Monday, 24 November 2014

Review: Sia by Josh Grayson

Sia

When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle. 

Sia had so much potential, and the start of the book was so strong for me, that it feels almost sad that I'm writing a pretty average review for this book. It started so well, I almost had chills for the first few chapters, wherein our gorgeous protagonist wakes up on the streets with no memory. Scared and alone, the first person she is approached by is a total creeper and Sia has no idea what to do. She's taken under a homeless woman called Carol's wing, and together they look after each other.

That doesn't last for long though, because just a few chapters in gets home, and this is where the story goes downhill. Sia's life isn't perfect, she lives in a big house with parent's who's company is going down the drain, an alcoholic mother and it turns out she was a total biatch back before she lost her memories. Sia tries to take back her previous life but is restless and uncomfortable, suddenly becoming all righteous and nice.

It's all very inspiring and happy and smiley, but it also reads like a made for Disney movie. It's all content with very little substance and I felt somewhat detached. It just seemed somewhat rushed in a way, like after one conversation with Sia her mother (who has had a bad alcohol habit for years) agrees to go to rehab, then she's better very quickly and none of this felt authentic. Sia's old boyfriend and old friends are pretty annoying and one dimensional - they are just the typical high school bully crowd - and they could have been developed a lot more. The only character I did really like was Kyle who is, thankfully, the main love interest. I didn't like how quickly the romance developed and how obsessed they are by the end of the book, but Kyle was a cool dude. He can stay.

Grayson's writing was simplistic, it read easily but didn't keep me on the edge of my seat. I finished the book in a couple of days and will probably forget about it pretty soon. It isn't, unfortunately, a book that will stay with me for a long time.

It was a nice read to kill time though.

Overall Rating: C

Book released November 20th 2014
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (NetGalley)

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Review: Every Ugly Word by Aimee L. Salter

Every Ugly Word

When seventeen-year-old Ashley Watson walks through the halls of her high school bullies taunt and shove her. She can’t go a day without fighting with her mother. And no matter how hard she tries, she can’t make her best friend, Matt, fall in love with her. But Ashley also has something no one else does: a literal glimpse into the future. When Ashley looks into the mirror, she can see her twenty-three-year-old self.

Her older self has been through it all already—she endured the bullying, survived the heartbreak, and heard every ugly word her classmates threw at her. But her older self is also keeping a dark secret: Something terrible is about to happen to Ashley. Something that will change her life forever. Something even her older self is powerless to stop.

Whatever is at the top of your TBR list right now, ignore it. Go out and buy Every Ugly Word, grab a box of tissues and some snacks and allow yourself a good few hours to devour this book at once. That, i'm afraid, is the only advice I can give after reading this amazing book.

Let's face it, everyone has a bullying story. If you don't then count yourself extremely lucky. Everyone has been singled out for something which is wrong with them. In Ashley's grade, that's her. In mine, it was definitely me and now, at 21 years old, I can look back and say that I was a little crazy and I didn't really help my own cause. I was pushed to the very edge to the point where I cracked, and because of this I was really, extremely hit by Ashley's story. It was gripping, it was thrilling but more than anything it was real. It made me feel uncomfortable, not because of anything bad but because this author really touched on these feelings that a lot of people have felt themselves.

I empathised with Ashley, but she wasn't the only character which was multi-dimensional. I loved Matt, Ashley's caring best friend who she's a little in love with. He wasn't the perfect character, he wanted to be popular, he got annoyed at Ashley's drama and he was all around pretty flawed, but that's what made him a great character.

The concept itself was amazing - Ashley is getting advice from her older-self who she can see in the mirror, but her older self isn't all that open about their future. It's an amazing thought, and it's extremely well delivered. If this was any other book I might complain about why this wasn't explained and the few plot holes that the whole paradox thing causes and how they aren't stitched up all that well, however this book doesn't seem to require any of that. It just... works. That's probably massively down to the beautiful flow of Salter's writing and the way she makes this story come to love. The way the two tenses and perspectives stitch together to create this massive realisation at the end. It is fantastic, and I couldn't fault to writing style at all.

Overall, Every Ugly Word was hardhitting and even difficult to read at times, but it is also one of the best books I have read in a very long time. The writing was beautiful and the story was poignant and the book carries an amazing, self-security message.

Overall Rating: A

Book released July 29th 2014 by Alloy Entertainment
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (NetGalley)

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Shelf Spotlight: 22nd November


Shelf Spotlight is my weekly haul meme where I talk about all of the books that I have got this week in print and ebook format!

It's based on Stacking the Shelves hosted over at Tynga's Reviews and The Sunday Post hosted at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

For review: NetGalley/Edelweiss

So I was trawling trough all of the books for the past few months for anything I may be marginally interested in and may have requested... a lot. Here's what I got!

