Tag Archives: romance

Book Review: INFERNO by Cat Doyle

Related posts: Book Review: VENDETTA by Catherine Doyle | Vendetta Blog tour: Catherine Doyle on films that inspired Vendetta | Cover Reveal: Vendetta #2 by Catherine Doyle

Published January 7th 2016 by Chicken House Books.
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Goodreads Synopsis: Sophie’s life has been turned upside-down, and she’s determined to set things right. But Nic, the Falcone brother who represents everything she’s trying to forget, won’t give up on their love – and it’s Luca’s knife she clutches for comfort. Soon another mafia clan spoils the fragile peace – and with her heart drawn in one direction and her blood in another, Sophie’s in deeper than ever.

My Review: Vendetta was, undoubtedly, one of the biggest UKYA books of last year – it was an epic story and it was everywhere online. When I read it, I enjoyed it, but not as much as others, which I was kind of sad about.

When I was asked if I’d like to read Inferno, I jumped at the chance to, because I really wanted to know what happened next! I ended up devouring the story over Christmas, and I enjoyed this instalment so much.

I think I enjoyed this book more because it was full of even more action and drama, and a little less romance. There are so many shocking plot twists, more than I remember there being in the first book. It was great! In Inferno, the story takes even more complicated turns: tensions between the Mafia families of Chicago are heightening, and rivalry is starting to result in violence. It was a nail-biting ride from start to finish!

The ending was fantastic, and fit the story perfectly – what Sophie discovers, and what happens as a result of that, is both horrifying and emotional. I guess it was inevitable, but didn’t see it coming.

Sophie’s character really grew on me in this book. I didn’t dislike her before, but I just feel like this book displayed her personality so much better, and she develops so much more in this sequel. I’m really loving her story, and the complexity of it all.

Overall, Inferno was such a brilliant read! Packed full of action, tension and a little romance, it’s got something fro any YA reader. I’m really looking forward to the next book, now!

My Rating: 

four

I received a copy of Inferno from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: The Next Together by Lauren James

Published 3rd September 2015 by Walker books.

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Sidenote: HOW PRETTY IS THIS COVER OH MY GOODNESS

Goodreads Synopsis: How many times can you lose the person you love?
A powerful and epic début novel for teenagers about reincarnation and the timelessness of first love from a talented young writer.
Teenagers Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again. Each time their presence changes history for the better, and each time, they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.
But why do they keep coming back? What else must they achieve before they can be left to live and love in peace?
Maybe the next together will be different…

My Review: When I first heard about this book I wasn’t too sure I’d read it – the idea of two lovers being reborn over & over throughout history reminded me a lot of an old favourite, Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick. But then I read into it more, and saw that beautiful cover, and was offered the chance to review it for LoveReading4Kids – I jumped at the opportunity to.

I was hooked from the opening pages. The story is split between multiple time periods and the reincarnations of Katherine and Matthew in each one; from 2039 to 1745. With each life, they fall in love, affect historical events – and are separated again, to be born again. The stories are all told, uniquely, through not just usual writing but notes between the characters, maps, articles and letters. I loved the format. It made for such a unique reading experience. I thought I’d struggle to keep up with the multiple plots, but it was quite easy to read and Lauren James’s writing is so engrossing.

Technically, we see four reincarnations of the same characters in the same book! James has written them fantastically; no matter what time period, their personalities shine through (Katherine being pretty funny in many places. I had to suppress laughing out loud on a packed train) – though they’re also quite different in each year. I’m always pretty cynical when it comes to romance books but Lauren James has written these characters and their chemistry so so well.

As I did mention, I’ve seen a story done like this before, but this book still felt highly original and compelling – from the perfectly crafted, pulse-raising plot to the instantly loveable and beautifully written characters. There’s an almost sinister, underlying feeling to the plot, as there are mysterious computer-input-type messages throughout such as “objective achieved” / “intervention recommended.” It had me thinking all the way through as to what they could mean! It made quite an intriguing mystery on the side of the main events – it’s linked, but I’ll stop talking about it now…

Overall, I have to say this is the most stunning début of 2015 so far… Or maybe even a while longer. Lauren James is definitely an author to watch out for; her writing is astounding and the plot she has crafted is a rich blend of Sci-Fi, history and romance that is an absolute joy to read. It’s a gripping, emotional roller-coaster that I highly recommend looking out for.

