Review: In Place of Never by Julie Anne Lindsey

In Place of Never

Can the truth set her free?…

A part of Mercy died the summer her sister tragically drowned. Now Mercy has a chance to discover if Faith’s death was an accident—or murder. Her first step is to confront the lead suspects: a band of traveling gypsies—the last people who saw her sister alive. But Mercy finds an unexpected ally in Cross, the soulful musician in their ranks. He’s a kindred spirit, someone who sees into her heart for the first time in, well, forever. Yet stirring up the past puts Mercy in danger…

Suddenly someone is shadowing Mercy’s every move, making her even more determined to uncover the facts. With Cross by her side, she is ready to face it all, even if that means opening up to him, knowing he may one day leave her. What she discovers is a truth that rocks the foundation of her small river town—and a love worth risking everything for…

In Place of Never was such an exciting read, with so many different things going on in it that sometimes it felt a little overwhelming. I loved the crime/mystery aspect and the way that it branched out and was resolved and all of the suspects had their motives, It was a really well-written, well-established mystery-thriller and I enjoyed it much more than I expected.

I did feel like Mercy rushed into things. Getting involved with Cross, who clearly was part of the group of people that her own father is responsible for her sister's death. Sure, Cross wasn't even part of the troupe in the time of Faith's death but still! I mean, of course everything turned out well but why did she feel this urge to find answers two years later - chasing up people who might hhave put it all behind them. Is that fair?

I also felt like Julie Anne Lindsey was trying to hard to put loads of different things into this book. The preacher dad, the circus troupe, the gypsy mysteries, the drowning, the stalker - it all seemed a little bit too much at times and things didn't tie together as well as they might have if all the stuff had been cut down.

Overall, this was a really exciting thriller book with a lot of things in it. I did enjoy it, but there were some things that felt forced and weren't resolved...

Book released 2nd February 2016 by Lyrical Press
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: Life at the Speed of Us by Heather Sappenfield

Life at the Speed of Us

Silence is safe. Fate is not.

When Sovern Briggs survives a car crash, she stops talking to seal in the memory of the final sounds from her mother’s life. As conflict with her father builds and failure in school looms, Sovern seeks relief in a dangerous boyfriend and in speed’s adrenaline edge. These needs collide, leading Sovern to a snowboarding accident that changes her future and perhaps that of our universe.

Life at the Speed of Us weaves dyslexia, math, cutting-edge science, genius, and love into a young woman’s reluctant journey toward grace.

Maybe I missed the point altogether, or maybe I just didn't read far enough to get to it.

My personal opinion is that if I can get a third through a book and not really get into it, I will allow myself to give up and post a DNF review, I know a lot of reviewers get squeamish about DNF reviews, but I do not. If I have given the book a fair trial and still find it guilty of not entertaining me, I see no harm in saying so.

Life at the Speed of Us was one of those books - I think I knew it was a DNF from 10% but I kept pushing and when I got to 35% and nothing was making sense and I had no idea of where this was going and didn't even like the characters, I gave up.

I felt that Sovern was a very boring main character and her internal monologue was honestly so annoying. The setting of the ski slopes was nice, but that isn't enough to make me want to read a book.

As I say with all DNF reviews though -so many people liked this book! Just go onto Goodreads and you will see all the 4/5 star reviews - they aren't wrong, neither am I - if this sounds like your thing give it a go, then tell me how you felt about it!

Overall Rating: DNF

Book released 8th January 2016 by Flux
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1)

The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson–wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.

Then a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they’re being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other.

Okay, let me admit something. I did not buy into the hype for this novel. A lot - a lot - of people have been raving about this but I've never really been into the whole Sherlock Holmes thing so I never thought I would request it. Then I saw a review saying it is a brilliant book even if you aren't a Sherlock fan and I thought I'd give it a go. 

