Book Review: Monster (Michael Grant)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Egmont

Pages: 464

Release Date: October 19th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

When the dome came down, they thought it was the end of the troubles. Truth is, it was just the beginning.

Shade Darby witnessed events that day, with devastating consequences, and vowed never to feel that powerless again. Now, four years later, she gets her hands on a part of the meteor that began it all – and that’s when she changes.

Trouble is, Shade’s not the only one mutating, and the authorities cannot allow these superpowers to go unchecked . . .

Review:

Confession time: I’ve not read the Gone series by Michael Grant. I’ve seen the name around a few times as I’ve read some of his other books, but when this one dropped through my mailbox I didn’t realise it was the continuation of another series.

After reading this, I really need to read the Gone series. There’s something quite cool about reading something and finding out there are more books to read before this story takes place. I was really into this story and able to understand what was going on, but it’s nice to know that I can read in full all the previous events that were alluded to.

Shade Darby was there when the dome came up, a helpless child who saw her mother die in the chaos that followed. Now older and determined never to be helpless again, Shade has tracked down part of the meteor that began everything and is going to take matters and power into her own hands. But other people have come across parts too, and their intentions might not be as good as Shade’s.

This book does have some old characters from the previous series in it, and lots of references to what happened in those books, so I guess I was starting on the back foot a little with it, but I still really enjoyed it. It has a similar format to Grant’s Soldier Girl series, in that lots of different viewpoints and stories are covered, rather than seeing things from one protagonist’s point of view, and that helped show the scale of the problem as bits of the meteor landed and were discovered across the world (my particular favourite was the baby who used part of it as a teether in Scotland).

There’s a lot of graphic and gross descriptions in the book that made it feel very gritty and real. While there are lots of references to comic book superheroes, our characters are very different from the usual spandex-clad heroes. Their powers come with grim transformations: no one sounds graceful or beautiful, they’re all monsters in their own way.

The book deals with questions of power and responsibility, and what happens when great power like this gets into anyone’s hands: wrong or right, there’s always going to be consequences. Even with someone like Shade, who means well, good intentions often aren’t enough to stop you from making terrible decisions and hurting the ones you love.

This is an exciting, action-packed story that grips you from beginning to end. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next to these characters and the changing world they’re in, as well as reading the Gone series to see how it all started.

Book Review: No Shame (Anne Cassidy)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Pages: 192

Release Date: September 21st 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Stacey Woods has been raped and now she has to go through a different ordeal – the court trial. But nothing in life it seems is black and white and life is not always fair or just. Suddenly it seems that she may not be believed and that the man who attacked her may be found not guilty . . . if so Stacey will need to find a way to rebuild her life again . . .

Continue reading “Book Review: No Shame (Anne Cassidy)”

Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (Lauren James)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Walker Books

Pages: 290

Release Date: September 7th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?

Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.

Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?

Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .

Continue reading “Book Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (Lauren James)”

Book Review: Moonrise (Sarah Crossan)

*I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Pages: 400

Release Date: September 7th 2017

Summary (From Goodreads):

‘They think I hurt someone.
But I didn’t. You hear?
Coz people are gonna be telling you
all kinds of lies.
I need you to know the truth.’

Joe hasn’t seen his brother for ten years, and it’s for the most brutal of reasons. Ed is on death row.

But now Ed’s execution date has been set, and Joe is determined to spend those last weeks with him, no matter what other people think …

From one-time winner and two-time Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this poignant, stirring, huge-hearted novel asks big questions. What value do you place on life? What can you forgive? And just how do you say goodbye?

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Book Review: Indigo Donut (Patrice Lawrence)

* I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books

Pages: 400

Release Date: July 13th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

A story of longing, belonging and trust. Two very different young people discover who loves them, and who they can love back.

Bailey is 17, mixed race, lives with his mum and dad in Hackney and spends all his time playing guitar or tending to his luscious ginger afro. Indigo is 17 and new to London, having grown up in the care system after being found by her mum’s dead body as a toddler. All Indigo wants is to know who she really is. When Bailey and Indigo meet at sixth form, sparks fly. But when Bailey becomes the target of a homeless man who seems to know more about Indigo than is normal, Bailey is forced to make a choice he should never have to make.