My Rating:

four and a half

I received a copy of The Next Together from the publisher, via LoveReading4Kids, for review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

 

Book Review: Off The Page by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

Make sure to scroll down after my rating – there’s an awesome bonus thing about this book! 

Published 4th June 2015 by Hodder.

25001544Goodreads Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Delilah is finally united with Oliver—a prince literally taken from the pages of a fairy tale. There are, however, complications now that Oliver has been able to enter the real world. To exist in Delilah’s world, Oliver must take the place of a regular boy. Enter Edgar, who agrees to take Oliver’s role in Delilah’s favorite book. In this multilayered universe, the line between what is on the page and what is possible is blurred, but all must be resolved for the characters to live happily ever after.

My Review: A few years ago, my dad passed me the proof copy for Between the Lines, a book he thought I might like because it was about story characters coming to life. I LOVED it. I wanted more! Coincidentally, a few days after I finally bought a finished copy of Between the Lines only a few weeks ago, I was emailed about reviewing the sequel. How I had missed that news before, I have no clue. Needless to say I have never responded to an email faster.

Off the Page is, essentially, a sequel –  it follows Oliver adjusting to life in the human world with his love, Delilah, after he’s left his fairy tale – but it’s not actually that hard to follow for someone who’s new to the story! Following the events of Between the Lines, Oliver and Delilah can finally be together in the real world – and Delilah thought that teaching him basic human-world skills would be hard, but when something in the book is starting to mess everything up, Delilah realises it’s going to be a lot harder…

Admittedly it did take me a little while to become properly engrossed in the story, but once I was, I didn’t want to stop reading. The plot progresses brilliantly, with some twists and turns I couldn’t guess were coming. The ending was really satisfying and actually made me tear up a tiny bit!

Just as Between the Lines was, Off the Page was superbly written – a blend of humour and heart that’s hard not to fall in love with. Mother and daughter duo Picoult & Van Leer are both so talented and I love their writing – I would love to read more from both in the future, collaborative or not! There’s something about Off the Page that I can’t quite define. It, along with the first book, just seems to stand out against the rest of its genres – feeling like an old classic, but upbeat and modern too. They seem to be very popular in the US , so I really want to spread the love for them over here in England!

Overall, Off the Page was a fantastic companion novel that I highly recommend – whether you have read Between the Lines or not. The beautifully crafted contemporary world with a fantasy twist will certainly appeal to fans of Inkheart by Cornelia Funke! Whether you’re looking for a gripping fantasy story, or a beautifully written romance, Off the Page is perfect. I can’t wait to read more from Picoult & Van Leer in the future – it was sad to see this story finish!

My Rating:

four

 


ALSO! ZAPPAR FEATURES: On the front of the hardcover book, you’ll find a sticker that asks you to scan the book with Zappar – an app available on iOS and Android. I was expecting this to be simply a link to a description of the book or something similarly generic – so I was stunned at what scanning the book revealed! Excuse my bad attempts at getting photos…IMG_5469

The words on the front cover animate a spiral off the page, then the book characters bursting off the page literally do jump off the page. Through your phone or tablet, you can watch them dance around – and flip your camera to take a selfie with them! Here’s dad looking baffled because technology.

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I received a copy of Off the Page from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: Lorali by Laura Dockrill

Published 2nd July 2015 by Hot Key Books.

24910026Goodreads Synopsis: Looking after a naked girl he found washed up under Hastings pier isn’t exactly how Rory had imagined spending his sixteenth birthday. But more surprising than finding her in the first place is discovering where she has come from.
Lorali is running not just from the sea, not just from her position as princess, but her entire destiny. Lorali has rejected life as a mermaid, and become human.
But along with Lorali’s arrival, and the freak weather suddenly battering the coast, more strange visitors begin appearing in Rory’s bemused Sussex town. With beautifully coiffed hair, sharp-collared shirts and a pirate ship shaped like a Tudor house, the Abelgare boys are a mystery all of their own. What are they really up to? Can Rory protect Lorali? And who from? And where does she really belong, anyway?

My Review: Mermaid books have never really been my ‘thing’ so I can’t say I’ve read many of them. Lorali had been on my radar for a while, but it wasn’t until I listened in person to Laura Dockrill brilliantly pitch it that I’d really wanted to read it! It was refreshing to delve into a new genre – and the writing of an author I’ve never read before. Needless to say, I’d love to read more YA from Laura in the future.

