Review: Interference by Kay Honeyman

As a Congressman's daughter in Washington, DC, Kate Hamilton is good at getting what she wants -- what some people might call "interfering." But when her family moves to West Texas so her dad can run in a special election, Kate encounters some difficulties that test all her political skills. None of her matchmaking efforts go according to plan. Her father's campaign gets off to a rough start. A pro tip for moving to Texas: Don't slam the star quarterback's hand in a door. And whenever Kate messes up, the irritatingly right (and handsome) Hunter Price is there to witness it. But Kate has determination and a good heart, and with all her political savvy -- and a little clever interference -- she'll figure out what it takes to make Red Dirt home.

All I seem to have been wanting to read recently are cute, fun teen romance contemporary style books.  Don't ask me why, I honestly couldn't tell you. 

Anyway, they say don't judge a book by the cover, but I could tell based on the cover that this was a book that I really wanted to read (that font, those colours!), and the blurb just solidified this for me. This was not going to be a book that I was going to need to force myself to get stuck into. And yes, from the sexond I opened this book (metaphorically - I read it on my kindle) I was hooked. The voice was just so amazing, Honeyman gives this book a really relaxed, fun feel. The story is told in first person from Kate and Honeyman gives us a consistent, snarky and casual narrative voice that really fit with me.

I really loved the political side of things, it gives an intersting twist to what may have been a simple YA love story. Kate knows politics, she knows what she needs to say and what she needs to do to keep her father's campaign on track and this is a great device for showing the relationships both suffer and develop in this book. I really enjoyed reading this side.

However, my favorite bits to read were Kate's interactions with her friends and other people. Ana was one of my favorite characters (it's no coincidence that one of my best friends is called Ana, one 'n'). I loved the way she supported Kate and in return Kate tries to help Ana, though it goes off the rails a little bit. Their friendship was honest and realistic and a brilliant thing to have. Hunter though, solid, lovely Hunter - he will forever be etched on Jade's 'Book boyfriend's list). Maybe I'm getting a littttttle too old for him, but he is just so lovely and charming and his interactions with Kate were the highlight of this book for me. 

Even the 'bad guys' are well written and have some kind of...  understanding towards the end. A tentative start to what may be development on their side, so I think that was an especially great thing to have as well. I think this may stem from the small town kind of setting, this time and understanding I think everybody has for one another. This small town setting was like a character on it's own - as Kate began to grow accustomed and want to call it home, I did as well. I think this was probably Honeyman's aim and she executed it perrrrrfectly!

If I had to dig for negative things to say, I would point out that towards the middle of this book I did began to loose interest the teeniest bit, but that was for a very short period of time. That is really all I could say...

Overall, Interference is one of the best written, most engaging contemporary reads I have read in the last year. The characters are well written, the voice is engaging, the plot os entertaining and well researched and the setting is something special. If I could go on, I would, but I'll wrap up with this: Kay Honeyman is definitely one I will be watching out for.

Overall Rating: A

Book released 27th September 2016 by Arthur A. Levine Books
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

The Female of the Species

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.

While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.

But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.

So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.

Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

Oh gosh. This book... 

It was absolutely breathtakingly amazing. I have been putting it off because it's quite dark and I wasn't entirely sure whether it was my bag, especially as Mindy McGinnis hasn't really impressed me much before. I picked it up after reading a brilliant review and it just blew me away.

This book isn't a book that has been written solely to entertain - it's a book that makes you think, that makes you doubt the way you think about killers and vengeance and motives. It was so well written. Alex was such an unbelievably well written character - she was layered, a tough nut with a soft nougat centre, but rather than just being the tough girl in most YA books she takes a completely different form. I loved that.

Jack and Peekay were also brilliant as supporting characters, their reactions are realistic and they are extremely integral to the way the story develops, and their relationships with alex are really important in giving this cold girl some humanity. Also important was the job at the vetinarians that Alex takes. McGinnis really thought through how to develop this plot and this character and whats more, she executed it extremely well as well.

I kept myself guessing all the way through about how this book was going to end. None of the endings I clould make up felt 'right', but the way Mindy McGinnis finished the book just worked perfectly for me. It was just... touching and perfect.

Overall, The Female of the Species was a wonderful, perfectly written book which absolutely blew me away and made me step back and think about a lot of things. Think Dexter, for the YA audience.