A story about falling in love and everyone’s need to belong.

Continue reading “Book Review: Indigo Donut (Patrice Lawrence)”

Book Review: Flight of a Starling (Lisa Heathfield)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Electric Monkey

Pages: 320

Release Date: June 29th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Rita and Lo, sisters and best friends, have spent their lives on the wing – flying through the air in their trapeze act, never staying in one place for long. Behind the greasepaint and the glitter, they know that the true magic is the family they travel with.

Until Lo meets a boy. Suddenly, she wants nothing more than to stay still. And as secrets start to tear apart the close-knit circus community, how far will Lo go to keep her feet on the ground?

Review:

I’ve really enjoyed Lisa Heathfield’s last two books – Seed and Paper Butterflies – so I had some pretty high expectations going to this one (no pressure!) Thankfully I enjoyed this one as much as the others. Her lyrical prose is gorgeous and I could eat up her words for breakfast, lunch and dinner and still want more.

Rita and Lo are sisters who perform in a travelling circus. They’re a close-knit family, at home with each other as they travel from place to place. Until Lo learns a secret that shatters her world, and meets at boy who makes her want to stay put. As her life unravels Lo does everything she can to keep things together.

I wasn’t sure about the description at first, as a teen meeting a boy and wanting to change her whole life for him irked me a great deal. It happens a lot in YA and I know when you’re a teen a new romance can feel like everything but I don’t like that whole ‘I must die or be with the one I love’ type plotline.

I felt there was more to this than that though. I didn’t really feel the romance connection with Lo and Dean – he felt a bit muted to me – but I did feel everything that Lo associated with him that made her want to stay with him. After learning an awful secret that could break her whole family apart, Lo feels like Dean can keep things together for her, keep her grounded even if that means staying put with him.

I was a bit annoyed that the secret Lo discovers wasn’t resolved at the end. I wanted her to tell someone, I wanted some kind of explanation or revelation, but there was nothing. I guess that’s truer to how real life goes though: there’s not always an explanation and everything tied up neatly. You just have to get on with things.

As with Heathfield’s other books, the ending packs a real punch. It wasn’t what I was expecting so when things took a turn for the worse it was a real blow. Even though I knew things couldn’t work out happily, I kept wishing some kind of miracle would come along and change things. It was a devastating lesson in what an action at your lowest point can mean for the rest of your life. It hurt most to see Lo’s family dealing with the fallout of what she did and my heart broke for them.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of the romance aspect of the book, I loved the sister relationship and Heathfield’s evocative prose keeps you reading late into the night. Don’t expect a happy ending, but do expect to enjoy the ride.

On a final note, and I said it at the end of my last review too, I really hope there’s a Seed sequel in the works somewhere! 🙂

4

Book Review: The Hundred Names of Darkness (Nilanjana Roy)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Pushkin Children’s Books

Pages: 316

Release Date: July 7th 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

In the sequel to her critically acclaimed, bestselling novel, The Wildings, Nilanjana Roy takes us back to the Delhi neighbourhood of Nizamuddin and its unforgettable cats – Mara, Southpaw, Katar, Hulo and Beraal. As they recover slowly from their terrible battle with the feral cats, they find their beloved locality changing around them. Winter brings an army of predators – humans, vicious dogs, snakes, bandicoots along with the cold and a scarcity of food Unless Mara can help them find a safe haven, their small band will be wiped out forever. With the assistance of a motley group of friends Doginder, a friendly stray Hatch, a cheel who is afraid of the sky; Thomas Mor, an affable peacock Jethro Tail, the mouse who roared and the legendary Senders of Delhi – Mara and her band set out on an epic journey to find a place where they can live free from danger.

Review:

This book picks up where The Wildings left off – after the battle with the ferals, the Bigfeet are making life hard for the wildings, and that coupled with a hot dry summer mean they’ll face starvation unless Mara can find somewhere else to live.