I didn’t realise the book was from multiple perspectives but it was maybe my favourite part of the book – especially the perspective of the sea, which was interesting and a really good way to tell parts of the story.

Lorali is not a typical princess and although I wish more of the book had consisted of it, I adored her narrative; written in a tentative, explorative style that reflects the surfaced mermaid’s confusion and discovery of a new world.

Rory, the boy who finds Lorali on the beach and soon becomes a love interest, was also very likeable, as he was so selfless and simultaneously very vulnerable-feeling. I’ve never read a character quite like him. Lorali and Rory’s love is a driving theme of the plot and I did quite like their chemistry.

The pacing was great and I raced through the book, always wanting to know what happened next. Though I haven’t read many similar books, this is undoubtedly a much grittier mermaid tale than many will anticipate. The world building was fantastic – it felt almost gothic in places, always richly imagined. There are a couple of ‘media clippings’ in the book too by the public about mermaids which made me giggle a bit, too.

Overall, Lorali was an unexpectedly very gripping and enjoyable read. I’m really glad I picked it up. The story was darker than I had anticipated and the ending was shocking; an outcome I definitely didn’t see coming! Lorali is definitely worth seeking out if you’re interested in a darkly fantastical read.

My Rating:

four

I received a copy of Lorali from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

THE CURIOUS TALE OF THE LADY CARABOO BLOG TOUR: Catherine Johnson’s Diverse Book Recs

I haven’t helped on a blog tour for a while, so this post is pretty exciting! 🙂

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The Curious Tale of the Lady Caraboo is a YA historical romance by Catherine Johnson, author of Sawbones. It’s out on July 2nd, and for this blog tour Catherine is here on the blog to give some diverse book recommendations!

Catherine Johnson on Diverse Books:

Hello and thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog to share some books.

There are honestly more books with diverse characters than you might imagine. It really is a question of looking for them.  There are even more where the sidekick or the love interest is a POC or LGBT or ‘different’, even though we all are. Different, that is.

So I’ve decided to rule those out – who wants to be the sidekick?  Most of us have been fed up with being the sidekick since primary school.  What we love about books is the chance to be swept away to stand in the shoes of someone else and see where that takes us. That was one of the reasons I started writing historical stories. I wanted the person in the front, in the swooshy frock to be someone who looked like me.

Anyway. The following are all favourites of mine – even though there is one I haven’t read yet….

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1 Liccle Bit, Alex Wheatle

This is a fantastic book. It’s set on a council estate in South London as Liccle Bit –  real name Lemar, he’s small for his age  – attempts to ask the girl of his dreams out and not fall foul of the local bad guys. But there is so much more to it than that. This is how a lot of London looks and sounds and the writing sizzles with life. This is Alex Wheatles’ first YA book – he’s written lots for adults – and I hope it’s the first of many.

2 Running Girl,  Simon Mason

My favourite book of last year and my favourite YA lead character in a million years. Garvie Smith’s IQ is off the scale, but he is also pathologically lazy, a stoner and (from my adult pov) entirely annoying. I could slap him SO many times! But he’s also charismatic and brilliant and he’s going to find out what happened to the girl in question whether the police – in the shape of DI  Singh- get in his way or not.

3 Noughts and Crosses Graphic Novel,  illus. John Aggs, written by Malorie Blackman

I haven’t read this yet but I have pre-ordered the hell out of it. Blackman’s book was truly a blockbuster in every sense of the word. Using reversals to give white readers a sense of what it might be like to be in the minority as well as deliver a cracking story, Blackman builds an utterly believable brand new world and has us willing her characters to win through on every page. I cannot wait to see this as a Graphic novel.

4 Chains, Laurie Halse Anderson

This is one I use in teaching. Look at the first chapter. No, just look at the first line. If you don’t read the whole book after that then I don’t believe you have any kind of a heart. At all. Halse Anderson is a brilliant writer and in this book she takes us back to the American War of Independence and shows us events though the eyes of young Isabel, born a slave.  Fabulous.

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5 Web of Darkness, Bali Rai

A chilling psychological thriller. Why Bali Rai is such  woefully under appreciated UK writer is a massive mystery to me. In this novel, set in a school in modern day Leicester, our protagonist Lily, seems like an ordinary girl,  she’s a little bit insecure and her and her mates spend a lot of time on social media. But the story soon twists as Lily’s life takes a  series of dark turns. This novel handles modern themes, suicide, the internet, and how much we give away about ourselves. It’s one of his best I think.

