Review: Clockwise by Elle Strauss

Clockwise (Clockwise, #1)
Casey Donovan has issues: hair, height and uncontrollable trips to the 19th century! And now this --she's accidentally taken Nate Mackenzie, the cutest boy in the school, back in time. Awkward. Protocol pressures her to tell their 1860 hosts that he is her brother and when Casey finds she has a handsome, wealthy (and unwanted) suitor, something changes in Nate. Are those romantic sparks or is it just "brotherly" protectiveness? When they return to the present, things go back to the way they were before: Casey parked on the bottom of the rung of the social ladder and Nate perched high on the very the top. Except this time her heart is broken. Plus, her best friend is mad, her parents are split up, and her younger brother gets escorted home by the police. The only thing that could make life worse is if, by some strange twist of fate, she took Nate back to the past again. Which of course, she does.

I really enjoyed reading Clockwise despite the fact that there were a few issues that stood out to me, and the reason i enjoyed reading the book so much is because Casey is one of the funniest narrators I have read in a long time. I often read books where the narrators doesn't read as a teenage girl but Casey was so realistic in her wit, humour and her sardonic self-view that it really made this book a pleasure to read.

This book is in no way groundbreaking or hard-hitting, it doesn't really have a climax and yes, it is completely fluffy with very little substance to it, so I wouldn't call it absolutely awesome. However as a quick, fun and clean read this book totally hits the spot. The story itself is pretty simple, the unpopular girl gets pulled into the past with the popular, cute jock and hijinks occur. I have to say that whilst Casey was a lovely character, none of the other characters really have much to them which I guess I can put down to the age range for this book, which I'd put as middle-grade to young YA. It did take me a while to get into the story since it seemed a little young for me,but when i did I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Since there is no real plot line aside from Casey and Nate being in the past and a few side plots like the creepy guy from 1960 with a crush on Casey and the story revolving around Samuel, who is a black person in a time of slavery, there are really no highly paced parts in this book. The pace is never slow though, it's a leisurely read which is good for just relaxing or winding down from a darker YA read. Actually, I should probably mention that in this seemingly fluffy story, there are darker historical events woven in such as the 1860s civil war and the racism and segregation of the 1960s, which are well written and fit into the story seamlessly, so you barely notice the seriousness of the issues.

Overall, Clockwise is a good book with a steady pace and an awesome, funny narrator. The book could have done with a more defined plot and some character development, but it was a pleasure to read and I'll be picking up the sequel for when I want something to chill to.

Overall Rating: B

Book released 21st November 2011 by ESP Publishing
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (NetGalley)

Review: Ink by Amanda Sun



Katie Greene is lost in the wake of her mum's death. Sent to Japan, she meets gorgeous but aloof artist Tomohiro, whose tough attitude intrigues and scares her. Then things get really strange. When they're near each other, Tomohiro's drawings start to come to life…

Soon the wrong people begin to ask questions, and Katie and Tomohiro must risk everything to protect the truth.


The thing that made me want to read Ink so much was the gorgeous cover and the Japan setting. This book sounded like something brand new and refreshing with an original and absorbing setting. My issue with this book - and it's not just this book but a lot of the YA that I'm reading lately - is that it just didn't do that much to separate itself from other books in the genre, meaning that it isn't all that memorable and by the time the sequel comes out I'll likely have forgotten what happened here.

Not that it was a bad book, not at all, I really did enjoy it. There were a number of things that annoyed me but there were an equal number of things that I enjoyed. I was a little confused by how the Kami abilities worked, but the whole idea was so original that I was in awe of how creative Amanda Sun was. Also the Japan setting worked so well, the little snippets of Japanese were so nice for me, since I speak some Japanese and I could understand it though I was a little confused over whether they were all speaking Japanese, since Katie seems a little too fluent or English since the Japanese characters all seemed to be fluent.

The romance was a little typical, it was sexy and quick developing and Tomohiro was the typical "Don't come near me, I'm too dangerous!" YA boy. He was a bit of a jerk and Katie was too trusting and seemed pretty stupid, putting herself in dangerous situations from him. I liked it though, and I usually don't enjoy Bella and Edward-esque romances since they seem unhealthy. Katie and Tomohiro's romance didn't seem unhealthy at all.

Overall, I did enjoy Ink but it won't stay with me for too long. The writing was good and the plot was original but the execution wasn't anything new. The romance was pretty typical as well but I did enjoy it. Will I read the sequel? More than likely, but there are books that I'll put above it on the 'must-read' list!