I enjoyed this book infitisimal amounts more than I ever imagined I would. A Study in Charotte is tense, witty, tough and subtle in all the right ways. I thought Jamie was such a brilliant character to read about - his point of view made this book all the more enjoyable. He isn't a super tough main character though, at times he is wimpy. Like in the real Sherlock Holmes books, he comes in and saves the day numerous times and he is the common sense in the whole plan. The real main character in this book is Charlotte Holmes though - drug taking, chain smoking Charlotte Holmes who was nothing like I imagines. She is tough, but closed off. She had things happen to her before she came to Sherrington that makes her a bit damaged and I loved it. The whole relationship between her and Jamie was lovely but it was also so subtle that it doesn't take over the main mystery aspect of the whole book.

The mystery was so brilliant as well. So well executed and I was guessing the whole way through - who was the Sherrington murderer and why are they trying to frame Charlotte for it. The ending seemed so well thought through - the motive was there and I hadn't guessed the culprit but it also didn't seem forced - the signs were there through the whole book.

If I had but one gripe with this book it's that Charlotte's addiction to drugs was dealt with so badly - or more, it wasn't dealt with at all. It seems like such a big plot point that went completely ignored and I felt like this could have added a bit more depth into this book. It's the only thing that was slightly lacking.

Overall, A Study in Charlotte was a brilliant take on the Sherlock universe, where Sherlock and Holmes were real and so are their ancestors. You don't need to know that much about them though, because Charlotte and Jamie's story speaks for itself, and it does so with an amazing voice. Wow.

Book released 1st March 2016 by Katherine Tegan Books
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers

Assassin's Heart (Assassin's Heart, #1)

In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.

Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.

With a gorgeous cover, a brilliant premise and a fantastic setting, Assassin's Heart could have been so much. It was, in fact, a good book, but I would not say it was as great as it could have been.

This book is like Romeo and Juliet mixed with Throne of Glass, without the power of either book. There is murder, intrigue, romance and action but in the way that I never felt fully absorbed into Lea's story. The thing is, I felt like Lea was one main problem in this book - Ahiers works so hard to make her a powerful, tough main character - she kills guiltlessly, feeling that it is her calling and that she is doing it for the good of her people and her religion - because of this, I think she became a bit of a flat character. When her Family is killed Ahiers tells us that Lea is angry, but I never really felt that fury, or saw the desolation. 

For this reason, it felt forced when we were made to think that Lea had feelings. When she meets Les and begins to develop feelings for him, it felt more like a plot device than a natural development. With Val, it seems okay because her feelings for him stem from desire and the need to feel loved more than anything else. Les is supposed to be real love - that was the difference.

I did love the fantasy elements in this book though. The lore is gorgeous and the ghosts are terrifying. I did feel that the event that happened at 70% was a cheap cop out though - using that religion as a deus ex machina to keep the story going in dire straits was a bit of an anti-climax and from there the rest of the book was a bit rushed... like Ahiers couldn't see the way out and just decided to end it, hence the rushed scenes at the Da Via's manor.

Overall, Assassin's Heart was a rich book with great fantasy, but the pace was very slow at times and the ending and the main character fell a bit flat for me...

Book released 2nd February 2016 by HarperTeen
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: Underneath Everything by Marcy Beller Paul

Underneath Everything

Mattie shouldn’t be at the bonfire. She should be finding new maps for her collection, hanging out with Kris, and steering clear of almost everyone else, especially Jolene. After all, Mattie and Kris dropped off the social scene the summer after sophomore year for a reason.

But now Mattie is a senior, and she’s sick of missing things. So here she is.

And there’s Jolene: Beautiful. Captivating. Just like the stories she wove. Mattie would know; she used to star in them. She and Jolene were best friends. Mattie has the scar on her palm to prove it, and Jolene has everything else, including Hudson.

But when Mattie runs into Hudson and gets a glimpse of what could have been, she decides to take it all back: the boyfriend, the friends, the life she was supposed to live. Problem is, Mattie can’t figure out where Jolene ends and she begins.

