

Pages: 342
Publisher: Harper Collins Children’s Books
Release Date: 7th May 2015
Edition: UK paperback, purchased

Other Titles by this Author: The Selection, The Elite, The One

Princess Eadlyn has grown up hearing endless stories about how her mother and father met. Twenty years ago, America Singer entered the Selection and won the heart of Prince Maxon – and they lived happily ever after.

Eadlyn doesn’t expect her own story to end in romance – she has no interest in repeating the fairy tale. But a princess’s life is never entirely her own – and Eadlyn cannot escape her very own Selection, and one particular entry who may just capture her heart…

The Selection series is one of my favourite guilty pleasure series’ so I was rather chuffed to hear that there’d be a book four and five, starring the next generation of the Illéa royal family. The Heir was a solid follow-up to American and Maxon’s story.

With Maxon and America’s oldest, Eadlyn, at the helm, The Heir feels like a very different story to the original trilogy. For one, it no longer even hints at a dystopia for me. If I hadn’t read the earlier and went in with this one (which you totally could, I think) I would have just assumed they live in a palace with some strange customs and the regular people are just rioting about how unfair life is. Even with the changes in Illéa since Maxon took the throne, it didn’t have that distinctive dystopian feel. The caste system has slowly been dissolved and the people are free from restrictions; they are able to take whatever career they wish and marry without restriction. But it’s not as perfect as it should be – the prejudice of the caste system is still widely seen. This world has so much potential and I never feel like Cass properly exploits that.

As a teenager princess, Eadlyn can’t really do much about this yet, other than watch her dad get more and more tired and stressed and so she agrees to have a Selection to boost morale while Maxon and America try to find a solution. It was really interesting to see the Selection from the other side. The balancing of her royal duties with the weekly Report and making a genuine effort to date and get to know 35 different boys, all while dealing with her feelings about the Selection itself, the people of Illéa and trying to keep a hold on her heart. I did actually find Eadlyn to be a little annoying in the beginning, but she really grew over the course of the novel. Her motivations and what lay under her cold, sometimes rude and selfish persona became more apparent and it was a lot easier to be on her side.

Eadlyn has a grit about her, a depth that has so many possibilities and she’ll undoubtedly do some awesome things for Illéa when her turn comes, but she’s still a teenage girl. I loved the balance between the princess and the girl and the way her brothers and parents brought that out in her. There’s a real sense of a strong, loving and supportive family in The Heir and it just made me so proud of America and Maxon! They did it. The reverence for the King and Queen, from both those in the palace and the public was clear. Their story is a fairytale and the things they achieved together are wonderful; and they’re so obviously still head over heels in love. I also have to say that I love middle-aged, Queen America a whole lot more than I did teenage, Selection America; the difference is huge.

I don’t want to say too much about Eadlyn’s experience of her Selection and the boys in it, but I will say that it’s a lot more dramatic and a lot stronger, actually, than Maxon’s. Everything feels heightened and way more intense, but there’s also some real humour in it. In The Selection I was only ever rooting for America, but I actually like quite a few of the boys vying for Eadlyn’s hand. I am, however, Team Erik. I want it to happen, and I really think it might. That’s the kind of choice that would totally suit Eadlyn and one that Maxon and America would secretly approve of, I reckon – they’re all about the fairytale and soul mates.

Kiera Cass delivered a thoroughly good fun companion in The Heir and I’m really looking forward to book five and all the drama that’s bound to come with it!


Thursday 21 May 2015

Blog Tour: The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP)

Kate Winter is a journalist, novelist and storyteller from the North West of Ireland who was lucky enough to grow up with no TV (though she didn’t consider it a lucky break at the time) and lots of books. After graduating from the University of Ulster with First Class honours and the Ulster Television Award for her BA in Media Studies, Kate promptly forged a glittering career in waitressing. Then one day, beside the pool in Australia, Kate decided it was time to write a book. The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP) is her first novel.

Falling in love is never simple. Especially when you’re dead.