Again, this took me longer to read than a book of this length normally would. I think it’s because it does read more like a classic than the usual YA I read, and I always read classics slower/struggle with them a little. But I really enjoyed entering this world again, spending time with the familiar characters, meeting some new ones and seeing them all grow and change.

Mara meets some fellow Senders and learns what it means to be a Sender. When a chance accident forces her outside her home she has to learn to be brave in the outside world. It was great to see her facing her fears and stepping up to her role as Sender. We also get to learn a bit more about her history, with some surprising revelations.

While we do see a lot of the old characters we loved in the first book, I missed Ozzy and the zoo animals in this sequel – I really wanted to see more of them. Still, the new characters made up for the lack of tigers. Thomas, a peacock who lives on a golf course, was a great new addition and made me laugh a fair few times.

The villains of this story weren’t as scary as the ferals, but what they lacked in creepiness they made up for in volume. I loved the way the different plotlines of the book wove into each other and how everything was resolved in the end. It was a neatly tied-off ending but I’m still holding out hope that there’s more to come from Mara and her friends!

4

Book Review: If Birds Fly Back (Carlie Sarosiak)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books

Pages: 352

Release Date: June 29th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Linny has been living life in black and white since her sister Grace ran away, and she’s scared that Grace might never come back. When Linny witnesses the return to Miami of a cult movie star long presumed dead, she is certain it’s a sign. Surely Álvaro Herrera, of all people, can tell her why people come back – and how to bring her sister home?

Sebastian has come to Miami seeking his father, a man whose name he’s only just learned. An aspiring astrophysicist, he can tell Linny how many galaxies there are, how much plutonium weighs and how likely she is to be struck by a meteorite. But none of the theories he knows are enough to answer his own questions about why his father abandoned him, and why it left him in pieces.

As Sebastian and Linny converge around the mystery of Álvaro’s disappearance – and return – their planets start to collide. Linny’s life is about to become technicolor, but finding the answers to her questions might mean losing everything that matters.

Review:

This was a lovely coming of age romance story about Linny, a girl whose sister has disappeared and Sebastian, a boy whose father has just reappeared. They work together to resolve the mystery of celebrity Álvaro Herrera’s disappearance and help each other with their own issues.

The book is dual narrative and both voices were perfect. I never stopped half way through a chapter, came back to it and wondered whose story I was reading. They were both very distinctive voices and characters and I adored each of them.

As well as the main story, each of Linny’s chapters start with notes from her book of people who have disappeared, and Sebastian’s start with a quote from A Brief Compendium of Astrophysical Curiosities. There’s also excerpts from a screenplay Linny has written to cope with her sister’s disappearance and it’s really beautiful.

The pair work really well together, both a little nerdy in their own way, both a bit uncomfortable in their own skins and both trying to deal with huge issues. It’s one of those relationships that just makes me want to squeeze them together until they realise how perfect they are.

The emotions in this book are raw and intense and you’ll get swept away in the wonderful relationship. This isn’t just a love story though: it’s about friendship, fathers, sisters and coping with grief and the unthinkable. I just know this is going to be a big hit and I can’t wait to see people falling in love with Linny and Sebastian.

4

Book Review: Day 7 (Kerry Drewery)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Pages: 448

Release Date: June 15th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Martha Honeydew has been released from the terrifying Cell 7. But despite her new freedom, the corrupt judicial system is still tracking Martha’s every move. And Isaac, her only trusted friend, is now imprisoned in the very same cells she was. Isaac saved Martha’s life, it is only right she now saves his.

But with Martha still a target, her chances of saving Isaac are remote. Martha begins to question whether it is ever possible to escape government scrutiny.

Will Martha and Isaac ever reunite?

Will they ever live in a better world?

Review:

I really enjoyed Cell 7 last year, so when I saw this on NetGalley I had to request it straight away. Even though Cell 7 ended on a big cliffhanger, I hadn’t really thought about it having a sequel, but I’m so glad it did.