Overall Rating: A

Book released September 20th 2016 by Katherine Tegen
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: We Know It Was You by Maggie Thrash

We Know It Was You (Strange Truth, #1)

It’s better to know the truth. At least sometimes.

Halfway through Friday night’s football game, beautiful cheerleader Brittany Montague—dressed as the giant Winship Wildcat mascot—hurls herself off a bridge into Atlanta’s surging Chattahoochee River.

Just like that, she’s gone.

Eight days later, Benny Flax and Virginia Leeds will be the only ones who know why.

We Know It Was You could have been a whole lot... more. In fact, I really wanted it to be. This could have been Gone Girl for the teen audience, instead it was like a car crash, a complete wreck of a book that I could make absolutely no sense of.

The start was good, I really could have enjoyed the book if it had kept on that same route - mysterious missing cheerleader, mystery club, Benny and Virginia... it all started so well.

Then the 'twists' started, and this book morphed into something I couldn't quite figure out... there's a male pornography ring that somehow comes into it all, and a woman hypnotising her boyfriend into sleeping with her (sexual assault anyone)? And out main characters and a random german cougar hunter getting themselves involved in some pretty crazy stuff. And nobody even tries to tell a parent.

I just didn't like the way this book dealt with problems - there were some really intriguing storylines pop up, like Virginia's stalker stuff, but they just got left behind and unresolved and the book just felt confusing and incomplete to me.

Overall, We Know It Was You was a read that tried too hard to be shocking and new, as a result it just became pretty unreadable for me. I finished the book hoping it got clearer and better, unfortunately it didn't.

Overall Rating: D-

Book released October 4th 2016 by Simon Pulse
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: Extraordinary October by Diana Wagman

Extraordinary October

October is an ordinary girl. From her plain looks to her average grades, there seems to be nothing special about her. Then, three days before her eighteenth birthday, she develops a strange itch that won’t go away, and her life is turned upside down. Suddenly, she can hear dogs talk, make crows fly, and two new and very handsome boys at school are vying for her affections. After she starts “transplanting” herself through solid rock, October learns that she is not ordinary at all, but the daughter of a troll princess and a fairy prince, and a pawn in a deadly war between the trolls and the fairies. Now October will have to use all of her growing powers to save her family, and stop a mysterious evil that threatens to destroy the fairy world.

In the fantastical vein of authors such as Julie Kagawa and Holly Black, Extraordinary October takes us on a magical journey from the streets of Los Angeles to the beautiful and mythical underground fairy kingdom.

Why is this book not getting more publicity, it is literally a fun amalgamation of all of the fantasy books that have been 'big'. Think The Iron Fey series, meets the Wicked Lovely series, throw in a little of Trylle series and a Disney style evil queen and you get something like Extraordinary October - this was a really fun and quick read that I enjoyed.

At the start I didn't think this book would work for me - the writing seemed a little clunky and the protagonist spent the first few chapters talking about how plain and ordinary she was, how nobody really notices her and her life is nothing special. I hate that kind of stuff and it was seriously overload in this book at times, but the writing started to work and when we got to the plot this book really picked up and October came into her own.

I loved the whole interspecies chosen one thing, and I loved the individual traits that the fairies (who like birds and have addictive personalities) and the trolls (mushroom digging) had - I also really enjoyed reading about how they came together to defeat the bad guy, it was a fun romp.

I mean, this book isn't breaking any records - I'm not sure it's going to be on the best books I have read this year list, but it's pure escapism and brings back a genre which seems to have fizzled a bit in the last few years.

If you liked any faerie series (Tithe, Wicked Lovely, The Replacement, Trylle) then I would recommend you give this book a go, it was an enjoyable fun read. 

Overall Rating: B-

Book released October 11th 2016 by Ig Publishing
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Holding Up the Universe
Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything in new and bad-ass ways, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. . . . Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.

Some people are so sensitive. Like all the people saying that this book romanticizes mental illness. Yes, this book has two characters who are going through their own stuff, but just by having a character who has propaganasia doesn't mean that this book is romanticising in. This book is about two characters coming together to support each other through times of hardship, and helping each other to become the best version of themselves. Just because Libby is obese doesn't mean that Niven is standing up and saying 'OBESITY IS OKAY' - she is just using it as a plot device to make the character that she thinks will make this book special.

Okay, rant over - but it really upsets me to see people rating down a book that they haven't read based on assumptions.