Finding Harry Styles The Thing I Didn't Know I Didn't Know Every Ugly Word Captive


Red Queen (Red Queen, #1) Siena Solitaire A Wicked Thing


Liars, Inc. The Memory Key Little Peach A Work of Art


The Creeping Twisted Fate Every Last Promise Charlie, Presumed Dead


Illusionarium Proof of Forever  Made You Up The Cost of All Things

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak Heat of the Moment Kissing in America (Kissing in America, #1) Emancipated


Leave a link to your haul and I'll call by!
Also, please feel free to follow via Google Friend Connect or Bloglovin'!

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Review: Linked by Imogen Howson

Linked

For years, Elissa has suffered nightmarish visions and unexplained bruises. Finally, she's promised a cure, and an operation is scheduled. But on the eve of the procedure, Elissa discovers the truth: she's seeing the world through another girl's eyes. A world filled with wires, machines and pain. Elissa follows her visions, only to find a battered, broken girl. A girl who looks exactly like her. A twin she never knew existed. Elissa and her twin Lin go on the run, but even after changing their looks and clothes, they're barely a step ahead of the government agents who are ruthlessly tracking them down. For Lin and Elissa are too valuable to let go, and the dark truth at the heart of it all is too shocking to risk exposing...

I was really excited to start Linked when I got it through for review, but university unfortunately stopped me from immediately devouring it. I did eventually get to read it and I did get through it in a matter of hours. It was intriguing, kept me guessing and didn't fail to shock me in the end.

However - with all the compliments I can give this book - I cannot fail to mention the issues that I had and regretfully, there were quite a few, As a start, I can't not mention how one dimensional I found every character. Elissa had all of the potential to be an interesting, dynamic character but I found her flat and boring instead, which is sad. Lin, her twin, was even worse. She was this confusing characature of a psychotic robot and I couldn't help but grow bored of her crazy/not-crazy act. The romance also fell flat, though there was some light there. It wasn't exactly instalove because the main character has had a crush on her love interest for a while and they haven't only just met. That was a saving grace, because it meant there was some tiny semblance of chemistry there.

The world building also fell short for me, with terms and slang coming out of nowhere with no explanation. However, I understand what Howson was trying to do - she was trying to avoid the inevitable sci-fi infodump - and it did work,somewhat.

The end did shock me, and I am still excited to read the sequel even though I had some faults with this, so I guess that says something.

Overall, Linked had some great potential but fell short on the execution in most areas. I will still read the sequel though, so I can't have disliked it that much!


Overall Rating: C-

Book released August 13th 2013 by Quercus
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Sequels I Can't Wait to Get!


So, an admission, most of these books have already been released. Plus I only have 7 of them!

However some of you may or may not know that I have been away from blogging for a while because of personal studies and other hobbies (Fanfiction, yo!) and now I'm getting back on my feet. Hopefully I will be getting some of these in the near future.

In pretty much no particular order!

1. Prodigy by Marie Lu - So I only just read Legend a few days back (I know! What have I been doing all these years?!) and omfg it was amazing (review to come). The end just had me gasping for air and the whole thing was just so gripping, so this is a definite must have for me.

2. Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughan - Scarlet was such a great read for me and I am so excited so see what happens next, after the Gisbourne thing! I love the setting and world in this fic!

3. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas - Ugh! I need this! The first two books just grabbed me and refused to let me go and I am sooooo desperate to get my hands on this and find out how Celaena and Chaol's story develops!

4. Cress by Marissa Meyer - Cinder and Scarlet were absolutely flawless. Cress takes my all time favorite fairytale so it had better be just as good. I seriously cannot wait to get this (Next months wages!!) yay!

5. World After by Susan Ee - Right. I adored Angelfall and I need this and the third one is soon so this needs to get to me ASAP. That's my reasoning at the moment. Ughhhh Penryn is one of my alltime favorite heroines.

6. Shadowplay by Laura Lam - Pantomime was... something different to anything I had ever read before. It tackles gender issues in a way no other YA book has yet, and yet it was magical and beautfiul and everything I never expected. 

7. Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman - Seraphina was everything I love in a fantasy book, and I can't wait to get my hands on the sequel next year. May need a bit of a refresher though to remember exactly what happened in the first book!

Feel free to link up to your blog and I'll call in and say hi! 
-Jade

Review: The Night Itself by Zoe Marriott

13031257
When fifteen year old Mio Yamato furtively sneaks the katana - an ancestral Japanese sword - out of its hiding place in her parent's attic to help liven up her Christmas party costume, she has no idea of the darkness she is about to unleash on modern day London, or the family secrets that she is going to uncover.

The paralysing paranoia that descends on her before she gets to her friend's party is her first clue. The vivid and terrifying visions that nearly get her killed are a pretty good warning too.

The giant nine-tailed cat demon that comes after the sword and tries to rip her throat out? Overkill.