Overall Rating: B-

Book released 5th July 2013 by Mira Ink (UK)
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. (NetGalley)

Review: Sworn to Raise by Terah Edun

Sworn to Raise (Courtlight #1)

Seventeen-year-old Ciardis has grown up in poverty, a cleaner in a small vale on the outskirts of the kingdom. But beneath her kingdom’s seemingly idyllic surface lies a hidden secret. Whispers of an inept crown Prince are growing ever louder—intensified by the five year anniversary of the soulbond initiations.

Amidst scandalous whispers, Ciardis finds herself chosen to train for the Companion’s Guild. She leaves her home and sets off on a personal journey to become a Court Companion. A position she’d never thought possible for a lowly servant to obtain, she must prove that she has the skills to attract a Patron.

But she must master those skills quickly. If the legends are true, only Ciardis can harness the power to raise a Prince in an Imperial Court sworn to bring him down.

Look at the pretty cover... and... and... comparisons to Kristin Cashore and Maria Snyder? How on earth could I not request this book? I mean come on, this book had to be amazing, right? Right?!

No. This book suffers from high hopes syndrome, where the book itself is okay but it's compared to amazing authors that it could never stand up to and then the reader feels extremely let down, that's exactly how I felt with Sworn to Raise. The thing is, this book started off quite well, I was really intrigued by the whole companions idea, it's a kind of grown up concept because even though Edun never uses the exact words the whole thing is akin to prostitution. It's odd to say this but I was actually happy to see a more mature concept like that in this book and I wish the companion concept was explored a bit more and the training described in detail.

That was the problem with this book - the lack of detail and development. Ciardis is the only character that has any development at all, the side characters were completely flat and were given personalities with no back stories. Ciardis' sponsor, Serena is given this feud with another comapanion but there is no back story, there are bad girls and a handsome prince with no backstory and some random parts of the story which seemed completely unnecessary, like Ciardis learning to read. The plot starts out well, this could have been a really good book with the court intrigue that was being built up, but at around the fifty percent mark everything just turns into a massive mess...

We suddenly have this maze (like the one in Harry Potter's Triwizard Tournament, though why it's there I have no idea, since Ciardis get's through it really easily and it takes up a random few pages but has no effect on the plot at all. Then her and the prince go off somewhere and do some stuff and then the end comes really quickly and it all seemed so flat that despite reading it less than a week ago, I can't really remember what happened.

Overall, I think the only thing that kept me from giving up on Sworn To Raise was that it was a short book, so I finished it pretty quickly. Another 100 pages would have been good if they'd been used to develop the plot and characters. This could have been an okay book, but it fell extremely short of my expectations. I really would not recommend this to anyone. Sorry!

Overall Rating: E

Book released 10th April 2013 by 
Book received from the publisher (via Netgalley) in exchange for an honest review.

Waiting on Wednesday (26th June 2013)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I got my first year university results back and I've passed! I am soooo happy now!

Defy by Sara B. Larson
January 7th 2014 - Scholastic Press

Defy


Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?

High fantasy is my favorite genre, and this sounds like omething that could match up to Graceling, Throne of Glass and Poison Study, even down to the cover. Yes please, I wants NOW!



Alienated by Melissa Landers

February 4th 2014 - Disney Hyperion


Alienated (Alienated, #1)

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.
Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class. 

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

You had me at alien transfer students. This is such an awesome and original idea and I can't even wait... 2014 is so far away!

Review: Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2)
If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk's home life, they'd send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom's freedom and her own happiness. That's how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn't want her and going to a school that doesn't understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn't get her, but does....

Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can't tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn't be less interested in him.

But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won't let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all...

I picked up Dare You To because I loved Pushing The Limits so much, and I figured that Beth's story might be an okay read. I felt that I wouldn't love it, since there was no way that McGarry could make Beth and Ryan characters that I would love as much as Noah and Echo. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

I read this book in one sitting, I absolutely devoured it. McGarry is an awesome writer and manages to keep you gripped even at the slower parts of the book. I didn't think it was possible, but McGarry has actually improved her writing since Dare You To  and I can't wait to see how much further she improved in Crash into You. There is never a break in this book, it's either the swoonworthy, cute romance, the heartbreaking angst or the action and danger that has you gripping your seat in absolute terror and you won't realise how much you've been holding your breath near the end until you finish the book and let out a massive sigh of relief.