Okay, rant really over.

I just really enjoyed this book, not only was it gorgeously written, but it really made me think. Jack and Libby's relationship is completely unexpected, but it works for the two of them and that was a perfect thing to read, and the way it all developed was not only sweet but it was entertaining. Remember people, books are meant to entertain - they are meant to make us think and make us smile and make us happy, this book did that for me. As is expected, there are some awful characters in this book and some not so smiley moments, but did this book make me squee and did I close this book with a smile on my face? Yes. Therefore, I think it served it's purpose.

I haven't read anything else by Niven yet (I have All The Bright Places on my bookshelf though) but if this is a reflection of her writing I know I will read anything brought out by her in the future. 

Overall, Holding Up the Universe was a book that made me smile and happy, it is completely cute and very inoffensive. 

Overall Rating: A-

Book released 6th October 2016 by Penguin Books (UK)
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

Labyrinth Lost (Brooklyn Brujas, #1)

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation...and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can't trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland...

Alice in Wonderland with the type of diversity we keep campaigning for - that is exactly how I would describe Labyrinth Lost and isn't that such an exciting description?

I was absorbed into this book from the first page, when we meet Alex and are pulled into her family of witches and tradition and all of the dysfunction that goes with that. I was excited by the prospect of a bruja that hadn't found her power and her deathday upcoming and that part of the book did not disappoint, in fact it was really enjoyable to read. Straight from the start, it was clear to see that Cordova is a very talented author.

However when we got into the main chunk of this book, my interest began to waver. To start with I was really into the Los Lagos world and Nova and Alex's journey through it, but despite the fact that there were many obstactles, I just started to lose focus. It just seemed quite uninteresting, like I was waiting for something to happen but between 25% and 75% not a whole lot did. I still read it, but I can't say I was caring a whole lot about what happened.

There was a big climax, and this redeemed itself a little as did the ending, but because the majority of this book barely kept me hanging on I can't really say that means a whole lot.

Another thing that I have to fault was Risa and Alex's relationship. It felt very forced, and I was initially excited by a gay relationship in YA fiction, but because Risa just sort of dropped in when Nova and Alex had been at things themselves I didn't really see this work for me. I wanted Nova by that point, Risa just seemed to be an awkward add on.

Now, don't get me wrong. Labyrinth Lost wasn't a bad book, I read it from start to finish and I really enjoyed the premise, but it lost me at a few points and the romance didn't work for me, so whilst i'd recommend this book if your local library stocked it, I personally wouldn't be in a rush to buy it. 

Overall Rating: C-

Book released September 6th 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns (Untitled, #1)

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

Kendare Blake is such a consistently good author. I loved Anna Dressed in Blood and I enjoyed Antigoddess, by this point I am obligated to enjoy everything to woman puts out. Three Dark Crowns was in no way an exception.

Now, I think part of the reason I can't say I adored this book is to do with the fact that recently I have been on a run of shallow, cute contemporary reads and Three Dark Crowns was much darker and much more loaded than anything that I read recently. That being said, I still really really enjoyed this book and I can honestly say Kendare Blake has done it again. #KendareBlakeHasDoneItAgain, can we make that a trending hashtag?

This book is about three sisters - more like strangers than family - that have been brought up in different environments with the same knowledge - two must die, one must live. We join the girls a few months before the Ascension Year - the year they have to battle to the death - and we see their development up until then. 

To start with I wasn't 100% keen on the split points of view, but because each of the girls had such unique personalities and voices, I didn't find myself getting confused and it started to work for me. Now, I have to say that my favorite of the three Queens was Katharine, so I enjoyed reading her parts more than the other girls, but each arc and the overriding main story kept me hooked anyway. My favorite bit was where they all came together and things started to go a bit cray-cray.

Now the end is written to shock, but with regards to Arsinoe's discovery I had already sort of guessed that - Katharine's ending was a shocker though, and almost a literal cliffhanger, so I am definitely hooked into wanting the next book already, because this is a story that is nowhere near finished yet and I can say that I am absolutely hooked.

There isn't much more that I can say about this book - Kendare Blake has proved once again that she is a brilliant author and world builder, and my faith in her has grown even stronger. I seriously enjoyed this book, even despite a few flaws which keep it from getting the very top ratings.

Overall Rating: A-

Book released September 20th 2016 by HarperTeen
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review