Monday 12 September 2016

Audiobook Review: Shut Out by Kody Keplinger

Shut Out
Series: None
Length: 7 hours, 19 minutes
Publisher: Hodder Children's Books
Release date: 5th June 2014
Buy: Book Depository | Audible

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Goodreads synopsis:
The girls of Hamilton High School are going on strike.

Sick of the rivalry between their boyfriends' American football and soccer teams, Lissa and her friends are determined that the boys won't see any action from them until they put an end to their immature pranks.

But Lissa hasn't counted on a new sort of rivalry: an impossible girls-against-boys showdown that hinges on who will cave to their libidos first ...

I read this one as an audiobook, and I actually think I ended up enjoying the story more because of this. Kate Reinders did a fantastic job of narrating this story – she was expressive and emotive, and despite her high pitched voice, I could tell when she was reading the dialogue of male characters. The performance was enjoyable and I whizzed through the 7 hour, 20 minute audiobook so fast! (Well, in 7 hours and 20 minutes, obviously, but it didn't feel that long!)

Monday 29 August 2016

Review: My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece
Series: None
Pages: 226
Publisher: Orion
Release date: 1st March 2011
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK

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Goodreads synopsis:
Ten-year-old Jamie Matthews has just moved to the Lake District with his Dad and his teenage sister, Jasmine for a 'Fresh New Start'. Five years ago his sister's twin, Rose, was blown up by a terrorist bomb. His parents are wrecked by their grief, Jasmine turns to piercing, pink hair and stops eating. The family falls apart. But Jamie hasn't cried in all that time. To him Rose is just a distant memory. Jamie is far more interested in his cat, Roger, his birthday Spiderman T-shirt, and in keeping his new friend Sunya a secret from his dad. And in his deep longing and unshakeable belief that his Mum will come back to the family she walked out on months ago. When he sees a TV advert for a talent show, he feels certain that this will change everything and bring them all back together once and for all.

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece is told from the perspective of ten-year-old Jamie, whose older sister Rose was killed in a set of terrorist bombings in London five years previously, and whose ashes now sit in a golden urn on the mantelpiece.
It's the story of life after loss, family and friendship despite differences. It's a coming-of-age story with some seriously dark and deeply sad foundations.
Despite the heaviness of the topics it discusses, however, the book feels almost hopeful. It's set in Ambleside in the Lake District (coincidentally one of my favourite places on the planet) and begins when Jamie is about to start a new school, far from the London home he grew up in.

Monday 15 August 2016

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys
Series: Raven Boys #1
Pages: 454
Publisher: Scholastic (UK)
Release date: 19th September 2012
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK

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Goodreads synopsis:
Even if Blue hadn't been told her true love would die if she kissed him, she would stay away from boys. Especially the ones from the local private school. Known as Raven Boys, they only mean trouble.

But this is the year that everything will change for Blue.

This is the year that she will be drawn into the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys. And the year Blue will discover that magic does exist.

This is the year she will fall in love.

The Raven Boys is one that I've been wanting to pick up for several years now, but for some reason it never made it to the top of the list. I started reading it at long last because I would be meeting Maggie at YALC and I wanted to have read some of her stuff before meeting her (she's lovely, by the way. If you have the chance to meet her, go do it!). That and I've had friends constantly telling me how much I would love her writing.
I was only a couple of chapters in when I could see just how right my friends were – I could tell early on that I was going to adore the Raven Boys!

Tuesday 9 August 2016

Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard
Series: Truthwitch #1
Pages: 415
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release date: 5th January 2016
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK

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Goodreads synopsis:
In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

This book was one of those rare times that I was ridiculously excited to read it, despite having never picked up a book by this author before. It was the kind of excitement reserved for Neil Gaiman, Sarah J Maas, Matt Haig and David Levithan.
It was a kind of excitement that perhaps gave this book shoes that were just a little too big for it to fill. Expectations and hype are dangerous things, and unfortunately, I don't think they gave Truthwitch much of a chance.

Tuesday 28 June 2016

Review: The Next Together by Lauren James

The Next Together
Series: The Next Together #1
Pages: 356
Publisher: Walker Books
Release date: 3rd September 2015
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK

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Goodreads synopsis:
How many times can you lose the person you love?

Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time, their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.

Spanning the Crimean War, the Siege of Carlisle and the near-future of 2019 and 2039 they find themselves sacrificing their lives to save the world. But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?

Maybe the next together will be different...

A powerful and epic debut novel for teenagers about time-travel, fate and the timelessness of first love. The Next Together is told through a mixture of regular prose, diary entries, letters, "original" historical documents, news reports and internet articles.

The Next Together is marketed as a sort of time-travel romance, but I’m not 100% sure if that’s entirely accurate. It is a romance, I suppose, in that there is a relationship between the two main characters, Matthew and Katherine, but I wouldn’t say that it’s the main focus of the book. Not really.
The relationship between the two characters seems to be a catalyst for other events throughout history. Each time the characters come together – be it in the 18th Century, or the 21st – they affect the events around them. The story seems to be more about what’s happening around the characters than about the relationship itself, especially as we know that the relationship will happen in one way or another each time they appear together in history.

Sunday 19 June 2016

The Painted Man by Peter V. Brett **Audiobook Review**

The Painted Man
(The Warded Man, US)

Series: The Demon Cycle #1
Pages: 544
Publisher: Voyager
Release date: 1st April 2009
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK           Audible UK

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Goodreads synopsis:
As darkness falls after sunset, the corelings rise—demons who possess supernatural powers and burn with a consuming hatred of humanity. For hundreds of years the demons have terrorized the night, slowly culling the human herd that shelters behind magical wards—symbols of power whose origins are lost in myth and whose protection is terrifyingly fragile. It was not always this way. Once, men and women battled the corelings on equal terms, but those days are gone. Night by night the demons grow stronger, while human numbers dwindle under their relentless assault. Now, with hope for the future fading, three young survivors of vicious demon attacks will dare the impossible, stepping beyond the crumbling safety of the wards to risk everything in a desperate quest to regain the secrets of the past. Together, they will stand against the night.

I read this as an audiobook, narrated by Colin Mace. I've only recently started getting into audiobooks, and this is actually only the second novel I've listened to in that format (the others being non-fiction titles such as 'Fry's English Delight' and the like). I didn't think I would be able to immerse myself in the story properly if I was to listen to it rather than read it, but I've found that not to be the case – especially with The Painted Man (also known as The Warded Man).
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