Seconds away from becoming kitty-food, Mio is saved by Shinobu, a mysterious warrior boy. But it's already too late. Mio has ruptured the veil between the mortal realm and the Underworld, and now the gods and monsters of ancient Japan stalk the streets of London, searching for her and the sword. 

With the help of her best friend Jack, a fox spirit named Hikaru - and the devoted protection of the betwitchingly familiar Shinobu - Mio attempts to discover the true nature of the sword and its connection to the Yamato family. Because if she doesn't learn how to control the katana's incredible powers, she's in danger of being overwhelmed by them. And if she can't keep the sword safe from the terrible creatures who want it for their own, she'll lose not only her own life... but the love of a lifetime.


Zoe Marriott is a goddess, and I am just a humble servant.

Okay, wait, maybe that was a weird way to start this review but, honestly, there's just no other way to put it. I have forever worshipped this woman's writing and she has not failed me yet. I've loved all of her previous books (all fantasy), with Daughter of the Flames being one of my all time favorite reads ever. That being said, I adored Shadows on the Moon and I loved how Marriott weaved in the traditional Japanese intricacies with such ease so I should have been confident about The Night Itself.

Still, somehow I wasn't. Marriott has forever impressed with her fantasy titles but urban fantasy is a whole new ball game. I was hoping that Marriott would not dissapoint and sure enough she didn't. This book is thrilling from the get go, with the action happening pretty fast in. I did have some issues with it but they were, for the most part, rebutted by the awesomeness that is Zoe Marriott's action writing.

There's something about Japanese mythology which has always gripped me, maybe it's my childhood with anime and manga or maybe it's something else, and I loved how these things were written from a British born Japanese girl's point of view. The action was amazingly written - especially the final action scene - and Mio was kick-ass (if sometimes rather annoying). I was gripped from start to finish.

However, as I said above, Mio was pretty annoying to me sometimes. To start with I never got why she took the katana. Forget about her Grandpa's severe warnings and her somewhat confusingly broken memories, what teenager takes a sharp scary sword to a party anyway?! That's just screaming stupid to me. Sure, it completed her costume, but what's up with a plastic katana from eBay?  

Also, as much as I myself swooned over Shinobu, I did have some issues with the love story. I felt that it developed way too quickly (oh why the insta-love, YA authors?!) and it lacked chemistry. Like, I didn't hate it. I shipped it pretty hard by the end, but I would have preferred a few more moments rather than 'ohmygodthisjapaneseguycameoutofmyswordandheshotomg'. I expected better from The-Goddess-That-Is-Zoe-Marriott and this was a tiny letdown.

However any issues that I had with the main cast was easily fixed by the supporting cast. Hikaru and Jack are characters that I adore and I cannot wait to see how all of that plays out. I'll be reading the others even if only for them.

Overall, The Night Itself was not without it's flaws. It was, however, gripping and funny and a really pleasant read.


Overall Rating: B+

Book released July 4th 2013 by Walker Books
Book purchased by myself.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Panic
Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do. Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most.

I first heard of Panic last year, right before the start of my blogging hiatus, I guess I had no idea what to expect - I never got the memo that this is a contemporary for one. I guess because of how much I loved Delirium and Before I Fall I was expecting something similar and in a weird way it is. Lauren Oliver has this undeniable talent for taking contemporary setting and adding this extra to it. In Panic that little extra was the thrill.

Now, I did definitely really enjoy this book, there is no doubt about it, and I really can't fault it since it is in essence the book that brought me out of a year long reading slump. That being said, there were things that I have to bring up. Panic seriously didn't grip me until about two-thirds the way through it. I was enjoying it, in a chilled out, getting-to-know-the-characters way, but the thrill that this book promises didn't really come until quite late in the book and even then it didn't completely reach my expectations. I did enjoy it, my heart was in my chest near the end, and I read the whole thing in the duration of one bath, but I can't help but feel like there could have been a lot more delivery a lot sooner in the book.

That being said, the thing that did keep me reading the whole way through was the characters. At first, Heather is a difficult character to feel anything for - she's weak yet strong, she's the tough girl to her best friend Nat's ditz. I soon began to support her though as she grows. I loved Dodge the whole way through though, and I was praying for a romantic story between him and Heather (at the start), before I realised that in a way he's an antihero. He plays the game for himself and nobody else. Bishop was just a support character at the start but later in the book you realise that his role is a whole lot bigger, and I loved that little curveball. I did love how that whole thing escalated - the Bishop and Heather thing - though romance is definitely not the key part of this book. 

I guess in conclusion I could say that Panic was a pretty average book - and I should probably be scoring it slightly lower than I am - but I can't because there is something about Oliver's writing that keeps me hanging on even if I'm not 100% commited to a book and that is a big part of the reason why Panic is getting a pretty high grade.


Overall Rating: B

Book released March 6th 2014 by Hodder and Stoughton
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review