Day 7 picks up where Cell 7 left off – Marth has been freed from death row after Isaac admitted to shooting his dad and revealed the corruption and blackmail in their justice session. But instead of a happy ending, Isaac is on death row and Martha is on the run while her friends face the consequences of helping her.

It was great to be back in the world Drewery has created. It seems exaggerated at first glance but the scary thing is how easy you could see us getting to that point. An X-Factor style voting justice system doesn’t seem that far away some days. In this book, we see the Buzz for Justice TV show where three members of the public can vote to send a petty criminal to prison (and pay for the privilege, of course). The bias is clear for the reader to see but I can imagine how the audience gets caught up in the drama of it all.

The book gets off to a bit of a slow start and I did struggle to get into it at first. Martha’s a bit lost on what to do and things felt a little aimless until she got a plan together.

In contrast, the ending is just insane. It’s so tense as day seven arrives for Isaac, Max tries to combat the public’s voting and Martha has to decide how far she’ll go to save Isaac. I didn’t know which way were things going to go and the climax surprised and frustrated me – frustrated because it looks like there’s going to be a third book and I’ll have to wait a year to read it!

This is a tense book about deception, manipulation and the power of the media and draws some scary parallels to our world today and where we could be heading. If you’ve read Cell 7 then this is a must read, if you’ve not then pick it up and hurry on to this one!

4

Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi (Sandhya Menon)

* I have been given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review *

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Pages: 384

Release Date: May 30th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

The arranged-marriage YA romcom you didn’t know you wanted or needed…

Meet Dimple.

Her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and begin her plan for tech world domination.

Meet Rishi.

He’s rich, good-looking and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she’s got other plans…

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, Jenny Han and Nicola Yoon, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI is a frothy, funny contemporary romance set at a coding convention in San Francisco over one exciting summer. Told from the dual perspectives of two Indian American protagonists, Dimple is fighting her family traditions while Rishi couldn’t be happier to follow in the footsteps of his parents. Could sparks fly between this odd couple, or is this matchmaking attempt doomed to fail?

Review:

This is one of the cutest romance books I’ve ever met. I just want to get Dimple and Rishi and smush their faces together. This book gave me so many gooey moments and genuine smiles and I fell in love with both characters.

Dimple feels she’s disappointing her parents by not wearing makeup and searching for a husband, but she has career aspirations that come first, and a summer coding camp might be the perfect way to kickstart her career. Rishi is an old head on young shoulders: he wants to marry, have children and please his parents. He’s happy to marry Dimple, the girl his parents have picked out for him, but she might have other ideas.

First off, it’s great to see diverse characters in YA, and these are now two of my favourites. I have a mega soft spot for Rishi: he made me laugh out loud a few times and I thought his gestures towards Dimple were so thoughtful and sweet. I loved the conflict Dimple had: would she be betraying herself if she fell for a boy, and one her parents hand picked no less? It was really thought provoking and the way it was resolved was perfect (I’ll say no more, no spoilers!)

This is the first Indian American romance I’ve read and I loved the way the culture was represented. Both characters had their religion and their origins but felt differently about it: Rishi loved talking to others about his culture while Dimple felt she didn’t really fit anywhere, in America or India. The mix of languages was cool to see too, and felt very natural: I grew up in a household that used a mix of English and Urdu and I saw similarities in some of the words used here, and learnt some new ones too!

To criticise, there were some pretty cheesy moments – mostly the way that Rishi talking about Dimple – and I felt the plot got a little predictable towards the end, though the ending was perfect. Still, who doesn’t like a huge dollop of cheese on their romance (that sounds gross now I’ve written it…) I thought the plot line with Celia was a little underdeveloped, but at the same time I wasn’t that bothered because I was too focussed on Dimple and Rishi.

People have been raving about this book for months so I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you it’s going to be the hit of the summer. It’s got the most adorable romance, and two strong, diverse and lovable characters that you won’t be able to help falling in love with. Do yourself a favour and buy this book.

Copy of an art exhibit