What I was really worried about is that Ryan and Beth just wouldn't match up to the awesome of Noah and Echo, or that their romance will be very samey. I was wrong on both counts - Ryan and Beth stand out as their own characters, I disliked Beth when I read about her in Pushing The Limits but in Dare You To I started to really feel for her, and Ryan starts out as a stereotypical jock, yet McGarry develops him to be much more than that. Sure there's the 'good' one (Ryan and Echo) and the bad one (Noah and Beth), but McGarry manages to make each character their own, and I am so looking forward to reading Isaiah's story in Crash Into You.

Overall, Dare You To was an amazing addition to a fantastic series. I honestly can't fault McGarry here as the writing, the characters and the pacing were all brilliant. Now I have to sit around until Crash Into You come out (thankfully that comes out in November!). Read It!

Overall Rating: A+

Book released 7th June 2013 by Mira Ink (UK)/ 28th May 2013 by Harlequin Teen (US) *Cover shown is UK cover)
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (NetGalley)

Reviews for other books by this author:

Review: In The After by Demitria Lunetta

 In the After

Amy is watching TV when it happens, when the world is attacked by Them. These vile creatures are rapidly devouring mankind. Most of the population is overtaken, but Amy manages to escape—and even rescue “Baby,” a toddler left behind in the chaos. Marooned in Amy’s house, the girls do everything they can to survive—and avoid Them at all costs.

After years of hiding, they are miraculously rescued and taken to New Hope, a colony of survivors living in a former government research compound. While at first the colony seems like a dream with plenty of food, safety, and shelter, New Hope slowly reveals that it is far from ideal. And Amy soon realizes that unless things change, she’ll lose Baby—and much more.

In The After would have been an awesome book for me a couple of years ago, before I had basically read every YA post-apocalyptic survival book out there, but reading it when I did meant that I honestly felt like I was reading the same regurgitated storyline that I've read a hundred times now which meant that for me this book was just okay, nowhere near great.

What mostly fell short for me is that this book depends mostly on the storyline - the characters and the writing didn't really stand out to me - and whilst the first half of this book was really enjoyable and tense, the second half became pretty samey and predictable. The difference was that the first half saw Amy and Baby surviving in the wild using street-smarts and survival skills and Amy was built up to be this tough character and in the second half it became the typical 'survivor safe-place with secrets' storyline which I am getting extreemly tired of. Sure, Lunetta takes it a different way and adds some twists in which will shock a lot of readers and actually a few of the twists did shock me, but the others I saw coming from a mile off.

The description of the aliens in this book was terrifying though, and Lunetta managed to create a world which stood out in survival fiction which is why I enjoyed the survival part of the book more. There are all the normal tropes from survival fiction but the creatures are freakier, there is science behind it, and there aren't really that many attacks from the creatures, so this book is more about building the suspense than actually throwing the action in.

I really enjoyed many of the characters in this book, I'd love for Rice to have got more focus in the book since he seems like he will be a key player in the future books. I will probably read the sequel, simply because the way that Lunetta leaves it suggests that the next book will go back to the survival fiction genre and that could be absolutely amazing.

Overall, In The After didn't live up to it's potential even though it started fantastically. This book could have been amazing but it fell short for me because it didn't really stand out in this extremely popular genre. I may still recommend it for fans of survival fiction because this series does have some awesome potential. I will be reading the sequel.

Overall Rating: C-

Book released 25th June 2013 by HarperTeen
Book received from the publisher (via Edelweiss) in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Dusk by Eve Edwards

Dusk

A love worth fighting for.

When Helen, a young hard-working nurse, meets aristocratic artist Sebastian, she doesn't expect to even like him, let alone fall in love. But against the troubled backdrop of wartime London, an unlikely but intense romance blossoms. And even the bloody trenches of the Somme, where they are both posted, cannot diminish their feelings for each other.

But Helen is concealing a secret and when a terrible crime is committed there are devastating consequences for them both.

When lives are being lost, can true love survive?

When I was younger I used to read a lot of war books. You may know the ones, often set in London with a young girl on the brink of adulthood living her life throughout the war. They may have been samey but I really enjoyed them as a young teenager. However, after a year so of devouring all of the ones my neighbour and Nan gave me, I found young adult books and I enjoyed them even more so the wartime books were totally forgotten. Then I got the email about this book and I asked for it even without knowing what it was about because it was by Eve Edwards who has written some of my favorite historical books ever and (under her pen name Julia Golding) some of my favorite fantasy books. Then I saw that it wa war... and YA and I was so unbelievably happy.

