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 . . .

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Book Review: We See Everything (William Sutcliffe)

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

Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books

Pages: 304

Release Date: September 21st 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Lex lives on The Strip – the overcrowded, closed-off, bombed-out shell of London. He’s used to the watchful enemy drones that buzz in the air above him.

Alan’s talent as a gamer has landed him the job of his dreams. At a military base in a secret location, he is about to start work as a drone pilot.

These two young men will never meet, but their lives are destined to collide. Because Alan has just been assigned a high-profile target. Alan knows him only as #K622. But Lex calls him Dad.

Review:

This is a short novel that packs a big punch and expertly shows two different sides to the same story.

Lex lives on The Strip, what remains of London after bombs have ruined it. His dad works for a group that rebels against the oppressors who watch over them through drones in the sky. This makes him and his family well respected in The Strip. It also makes him a target.

Alan has just landed a dream job as a drone pilot. He watches over his target day in day out, waiting for the day the order will be given to assassinate #K622 – Lex’s dad.

Lex and Alan are complete opposites in character: Lex is a nice guy who cares for his family, treats the girl he falls for well and wants to do what he can to help his dad and the rebellion. Alan is rude to his mother and treats his job the same as he does a computer game: the targets to him aren’t living breathing people, just something on a screen to be destroyed at the touch of a button.

I didn’t dislike Alan as much as everyone else seems to. I understand that he thinks he’s doing a good job and protecting the world from terrorists. He does behave badly towards a girl but at least shows some remorse for it. And when it comes to crunch time, he falters.

Lex was a little bland for me and I was so annoyed how he disobeyed his Dad’s orders, which were so obviously meant to keep him safe. I know that’s what kids do but it’s annoying when they put themselves in danger just to get laid!

I loved the 1984 feel to the story, with drones watching everything that people do from the sky, the feeling of never being safe, of nothing being private. The picture of this hollow shell of London was beautifully painted, with the references to real places making it easy to picture. I did want to know more about what happened and how they got to that stage as the background is a little lacking.

The ending felt a bit odd to me: it all felt very rushed, then suddenly very slow as it covered a long period of time after the main events of the book. On the one hand, it was kind of cool to see how the characters lives went on afterward, but it just felt a strange way to end things.

This is a quick read, a kind of cautionary tale for where we could be headed and will be sure to delight any fans of 1984, or Malorie Blackman.

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Book Review: The Death House (Sarah Pinborough)

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

Publisher: Gollancz

Pages: 288

Release Date: May 29th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Toby is a boy who has forgotten how to live.
Clara is a girl who was born to die.

Toby’s life was perfectly normal . . .
Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House. Isolated from the outside world the inhabitants of are watched for any signs of a mysterious illness . . .

Clara was a girl who had everything. Adored by her friends and her family, her life was destined for greatness. Now, Clara is the newest resident of the Death House and she’s determined not to allow her life to end there.

This is Toby and Clara’s story.

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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 . . .

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Book Review: The Mystery of the Painted Dragon (Katherine Woodfine)

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

Publisher: Egmont

Pages: 339

Release Date: February 9th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

When a priceless painting is stolen, our dauntless heroines Sophie and Lil find themselves faced with forgery, trickery and deceit on all sides!

Be amazed as the brave duo pit their wits against this perilous puzzle! Marvel at their cunning plan to unmask the villain and prove themselves detectives to be reckoned with – no matter what dangers lie ahead . . .

It’s their most perilous adventure yet!

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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.

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Book Review: A Change is Gonna Come (by lots of awesome YA authors)

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

Publisher: Stripes Publishing

Pages: 384

Release Date: August 10th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

Featuring top Young Adult authors alongside a host of exciting new talent, this anthology of stories and poetry from BAME writers on the theme of change is a long-overdue addition to the YA scene. Contributors include Tanya Byrne, Inua Ellams, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Ayisha Malik, Irfan Master, Musa Okwonga and Nikesh Shukla.

Plus introducing four fresh new voices in YA fiction: Mary Bello, Aisha Bushby, Yasmin Rahman and Phoebe Roy.

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Book Review: S.T.A.G.S (M. A. Bennett)

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

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Pages: 402

Release Date: August 10th 2017

Summary (from Goodreads):

It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin’ shootin’ fishin’. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.

But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry’s parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports – hunting, shooting and fishing – become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school…

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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! 🙂

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