When Rosie Potter wakes up one morning with what she assumes is the world’s worst hangover, the last thing she expects to discover is that she’s actually dead. With a frustrating case of amnesia, suspicious circumstances surrounding her untimely demise, and stuck wearing her ugliest flannel PJs, Rosie must figure out not only what happened last night, but why on earth she’s still here.

Slowly the mystery unravels, but there are many secrets buried in the quiet Irish village of Ballycarragh, and nobody is innocent as they first appear. Aided by the unlikeliest of allies in her investigation, Rosie discovers that life after death isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, particularly when you might just be falling in love…

In this hilarious, life-affirming and romantic journey through Rosie Potter’s afterlife, she shares the ghostly tale of how she lived, she lied, and she loved (in that order).

The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP) is out in trade paperback and e-book today!

Waterstones                    PB
Amazon                           PB|Kindle
The Book Depository        PB
Hive                                PB|EPUB


Wednesday 20 May 2015

Read Me Like a Book, Liz Kessler

Pages: 293
Publisher: Indigo
Release Date: 14th May 2015
Edition: UK hardback, purchased

Other Titles by this Author: Emily Windsnap series, Philippa Fisher series, A Year Without Autumn, North of Nowhere, Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins?

Ashleigh Walker is in love. You know the feeling – that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love. It’s enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college. Enough to distract her from her parents’ marriage troubles. There’s just one thing bothering her…

Shouldn’t it be her boyfriend, Dylan, who makes her feel this way – not Miss Murray, her English teacher?

Read Me Like a Book was a novel fifteen years in the making for Liz Kessler and you can really feel that fifteen years’ love and heart went into it. It’s gorgeous.

As soon as we meet Ash, she’s in a bit of a pickle. Stuck in the middle of her parents as their marriage disintegrates, she’s tired of being ignored, of being their go-between and of the constant gloom in their house. I can only imagine how much worse that must be if you’re an only child with no one to shoulder the misery with. It’s no wonder she’s not all that bothered by school, even though her A-level exams are looming and she has no idea what she’ll do come the summer. It’s a good job her birthday brings a distraction in the form of a pretty boy.

Ash’s relationship with Dylan seems to be going okay, if a little quickly, but she’s not really all that fussed. And the pushier Dylan gets, the more distant Ash feels. It made me so upset to watch her go along with things she really didn’t want to do just because she felt she should. But at the same time, she also wasn’t afraid to tell him to back off which I think is such an important message to have in YA. So, so important.

It’s not long, however, until Dylan is replaced in Ash’s mind by her fun, young and engaging English teacher, Miss Murray, who really sees Ash and believes in her. I really liked that Ash’s feelings for Miss Murray and the LGBT element of the novel evolved slowly and steadily. She had to work out what she felt and what all that meant which isn’t always like a lightning strike! Teacher/student romances are some of my favourite relationships to read about and I really loved the way this turned out. It could have gone in many directions, but I think this was true to life and a responsible way to handle a delicate topic. !SPOILER ALERT! I loved that Miss Murray pulled away, that she never officially said anything to Ash that could have been taken the wrong way, that reading through Ash’s perspective could have meant that actually it was just her bias and wishful thinking that made me as a reader think that she had feelings for Ash too. As I said, beautifully done. !SPOILER OVER!

As heroine’s go, Ash is pretty stellar. She’s clever and funny and vulnerable but she’s also gobby and abrasive and makes some very poor choices that could get her into serious trouble. I think she’s pretty representative of lots of eighteen year old girls at the moment. Forced into education when you don’t really want to be there, bored by the teaching and the dry content, making stupid decisions as a distraction from some seriously difficult home and personal issues. But Ash had a teacher who believed in her, who encouraged her and made her realise that she could achieve as week. Sadly, not everyone gets that. I do wonder how different an experience school and the results of it would be if there were better teachers.

Read Me Like a Book is beautiful novel of discovery, love, family and friendship and I thoroughly enjoyed it.