This book blew me away completely, it was everything that I hoped it would be and more. This is a book that is heartbreaking as much as romantic, a book that will tug at your heartstrings and make you think about it for long after you close the last page. A book about near misses between two people that live for eachother. Helen may not have been the most interesting character to follow, but she was true to life and her story was interesting, especially nearer the end. Seb had a for more gripping stiry for the most part, and the harrowing description of life in the trenches makes me wonder how Eve Edwards wrote it so descriptively and honestly. The amount of research that must have gone into making this book so authentic is amazing, I'm always astonished by the effort that historical authors go through.

The only fault I can find in this is that the non-linear time scale is a bit distracting and off-putting at times. I had to read back a couple of times to find out if I was in the past or present, this was a little bit annoying for me and I would liked the past to have been in a different font or something... still it wasn't a MASSIVE deal.


Overall, Dusk was a gripping story that seemed so realistic and authentic. My heart broke at many places and I was gripped by Helen and Seb from page one... and my mother totally agreed!

Overall Rating: A

Book released 6th June 2013 by Penguin
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Review: The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan


The Beautiful and the Cursed (The Dispossessed, #1)

Ingrid Waverley is a young woman to be reckoned with. Faced with her brother's mysterious disappearance after an abrupt move to Paris, she is determined to discover what has happened to him. Soon she and her sister Gabriella are drawn into a Parisian underworld more terrifying than they could ever have imagined, but watching over them are two impossible (and impossibly handsome) young men. Luc is a 'Dispossessed', an ancient gargoyle whose sworn duty it is to protect the humans who inhabit his abbey. Nolan has secrets of his own too. He is a member of the Alliance - a shadowy group dedicated to keeping Paris safe from the demonic forces that threaten to destroy it.

Secrets, danger and hidden powers stalk the girls in this beautifully imagined paranormal romance that will keep readers gripped from beginning to end - and one thing is for sure - you'll never look at a gargoyle in the same way again...

When I saw the description for this book I just knew that I had to read it - 1899, gargoyles, romance - this sounded absolutely amazing. It was pretty close to my expectations! Seriously, there aren't many paranormal romances that I love these days but The Beautiful and the Cursed definitely makes the list.

From the first page I was gripped by all of the mysteries. What had happened to Ingrid in London, and  what's happened to Grayson in Paris and what's the big mystery with all of the character? I have to admit that I'm always a little bit wary when there is a human/paranormal species romance, and especially was here because gargoyles aren't exactly seductive attractive creatures like... say vampires. I really didn't get squeamish by the romance between Luc and Ingrid though since it developed well and most of it is only when Luc was in his human form. I also really liked the Nolan/Gabby romance, that was fiery and romantic and Nolan was swoon-worthy, in some ways I preferred him to Luc who was kind of a typical YA hero.

The thing that made this book so awesome was Morgan's amazing writing which made the book that could have just been the typical YA paranormal romance something gripping and beautiful. Despite the dark tone of this book, Morgan's writing style was something absolutely beautiful and gripping. I absolutely loved it. The storyline is well thought out and the action is spread across so he pace is always good.

Overall, The Beautiful and the Cursed was a fantastic book, with two awesome love lines and a fantastically written story. I would totally recommend it to anyone.

Overall Rating: A-

Book released May 2nd 2013 by Hot Key Books
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Transcendence by C.J. Omolol

Transcendence

When a visit to the Tower of London triggers an overwhelmingly real vision of a beheading that occurred centuries before, Cole Ryan fears she is losing her mind. A mysterious boy, Griffon Hall, comes to her aid, but the intensity of their immediate connection seems to open the floodgate of memories even wider. As their feelings grow, Griffon reveals their common bond as members of the Akhet-an elite group of people who can remember past lives and use their collected wisdom for the good of the world. But not all Akhet are altruistic, and a rogue is after Cole to avenge their shared past. Now in extreme danger, Cole must piece together clues from many lifetimes. What she finds could ruin her chance at a future with Griffon, but risking his love may be the only way to save them both.

I've seen plenty around about Transcendence but never really looked into it enough to know whether I wanted to read it, which is why when it turned up in my post I wasn't all that excited to check it out. I'm kind of glad that I did anyway, it wasn't good enough to blow me away but it was good enough to keep me interested to read Intuition, the second book

I really enjoyed how original the idea of the Akhet, people that can remember their past lives, though I was a little confused by all of the flashes to Cole's past lives and which ones matched which. I guess it was done that way to put us in Cole's shoes and make us feel her confusion. I did feel that Cole believed Griffon way too quickly, but I guess if you're having recollections of things that happened centuries ago the Akhet explanation definitely makes sense, so i'll let that slide. 