Because there’s something Mattie hasn’t told anyone—she walked away from Jolene over a year ago, but she never really left.

Usually, books which feed the past slowly, allowing the reader to become absorbed in finding out what happened prior to the book are very well received by me. Underneath Everything did just that, but I never felt like I got any answers in this book, making it quite a slow read for me and one that simply didn't impress me at any point.

Maybe I missed the point - I didn't really see a point - because this book is supposed to be poignant and meaningful but I tell absolutely no lie when I say that for me it was... not. There were some scenes which made me feel something, but for the most part Underneath Everything did nothing to me. It's like we were just told we were meant to care but not giving anything to take it past a shallow point - we weren't shown why.

If I have one thing to praise this book for it's Beller Paul's writing. It was abstract and bleak most of the time but I did enjoy reading it. I don't think it fit quite with this type of novel - there is definitely work to be done in the storytelling area as well - but i can see myself really enjoying books by this author. Just not Underneath Everything. 

Book released 27th October 2015 by Balzer+Bray
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie

Burning Glass (Burning Glass, #1)

Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around her feel—both physically and emotionally—a gift she’s kept hidden from the empire for seventeen long years. After a reckless mistake wipes out all the other girls with similar abilities, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer.

Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. One mistake, one small failure, will cost her own life and the lives of the few people left in the world who still trust her.

But Sonya’s power is untamed and reckless, her feelings easily usurped, and she sometimes can’t decipher when other people’s impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be herself.

As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks refuge in her tenuous alliances with the volatile Emperor Valko and his idealistic younger brother, Anton, the crown prince. But when threats of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which brother to trust—and which to betray.

What a gorgeous, amazing read.

Burning Glass took a while to reel me in - from the start I wasn't even sure I would finish it - but when it did, after the first few chapters boy was I hooked. Burning Glass is waaaaay too long to be this good - I couldn't put it down and consequently I couldn't make food, I couldn't get ready for work (I was late and I debated pulling a sickie to finish this book). It was just... wow. Amazing.

Sonya, Anton, Valko, Pia... what amazing characters Purdie has written. She has created a dark and dangerous love triangle, a character with as many damning qualities as redeeming qualities and best of all, she made me like a character before killing them off! That, Purdie, is genius. I actually came to care about the character and as a result I totally believed in Sonya's rampage for revenge - thank you!!!

The writing and world building is so rich and fascinating and well done. I love how Purdie let us learn slowly the powers of the auraseer, as opposed to dumping it all on us so it felt forced. 

I just... can't even find words.

Yes, Burning Glass has potential to be more, Sonya has all the potential to become a badass like Celaena or Katsa, but I think that if this is Purdie at her debut, I cannot wait to see what she comes out with in a year's time.

Book released 1st March by KatherineTegen
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: Behold the Bones by Natalie C. Parker

Behold the Bones (Beware the Wild, #2)
Candace “Candy” Pickens has been obsessed with the swamp lore of her tiny Louisiana town for . . . forever. Name any ghostly swamp figure and Candy will recite the entire tale in a way that will curl your toes and send chills up your spine.

That doesn’t mean Candy’s a believer, however. Even though she and her friends entered the swamp at the start of summer and left it changed, Candy’s the only one who can’t see or feel the magical swamp Shine. She’s also the only one who can’t see the ghosts that have been showing up and spooking everyone in town ever since. So Candy concentrates on other things—real things. Like fighting with her mother and plotting her escape from her crazy town.

But ghosts aren’t the only newcomers in Sticks, Louisiana. The King family arrives like a hurricane: in a blur and unwanted—at least by Candy. Mr. King is intent on filming the rumored ghostly activity for his hit TV show, Local Haunts. And while Candy can’t ignore how attracted she is to eighteen-year-old Gage King and how much his sister, Nova, wants to be friends, she’s still suspicious of the King family.