6 The House You Pass on the Way, Jacqueline Woodson

I have to be honest here, I picked this one up just because the heroine was called Staggerlee – like in the song. She chose the name herself because she felt her given name Evangeline wasn’t fierce enough. That was enough to set me off. And then there’s the writing. Woodson, winner of The Newbery Medal, is an utter genius and this is a coming of age story –  with a lesbian protagonist – that will knock your socks off.

7 If You Were Me,  Sam Hepburn

Another almost brand new book and another one that shows us what London is really like from the point of view of new Londoner Aliyah and her family – resettled from Afghanistan. When her brother is arrested as a terrorist she’s going to fight to clear his name. She finds an unlikely ally in local boy Dan, who has his own secrets. This is a brilliant modern thriller, I can’t recommend it enough.

8 This is Not A Love Story, Keren David

Keren David’s book is unusual for UKYA in being set overseas in Amsterdam and in having a cast of young Jewish teens. It’s about love and identity and dark secrets, but there’s a total and utter freshness and modernity to these young people, to their actions and their choices. It’s like seeing characters come of age as you read.

A couple more very recent books that I LOVE are Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill, and Carnegie listed Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman, and can I say I am dying to read For Holly from Tanya Byrne? And I am going to stop now or I will go on forever (and ever).

Catherine is the author of The Curious Tale of The Lady Caraboo out July 2 from Penguin Random House.

Thanks Catherine for an awesome post, it was an honour to host it! I better go check out some of these titles now – This is Not a Love Story by Keren David has been on my radar for a while and that’s at the top of my shopping list! 

COVER REVEAL: Vendetta #2 by Catherine Doyle

I’m very excited to be a part of a cover reveal today!

Last year, Catherine Doyle’s thrilling debut, VENDETTA, was released. Think Mafia families, in a Romeo and Juliet scenario, in modern day Chicago. The sequel is out in a few months, but today for the first time, the title and cover are released!

Without further ado… here’s INFERNO!

Inferno

 

I quite like the covers for this trilogy so far, and how the objects give hints as to what might happen! What do you think?

Additionally, if you’d like to check out my BLOG TOUR post for Vendetta, book one, you can click here!

 

Book Review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Published 4th June 2015 by Penguin Random House.

23305614Goodreads Synopsis: An anxiety disorder disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s daily life. She has been making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah, but when Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, she is energized. She connects with him. Audrey can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family.

My Review: I recognised Kinsella’s name on the email I’d received about this – my first thought was I’ll pass on this; her books aren’t my thing. But, out of curiosity, I read on in the email to see her latest was to be a YA novel – and not only that, but one about a girl coping with social anxiety. Needless to say, I couldn’t have been more eager to read it!

Finding Audrey is told brilliantly through the perspective of the main character, who is suffering from depressive episodes and social anxiety disorder. She feels trapped in her house, behind her sunglasses: And everything starts to take a different turn when she meets her brother’s friend Linus and her therapist asks her to start a film project.

I connected with Audrey straight away. She’s a very relatable and believable protagonist. There’s an event that caused her severe anxiety, and it’s suggested that there was some harsh bullying – though nothing is fully revealed. That irked me slightly at first, though I grew to get along with that – because (this might sound weird) but the reader can kind of apply their own experience to it.

Her relationship with Linus that evolves from a few awkward meetings fast became one of my favourite love stories of this year. I’m always very cynical of love interests (Just me being fussy) but Linus was so likeable and I loved the chemistry he had with Audrey – not to mention his encouragement for her.

Audrey’s family is hilarious and I loved them form the first chapter – in which her mum goes a little crazy and tries to throw her gamer brother’s PC out of the window. Audrey’s family’s antics were just so funny – I rarely laugh out loud at books but this book made me, on multiple occasions.

Overall, Finding Audrey was a really stunning YA début – I would love to read more YA fiction from Kinsella in the future! The characters were so well developed and despite the book only being just under 300 pages, I really felt like I knew all of them by the end. (Did I mention that I stayed up until two in the morning to finish this? Yep, that happened. Nope, I have never done that with a book before. I was engrossed.) Highly recommended, if you’re looking for a heart-warming tale; a perfect blend of humour and hope.

My Rating:

four and a half

I received a copy of Finding Audrey from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

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