One thing that did kind of put me off this book was the fact that even though Griffon is only seventeen or whatever, Griffon's essence is centuries old, he's mature and can remember hundreds f lives with kids and wives and being an old man... the whole romance with Cole seemed kind of creepy in the same way that I get creeped out at vampire romances and stuff like that... and Griffon is waaaaay older than Edward Cullen. I did like Cole and Griffon as a couple, it just took me a while to get past the whole almost a thousand year old guy thing.

Omololu's writing didn't really impress me as it was pretty average for YA books, that doesn't mean it was bad, it just means that the writing style was similar to most of the YA paranormal books out there so the voice isn't distinct or memorable, still it was easy to read and a well plotted out storyline with a good pace and flow, so  can't really fault her. 

Overall, Transcendence wasn't the most amazing book out there, but I enjoyed it enough to be eager to check out the sequel and I look forward to reading more about Cole's past lives. The romance was a bit icky at times, but the plot was original and it was developed well. I'd recommend it to people looking for a paranormal romance about something original.
Overall Rating: C+

Book released 6th June 2013 by Bloomsbury UK
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Waiting on Wednesday (19th June 2013)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

Tell me what you think! I may not reply back until later since I have a busy day today but please do comment with a link to your blog!


The Elites by Natasha Ngan
September 5th 2013 - Hot Key Books

The Elites

There is a rumour that the Elites don't bleed.'

Hundreds of years into the future, wars, riots, resource crises and rising sea-levels have destroyed the old civilisations. Only one city has survived: Neo-Babel, a city full of cultures - and racial tension. Fifteen-year-old Silver is an Elite, a citizen of Neo-Babel chosen to guard the city due to her superior DNA. She'd never dream of leaving - but then she fails to prevent the assassination of Neo Babel's president, setting off a chain of events more shocking and devastating than she could ever have imagined. Forced to flee the city with her best friend Butterfly (a boy with genetically-enhanced wings), Silver will have to fight to find her family, uncover the truth about Neo-Babel and come to terms with her complicated feelings for Butterfly.

A futuristic sci-fi pick where the main character is the genetically enhanced one, as opposed to books where the genetically enhanced are the antagonists. This sounds great!




Roses by G.R. Mannering

November 2013 - Sky Pony Press


Roses


She bears no name. Her silvery appearance is freakish to the numerous inhabitants of Sago, the cosmopolitan capital of Pevorocco in a fantasy realm. With her mother vanishing at the instance of her birth, she is regrettably sent to live with the nouveau riche Ma Dane, where she is punished daily for something, though she knows not what. Tauntingly named Beauty, she flees Sago in an violent uprising that sets out to massacre all Magics and journeys to the furthest point of the country.

But Beauty cannot hide in the grassy Hillands forever. Before long, the State officials find her and threaten to take her back to war-torn Sago where death surely awaits. In a midnight blizzard she escapes them, running into a deep, enchanted forest to a great and terrible beast who will bargain for her life.

But can Beauty accept Beast? Eternity is a long time.

I am a massive sucker for fairytale retellings and Beauty and the Beast has so many awesome ones, its so fun to read new retellings of well covered stories and this ne sounds fresh and original! 

Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee


Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days, #1)
It's been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels' stronghold in San Francisco where she'll risk everything to rescue her sister and he'll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Despite being told multiple times that Angelfall is the best angel book evah. I struggled to believe it, maybe this is because it's self-published and despite having read plenty of awesome self-published books I still tend to think of them as generally not as good as published books. I know, I suck and I'm not going to lie when I say that I really wish I'd read Angelfall earlier. I agree; it is definitely one of the best angel books I have ever read... probably even in the top ten or so books I have ever read period.

Yep... this book is a million kinds of awesome. Plus some.

The angels in this book aren't the bright, chaste, radiant creatures that you see depicted in the annual nativity play, nor are they the dark, twisted, emo bad boys that are so common in YA fiction. In this book, the angels are vengeful and merciless and absolutely amazing. As well as this, this book is semi-biblical but at the same time not overly religious - it was a welcome departure from the typical post-apocalyptic book and the paranormal aspects were fantastically developed as well. The more realistic aspect of the book is Penryn's mother's mental illness which was slipped in there and played a large part in the development of Penryn's character and making people care for the two sisters.