As Candy tries to figure out why the Kings are really in town and why the swamp that had previously cast her aside now seems to be invading every crack in her logical, cynical mind, she stumbles across the one piece of swamp lore she didn’t know. It’s a tale that’s more truth than myth, and may have all the answers . . . and its roots are in Candy’s own family tree.

I never read Beware The Wild and I wasn't aware that Behold the Bones was a sequel to it. I still enjoyed it, but sort of wish I had read Beware the Wild first as it sounds brilliant now I basically know the whole storyline. 

Behold the Bones is a really special book in that it didn't feel like I was reading a YA book - I felt like I was reading something super special and different. Maybe it's the setting - this rich, atmospheric southern swamp setting with it's peculiar characters and lore really made this book stand out. Maybe it was the romance, because it doesn't go a typical direction and despite the fact that we don't get to know the guy Candace ends up with that well, I still loved the way it went.

Candace was such a fantastic character - she's sarcastic and tough and a bit of a cow sometimes, but her voice was such a delight to read. I loved her friends, Sterling and Abigail, and I loved her cousins. I even really liked getting to know Nova and Gage and their father, and all of Candace's family. Parker has a brilliant way of making every single character stand out.

This book was tense and creepy, but not quite as spooky as I had been hoping when I picked it up. The climax was fast paced and I loved getting absorbed in the mystery behind Candace and her family, but at times the pace did slow quite substantially and I found myself losing interest a little.

Overall, Behold the Bones was such an engaging, well written book and I only wish I had read Beware the Wild earlier. Despite some pacing issues, I really enjoyed this book!

Book released 23rd February by HarperTeen
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius

Anne & Henry

Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved.

Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life.

Wild, brash, and outspoken, Anne is everything Henry isn’t allowed to be—or want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, but his desire for Anne consumes him.

Henry is willing to do anything to be with her, but once they’re together, will their romance destroy them both?

I wasn't aware of this until a short while ago, but in the announcement of this book's signing, the author described Anne as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Authors, please listen to me. Never use stock character descriptions to describe your characters - we want to think that we are going to be reading original characters, not some trope rewritten. Anne is no Zooey Deschanel or Ramona, she's Anne and had I  read that announcement it would have turned me off this book right away. Seriously, imagine if all of the publicity about Twilight described Bella as a special snowflake Mary-Sue!

But thankfully I read this book before I learned about that and so I didn't have preconceived opinions of Anne - she was, in hindsight, a sort of manic pixie dream girl type, coming in and turning Henry's life around. Opening him up to new types of people and allowing him the chance to change his views on the world. Henry was a weak character, fickle and overly attentive of the gossip people threw around. This actually made him the perfect modern day representation of horny, fickle King Henry VIII.

I honestly can't see how Ius could have rewritten one of history's most tragic love stories any better. Every little thing related back to Queen Anne and King Henry's real life relationship and even the ending, whilst less fatal was done perfectly. As much as I wished that the ending could be happy, there clearly was no way for this to be... I think Ius dealt with it all in the best way possible - the injustice, the feelings, the judgement. It was so well done.

I would be so excited to read anything else by Dawn Ius, especially if it was in the same vein of Anne & Henry.. It didn't blow me away, but it did entertain me thoroughly.

Book released 1st September by Simon Pulse
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: The Word for Yes by Claire Needell

The Word for Yes

After their parents’ divorce, Jan, Erika, and Melanie have to get used to the new world order: a father who’s moved to another continent and a mother who throws herself into moving on. Jan, off at her first semester of college, has plenty to worry about, including an outspoken roommate who’s kind of “out there” and an increasingly depressed and troubled long-distance boyfriend. Her younger sisters, left at home in New York City, and dealing with all the pressures of life in high school, aren’t exactly close. Erika is serious and feels awkward and uncomfortable in crowds, though her beauty tends to attract attention. Melanie is socially savvy and just wants to go out—to concerts, to parties, wherever—with her friends. The gap between all three girls widens as each day passes.