Each of the relationships in this book is fantastically written. the most obvious relationship is the one between Raffe and Penryn which starts off as two allies on a journey together but predictably evolves into something much closer. The relationship is developed so gradually that whilst it's obvious, it never seems instalove-ish or overly deep. The other relationships are also so well written, the relationship between Paige and Penryn is amazing to see, even though Paige is barely in the book in person my heart ached for her at the end.

Never once in this book did I feel able to put it down and when I had to I did it with total reluctance and I was counting the minutes until I could pick it up again. The plot developed flawlessly and the pacing never dropped below gripping. Twists came so often but the biggest twist at the end had me absolutely reeling.

I just... I really can find absolutely no fault in this book. Angelfall is the closest to perfection I have read in a long time.

Overall Rating: A+

Book released 23rd May 2013 by Hodder and Stoughton (UK)
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review 

If you enjoyed Angelfall and are looking for similar books that I enjoyed, I would recommend checking out Bound by Sarah Bryant.

Review: Gloss by Marilyn Kaye

Gloss

New York, 1963.
Fashion, music and attitudes are changing, and there's nowhere in in the world more exciting. Sherry, Donna, Allison and Pamela have each landed a dream internship at Gloss; America's number-one fashion magazine.

Each girl is trying to make her mark on New York and each finds herself thrown head-first into the buzzing world of celebrity, high-end fashion and gossip. But everything isn't as glamorous as it seems - secrets from the past threaten to shatter their dreams.

They're finding out that romance in New York is as unpredictable and thrilling as the city itself.

Gloss was such a fun book to read. Even though it came through randomly (or at least I can't remember requesting it) I jumped into it pretty quickly and I really enjoyed it. It's deceivingly thick (only 300 pages but the font was larger than most books and pictures and larger quotes take up some of the space) so this book was definitely the perfect 'fast' read.

The book was set in the early 1960s and I loved all the things that make it so authentic, like the fashions and the typewriters and Sherry's traditional southern upbringing. This is the age where women are getting freedom, but still relied on men and it's the story of four girls trying to find what they think that they want, and how their views on life change. It was amazing to read about life in the 60s, and also amazing to read it from all of these different girls that come from different worlds and have different ideals.

Some of the characters get more focus than others, and some are more likable than others, but each of them get enough focus that you start to root for them and feel for them. Donna's story only comes out near the end but straight away I was on her side whereas we know Sherry and Allison's background pretty quickly. There is no happy love story in this book, but each of the girls has their own chance at one and eventually realises that they have more opportunities in their life than they thought. It was a really inspirational book but it doesn't go too deep or dark anywhere, which I really appreciated.

Overall, Gloss was a really fun and meaningful read, perfect for passing a couple of hours in the bath. It's not the most memorable or amazingly written book, but the 1960s setting was authentic and the stories were real.

Overall Rating: B

Book released 6th June 2013 by Panmacmillan Children's
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Review: Wake by Amanda Hocking

Wake (Watersong, #1)

Gorgeous. Fearless. Dangerous. They're the kind of girls you envy; the kind of girls you want to hate. Strangers in town for the summer, Penn, Lexi and Thea have caught everyone's attention—but it’s Gemma who’s attracted theirs. She’s the one they’ve chosen to be part of their group.

Gemma seems to have it all—she’s carefree, pretty, and falling in love with Alex, the boy next door. He’s always been just a friend, but this summer they’ve taken their relationship to the next level, and now there’s no going back. Then one night, Gemma’s ordinary life changes forever. She’s taking a late night swim under the stars when she finds Penn, Lexi and Thea partying on the cove. They invite her to join them, and the next morning she wakes up on the beach feeling groggy and sick, knowing something is different.

Suddenly Gemma is stronger, faster, and more beautiful than ever. But her new powers come with a terrifying price. And as she uncovers the truth, she’s is forced to choose between staying with those she loves—or entering a new world brimming with dark hungers and unimaginable secrets.

Despite kind of enjoying Switched a year or so back, I haven't ever really felt the urge to pick up any of hocking's books. They all seem really cool and the hype is awesome, but none of them really strike me as gripping or original so I've kind of stayed away from them. However, I was offered Wake and Lullaby for review from the UK publishers and I though 'well, why not give it a try?'.