Then, at a party full of blurred lines and blurred memories, everything changes. Starting that night, where there should be words, there is only angry, scared silence.

And in the aftermath, Jan, Erika, and Melanie will have to work hard to reconnect and help one another heal.

This was a skimmy book, and even then I didn't finish it...

There seems to be a massive explosion of books focusing sexual abuse/rape/the blurred lines around it all. Whether that's because people have realised it's SUCH AN IMPORTANT ISSUE, or whether authors are just trying to tackle something new, or whether it's just about the fact that many of us YA reader/reviewers can't read enough of them, I don't know. There are good ways of doing it (All The Rage, What We Saw) and less effective ways (Every Last Promise)... then there are some books which completely miss the point (The Word for Yes).

Now, there are many reviewers that enjoyed this a heck lot more than me, and I definitely think they have valid points, but for me this book just didn't put enough development and emotion into the situation: Melanie came across as somebody using what had happened to her as a reason to become this voice, but actually there were blurred lines in the whole thing and I don't think that was focused on enough for me to believe any of it.

I felt that the characters all blurred into one to the point where I couldn't care less what happened in any of their lives, and Melanie was straight up a b*tch, so I just didn't connect with her enough to really be on her side, even in such a difficult time.

As I said though, many reviewers didn't feel this way. I would recommend that you go and read the positive reviews before you make a decision on this book. Goodreads is always a good place to start.

Overall Rating: DNF

Book released 16th February 2015 by HarperTeen
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: Bluescreen by Dan Wells

Bluescreen (Mirador, #1)
Los Angeles in 2050 is a city of open doors, as long as you have the right connections. That connection is a djinni—a smart device implanted right in a person’s head. In a world where virtually everyone is online twenty-four hours a day, this connection is like oxygen—and a world like that presents plenty of opportunities for someone who knows how to manipulate it.

Marisa Carneseca is one of those people. She might spend her days in Mirador, the small, vibrant LA neighborhood where her family owns a restaurant, but she lives on the net—going to school, playing games, hanging out, or doing things of more questionable legality with her friends Sahara and Anja. And it’s Anja who first gets her hands on Bluescreen—a virtual drug that plugs right into a person’s djinni and delivers a massive, non-chemical, completely safe high. But in this city, when something sounds too good to be true, it usually is, and Mari and her friends soon find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy that is much bigger than they ever suspected.

Look! A hispanic main character, and double look - the girl on the cover actually looks hispanic and has a mechanical arm. It's almost a dream come true!

I think I am one of the few people who was let down by Partials - I read Partials and pushed myself into Fragments and that was so sluggish that I gave up on the series. When I requested Bluescreen I don't think I realise who the author was otherwise I may well have just not requested it at all. Thankfully, I did. I say thankfully because I really, really enjoyed Bluescreen. I was gripped from the start because of the gaming concept and despite the fact that there is quite a lot of build up before the Bluescreen 'drug' is introduced, I was really enjoying this world that Wells had created. I think part of my issue with Partials was how overly-detailed everything was and it was the same in this book except it added to this book, not detracted. I was absorbed into every aspect of Mari's world and I really enjoyed it.

Pace wise, I can't claim that this book is all go go go. There were some parts which dropped in pace and I had to push on because I knew it was going to get good, I think this book may have been a little longer than was necessary. For the most part though Bluescreen was fast paced, enjoyable and gripping. I actually found the action in the ending really gripping, but I think my favorite part is through the middle, when Mari is investigating the drug.

There are some... suggestions of romance. It isn't a big deal though. The guy who seemed a potential love interest (Saif) is a dealer of Bluescreen who joins Mari on her investigation but spoilery things happen that really throw a curveball in the works and nip that in the bud. Mari herself was a strong character though - she didn't need any man, besides - she has the Cherry Dogs, her gaming party who were like, such a brilliant supporting cast.