I may just start buying into the Amanda Hocking hype now. Okay, so Wake wasn't ground-breakingly original and I didn't totally love it. I did really enjoy it though, and there were definitely parts where I just couldn't put it down. My favorite parts of this book were the parts with Harper in, despite the fact that she's so straight-laced and I really didn't like her to start with she really grew on me, and her interactions with boat man Daniel, who is like her polar opposite, really grabbed me. I didn't really find that much chemistry between Gemma and Alex, who are meant to be the 'main' couple, because neither character seemed fleshed out. Gemma is the risk-taker and a little more stupid than Harper but that's most of the personality we see from her, and Alex just seemed to be there as a prop - a reason for Gemma to feel tied to her home and not want to live with the sirens.

The atmosphere in this book is what really gripped me. Small, touristy island with creepy killings happening is creepy enough, but Penn, Thea and Lexi take the creepiness up a new level - they were terrifying, like a mixture between the unapproachable, popular girls at school and the creepy monsters that I guess they kind of are. I didn't think there was anything outstanding about Hocking's writing, but the pace was always fast and the action scenes at the end were especially gripping.

This book would be recieving a much higher rating if I'd like Gemma and Alex a lot more, but I am going to read the rest of this series because I am gripped by the story and I want more of Harper and Daniel. If Lullaby is even a little bit better than Wake, Amanda Hocking will have a new fan.


Overall Rating: B-

Book released September 2012 by PanMacmillan (UK)
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Reviews for other books by this author:

Review: Stung by Bethany Wiggins

Stung

In a world in crisis, children are the future. Part of the cure. Not now. Children are deadly. Marked one to ten. Fiona is a TEN. She just doesn't know it yet . . . She doesn't know her true strength.

Fiona doesn't remember going to sleep. But she has woken to find her entire world has changed - her house is abandoned and broken, and her neighbourhood is barren and dead. Even stranger is the tattoo on her right wrist that she doesn't remember getting but somehow knows she must cover at any cost. And she's right. When the honeybee population collapsed, a worldwide pandemic occurred and the government tried to bio-engineer a cure. But instead the vaccination turned people into ferocious, deadly beasts. They have been branded as a warning to unvaccinated survivors. Key people needed to rebuild society are protected inside a fortress-like wall. Fiona has awakened branded, alone and on the wrong side of the wall . . .

This book made me so angry, because there was so many ways it could have been absolutely awesome but to me, this book kind of just fell down a hole of... suck. Maybe it isn't fair to start a review so negatively, but it is so rare that I come across a book that annoyed me as much as Stung. I absolutely hate writing ranty negative reviews, so I'm going to expand on the good and bad of this book, because I'm a critic and I won't blindly ignore that there were some good points to this book, but that the bad seriously outweighed them.

Let me start with the good, possibly the only reason that I read this book to finish: Dryden Bowen. He was my hero... okay so he definitely had his idiotic moments, in fact he had quite a few of them, but as a character his mature and protective side definitely was a good match for Fiona (I'll get to her in a moment). I liked that to start with Bowen is all set to give her the lab, it doesn't start out really positive for the two and I liked this. This book also had some moments of great pacing and the mystery between who Fiona is was also gripping, I wanted to know how things were going to pan out because Wiggins does a good job of building up the mystery.

However, the main character Fiona had me all set to throw my book on the barbeque and use it to cook sausages whilst pretending they were Fiona's fingers. Sorry, that may be a little extreme, but if Wiggins was tying to make a likable character in Fiona she did a sucky job of it, I wanted to punch her so much. Fiona, I get that you've just woken up in a strange world which requires survival skills which you clearly don't have, but how stupid do you have to be to change into a flowy sundress when you may need to blend in and run at a moments notice... and why not hide when someone is coming who may kill you lest you accidentally shoot the love of your life... who you've known for a few days. Okay so they knew eachother before the disease broke out, but he's a new person and you still have the maturity of a thirteen year old, it doesn't just take a few days for true love to happen. Though, to be fair, I guess two days in YA fiction is equivalent to two months in real life.

Overall, Stung seriously dissapointed me, even though I was so excited to read it. I'm sorry Bethany Wiggins, your writing was great but this book didn't quite do it for me... at all.

Overall Rating: D-

Book released 4th July 2013 by Bloomsbury Childrens (UK)
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review 

Review: Golden by Jessi Kirby

Golden
Seventeen-year-old Parker Frost has never taken the road less traveled. Valedictorian and quintessential good girl, she's about to graduate high school without ever having kissed her crush or broken the rules. So when fate drops a clue in her lap--one that might be the key to unraveling a town mystery--she decides to take a chance.

Julianna Farnetti and Shane Cruz are remembered as the golden couple of Summit Lakes High--perfect in every way, meant to be together forever. But Julianna's journal tells a different story--one of doubts about Shane and a forbidden romance with an older, artistic guy. These are the secrets that were swept away with her the night that Shane's jeep plunged into an icy river, leaving behind a grieving town and no bodies to bury.

Reading Julianna's journal gives Parker the courage to start to really live--and it also gives her reasons to question what really happened the night of the accident. Armed with clues from the past, Parker enlists the help of her best friend, Kat, and Trevor, her longtime crush, to track down some leads. The mystery ends up taking Parker places that she never could have imagined. And she soon finds that taking the road less traveled makes all the difference.

This was a total impulse request for me, since I hadn't actually been all that interested in it to start with. I have to be in a certain mood to read contemporary books and so Golden has sat unread on my kindle for a few months. When I finally did pick it up, it wasn't the type of book that gripped me to start with and for a few chapters I had to wonder whether it would pick up. I realised that I was gripped about fifty pages in and I hadn't even realised, that is the type of book that Golden is, the type of book which will creep up on you and then suddenly you're gripped and taking the book down to dinner, to the toilet and to the kitchen with you and despite the fact that you have an important exam in two days you stay up until one in the morning to finish the book, savouring every word as you do.

At least, that's my reading experience of Golden. Now I'm not saying that this book is without it's flaws - it seriously isn't - but what I am saying is that everything that this story stands for, everything that means is so well written and beautiful and meaningful that I was willing to overlook it. This book isn't a cushy emotional love story, well not a love story for Parker. Parker does have a love line in this book but it takes a subtle backseat to the more meaningful story - Julianna, Shane and Orion's story. The two stories are interwoven so well that even though we don't really know Julianna, we feel like we do. I loved how Julianna's story from ten years ago makes Parker come to terms with the issues in her own life. this book didn't feel fluffy or pretentious, it felt real.

There were some plotholes, of course. Some I won't mention since they give spoilers, but I honestly don't think that Parker would be stupid enough to go on a road trip and not tell her Mom and not expect the police to be called on her, especially in a town still reeling from the disappearance of two teens ten years ago. As well as that a lot of the explanations given for actions and mysteries seem very basic and I honestly don' believe that ANYONE could believe any of it.

 Golden was a great read, though it took some time to get into. Depsite a few plotholes and some cheesy bits, the story was deep and meaningful and will definitely stand out in a crowd of fluffy or pretentious contemporary books.

Overall Rating: A

Book released 14th May 2013 by Simon and Schuster Boks for Young Readers
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (Edelweiss)

Review: Follow the White Rabbit by Kellie Sheridan

Follow the White Rabbit (Beautiful Madness, #1)

For centuries, Wonderland thrived as the domain of beautiful bedlam and unapologetic madness. It was a place like no other. All it took was one girl slipping in through the cracks of the universe to start chaos spiraling toward order. In the 150 years since Alice’s visit, the realm has become tainted—almost normal. Rabbits in waistcoats and playing card minions are little more than creatures of myth, and Wonderland is literally falling to pieces.

For Gwen, Rose, and Lucky, Wonderland is home, and yet they know little of its former glory. When the Alice prophecy resurfaces, they’ll have one chance to use Wonderland’s own legends to bring a little mayhem back into their reality. For she who controls Alice controls the fate of Wonderland.

Firstly let me put a statement out there - I WILL be reading the next book in this series, and I am very excited for it, despite the fact that Follow the White Rabbit is not going to get that high a rating from me. Why is this you may ask me, the answer is basic; this book is way too short but I still see some serious potential for something awesome. This novella is less than one hundred pages long and spends about 75% of that setting up the world and introducing readers to the characters and who they are and what they mean for Wonderland, and that's fantastic because what is is setting up is something fantastic and new for Alice in Wonderland retellings.

The problem is that as soon as everything is set straight and isn't confusing anymore and the actual story starts to kick in the novella ends and I felt cheated and unfulfillled, like I'd just wasted an hour reading a set-up that I will probably have to reread before I read the next novella (which will hopefully have some serious action and storyline and happening).

I'm not going to lie, I really did enjoy the set up, but without any action or storyline I can really only say that this story has some potential, it's looking like it could be awesome. I just wouldn' recommend you read it yet, wait until novella #2 comes out.

Overall Rating: C

Book released 21st May 2013 by Patchwork Press
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review (NetGalley)