Overall, Bluescreen was an enjoyable book. My interest did decrease in parts but for the most part it was engaging and suspenseful and packed with action. I loved the world in this book. 

Book released 16th February 2016 by Balzer + Bray
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Review: The Unquiet by Mikaela Everett

The Unquiet

For most of her life, Lirael has been training to kill—and replace—a duplicate version of herself on a parallel Earth. She is the perfect sleeper-soldier. But she’s beginning to suspect she is not a good person.

The two Earths are identical in almost every way. Two copies of every city, every building, even every person. But the people from the second Earth know something their duplicates do not—two versions of the same thing cannot exist. They—and their whole planet—are slowly disappearing. Lira has been trained mercilessly since childhood to learn everything she can about her duplicate, to be a ruthless sleeper-assassin who kills that other Lirael and steps seamlessly into her life.

The Unquiet is one of those books that can go two ways. It can either be loved, which a lot of people seem to have done, or it can fall into the category of 'meh' which it did for me.

In fact, this is a DNF review. It was too meh for me to get into.

After spending around a month trying to pick this book up and get into it, I gave up and DNF'ed this book at 40%. This is partly to do with the distinct lack of world building but also probably something to do with the fact that this book had a very floaty, lyrical narrative that some people will probably say was gorgeous prose but for me just seemed disconnected and boring.

Trust me. I wanted to like this book. I wanted to love it and I know a lot of people have loved this book. Just because I didn't doesn't mean that you won't.

However, I just didn't get into it for the above reasons.

Overall Rating: DNF at 40%

Book released 22nd September by Greenwillow Books
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Review: The Distance from A to Z by Natalie Blitt

The Distance from A to Z
Seventeen-year old Abby has only one goal for her summer: to make sure she is fluent in French—well, that, and to get as far away from baseball and her Cubs-obsessed family as possible. A summer of culture and language, with no sports in sight.

That turns out to be impossible, though, because her French partner is the exact kind of boy she was hoping to avoid. Eight weeks. 120 hours of class. 80 hours of conversation practice with someone who seems to exclusively wear baseball caps and jerseys.

But Zeke in French is a different person than Zeke in English. And Abby can’t help but fall for him, hard. As Abby begins to suspect that Zeke is hiding something, she has to decide if bridging the gap between the distance between who she is and who he is, is worth the risk

Zeke. Zeke. Zeke.
I may have a brand new book boyfriend. Zeke Martin. I mean, despite the fact that I spend the first 40% of this book trying to figure out whether or not I even liked him, I really do think he redeemed himself in the second half of this book.

Okay, let me put this out there - this didn't grab me straight away. I was at first bemused by Abby's dislike for anything baseball - I mean, she has her reasons but it doesn't mean she should be flat-out rude to anybody who even wears a baseball cap. I disliked her at first for this reason. Then she meets Zeke, and gets to know him. Zeke bridges the gap between her hatred for baseball and her love for French and the poor girl doesn't know what to do. Plus it doesn't help that Zeke is super sweet inside the classroom and when they are roaming the campus talking in French but when they aren't together he acts like a player. Poor girl, I couldn't help but feel for her from then on out.

The book definitely redeems itself from there though. Zeke and Abby seemed like a not-as-lovable (but still very likeable) version of St Clair and Anna from Anna and the French Kiss and I loved their dynamics and the way they changed with the relationship. And as I said at the start, Zeke after the first half of the book = love. He is so sweet and caring, putting Abby first. I couldn't even find it in myself to dislike him when he admitted that he had lied to Abby.

Plus, this book isn't just a cutey cutey contemp read, it deals with Abby's room-mate Alice's issues with social anxiety and panic attacks, something that really resonated with me and I think fit perfectly into this book.

And let me just mention Blitt's writing, because this woman is talented. The writing itself is nothing amazing in this genre but the way she managed to create individual characters and write dialogue that fit their personalities was just brilliant. I will be adding her to my 'must read authors' list. It doesn't exist yet, but I'll write it.

Overall, The Distance From A to Z didn't quite hit a grand slam, but I'd say it was close to a home run. It was an enjoyable, engaging book with characters that grew on me! 

Book released 12th January 2016 by HarperCollins
Book received from the publisher/author in exchange for an honest review

Waiting on Wednesday (3rd February 2016)

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

Anyway, here is my WOW pick, let me know what you think and link me to yours!

Heartless by Marissa Meyer
November 8th 2016 by Feiwel and Friends


Long before she was the terror of Wonderland — the infamous Queen of Hearts — she was just a girl who wanted to fall in love.

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland, and a favorite of the yet-unmarried King of Hearts, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, all she wants is to open a shop with her best friend and supply the Kingdom of Hearts with delectable pastries and confections. But according to her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for the young woman who could be the next Queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the king's marriage proposal, she meets Jest, the handsome and mysterious court joker. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into an intense, secret courtship.

Cath is determined to define her own destiny and fall in love on her terms. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Marissa Meyer does Queen of Hearts. I have so many amazing expectations for this. I'm not a massive Marissa Meyer fan.... but this sounds perfect and amazing!

Review: Are You Still There by Sarah Lynn Scheerger

Are You Still There
After her high school is rocked by an anonymous bomb threat, "perfect student" Gabriella Mallory is recruited to work on a secret crisis helpline that may help uncover the would-be bomber's identity.

Gabriella Mallory, AP student and perfect-daughter-in-training, stands barefoot on a public toilet for three hours while her school is on lockdown. Someone has planted a bomb and she is hiding. The bomb is defused but the would-be-bomber is still at large. And everyone at Central High School is a suspect. The school starts a top-secret crisis help line and Gabi is invited to join. When she does, she is drawn into a suspenseful game of cat and mouse with the bomber, who has unfinished business. He leaves threatening notes on campus. He makes threatening calls to the help line. And then he begins targeting Gabi directly. Is it because her father is the lead police detective on the case? Is the bomber one of her new friends. Could it be her new boyfriend with his complicated past? As the story unfolds, Gabi knows she is somehow connected to the bomber. Even worse she is part of his plan. Can Gabi reach out and stop him? Or will she be too late?

When the first chapter of a book focuses on a girl trapped in a toilet whilst the whole school is on lock-down because of a genuine bomb threat, you expect the rest of that book to be just as exhilarating. In fact, if the first few pages hadn't been so darned good I may have taken this book as what it was probably meant to be - a simple attempt at looking at the perpetrators of school massacres, and the other students who are indirectly affected. Instead, I saw this book as shallow, without plot and somewhat underwhelming.

Are You Still There was a book I couldn't wait to get into when I first got it and stupidly I thought I had already posted my review before now. (I hadn't). I read it over a day, and whilst I enjoyed it, I couldn't help but feel very let down. This book wasn't thrilling  - it had mystery which was covered up by the attempted romance - it just fell flat. The characters fell flat. The plot fell flat. The ending though - the big reveal - was the worst let down.

(Stop reading now if you want to avoid spoilers for the ending)

What is the point of building up all of the mystery if the perpetrator in the end is some guy who was mentioned in passing once and never a suspect. The joy of mystery thriller books is having suspects and thiking of their motives and guessing towards the end but still second guessing yourself! I didn't get that with this book.

As much as I enjoyed reading Stranger's little monologues, they got boring rather than creepy after a while and I never felt like this book was putting across the message it intended. Bullying is bad, it results in school bombings? If you want to find out who is at fault, put kids in charge? If you get given tips, don't tell the relevant authorities?

Why do so many YA characters take it on themselves to solve violent crime? Does anyone actually do this?

Book released 1st September 2015 by Albert Whitman
Book received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review