Thursday, 28 November 2013

Review for A Gift to Remember by Melissa Hill

A Gift to Remember by Melissa Hill 
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release: 24th October 2013
Genre: Chick-lit, Christmas, Books about Books
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Summary:
"Darcy Archer works in a small bookstore in Manhattan. A daydream believer, she refuses to settle for anything less than being swept off her feet by the perfect man… literally.

One day, when cycling to work, Darcy accidentally crashes into a sharply dressed gentleman walking his dog. He is knocked out cold, rushed to hospital and the poor pup gets left behind.

Wrecked with guilt, Darcy takes the dog and makes plans to reunite him with owner, Aiden. As she discovers the mysterious stranger's world of books, travel, adventure and all the wonderful things she's ever dreamt about, Darcy builds a picture of this man and wonders if he could be THE ONE…

But does fantasy match reality? What happens when Prince Charming wakes up? Will Aiden be the happy ever after she's always imagined?"

Melissa Hill is one of my favourite authors so I always get excited for a new book from her but as soon as I heard what A Gift to Remember is about my excitement doubled – a book about books, set at Christmas time, in New York, topped off with a bookish heroine, mystery and a husky dog? Yes please! This is one of those books that sound like it was written for me and hands down it was the festive book I was most looking forward to reading this year.

Darcy Archer is a bit of a loner. She works in an independent bookshop in America’s greatest city and lives a quiet life selling books by day and getting lost between the pages of her favourite classics by night. Darcy was a girl after my own heart and her love for books shone through the pages. In many ways A Gift to Remember is a book about books and the people who love them with quotes from famous authors headlining each chapter and books themselves playing a big part in the story. Needless to say this is the perfect wintery read for book lovers to curl up with this Christmas.

One of the things I love about Melissa Hill’s books is the sense of mystery throughout and the surprising twists at the end. A Gift to Remember follows Melissa Hill’s usual formula this time centring around Aidan the man Darcy accidently knocks down on her bike one morning on her way to work. Aidan ends up forgetting everything about his life and so Darcy spends the book trying to piece together the small fragments she knows about Aidan’s life to help bring back his memories so that he can leave hospital and return home to his loved ones in time for Christmas. The only clues she has to work with being Aidan’s gorgeous husky dog that he was walking at the time of the accident and a mysterious book shaped present that he was carrying on his person. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding Aidan and I loved putting the puzzle pieces that we’re given together. Although towards the end of the book I had an inkling as to what had happened there were some good surprises thrown in there too. By the end everything had wrapped together nicely. Like a Christmas present A Gift to Remember has many layers and unwrapping each layer to get to the heart of the story only builds the anticipation and fun.

The only thing that let this book down for me was that it wasn’t as Christmassy as I was expecting it to be. I felt like Melissa Hill could have taken advantage of Christmas time in New York more than she did. Nevertheless although it wasn’t packed with festivity it was a lovely story with a Christmas back drop. Just keep that in mind if you’re looking for a full on Christmas read.

Overall A Gift to Remember was a heart-warming story sprinkled with romance and mystery. If you’re a book lover with a soft spot for books about books this needs to be on your Christmas to be read pile! Or if you’re looking for the perfect gift for somebody who loves books this would be a real treat to find underneath the Christmas tree!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Review for Crash Into You by Katie McGarry

Crash Into You by Katie McGarry
Publisher: Mira Ink
Release: 26th November 2013
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Source: Received from the publishers in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Summary:
"The girl with straight A's, designer clothes, and the perfect life - that's who people expect Rachel Young to be. So the private school junior keeps secrets from her wealthy parents and overbearing brothers...and she's just added two more to the list.

One involves racing strangers down dark country roads in her Mustang GT. The other? Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Walker - a guy she has no business even talking to. But when the foster kid with the tattoos and intense gray eyes comes to her rescue, she can't get him out of her mind.

Isaiah has secrets too. About where he lives, and how he really feels about Rachel. The last thing he needs is to get tangled up with a rich girl who wants to slum it on the south side for kicks - no matter how angelic she might look. But when their shared love of street racing puts both their lives in jeopardy, they have six weeks to come up with a way out. Six weeks to discover just how far they'll go to save each other."

My heart broke for Isaiah in Dare You To and so right from the start of Crash Into You I was rooting for him to finally find the love and happiness he deserves. I’d seen a few mixed reviews before reading this book and knowing that a big part of it is about cars and street racing (something I know next to nothing about) I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t enjoy this book as much as the other two in the series. I needn’t have worried, despite Isaiah and Rachel’s car talk going over my head at times, I actually loved the thrill of the car races and the excitement it added to the story. To my surprise I ended up loving Crash Into You even more than Dare You To although Pushing The Limits still remains my favourite.

I think the reason I loved Crash Into You so much is because of Rachel and her story. Rachel appears to have it all; wealthy parents, an expensive education, and four protective big brothers. Behind the façade her family are crumbling from the heartbreak of losing Colleen – a sister Rachel never knew and was born to replace. Colleen was girly, confident and had a strong bond with their mother. A bond that Rachel is desperately trying to forge by being who her family wants her to be - essentially another Colleen. However Rachel is nothing like her sister was; she’d much rather tinker around with her beloved car than go for pedicures with her mom. Rachel is crumbling under the pressure of living in Colleen’s shadow and as a result suffers from crippling panic attacks. Being somebody who suffers with anxiety I instantly connected with Rachel and felt sympathetic towards her situation. Rachel sees herself as selfish and weak and I loved reading about her growth as a character as she came out of her shell and realised that what she saw as her weakness actually takes strength to live with. By the end of the book I was so proud of her and got all emotional at how far she’d come.

A reoccurring theme throughout Crash Into You is how appearances can be deceiving and that was certainly true for Isaiah as well as Rachel. I’d read in a few reviews that people felt like Isaiah’s personality completely changed in this book but I just think that we finally got to see the real Isaiah behind the front he puts on. Isaiah’s the kind of guy you’d cross over the street to avoid if you saw him coming with the tattoos, piercings, and his reputation for being a bad ass. We learn in this book that that isn’t Isaiah at all but an exterior he wants the world to see. It’s the armour he uses to protect himself and stop people from getting too close or messing with what’s his. I loved getting to know the Isaiah underneath all that – a guy who is deeply damaged by his past and fiercely protective of those rare and special people who he lets in.

I loved Rachel and Isaiah’s relationship and thought that they had fantastic chemistry. Although there was an immediate attraction between them I liked how Isaiah still struggled with his feelings for Beth and how they didn’t just disappear as soon as Rachel came along. Rachel was the perfect match for Isaiah; she loves cars as much as he does, isn’t intimidated by how he looks and takes the time to get to know the person underneath. Not only did Rachel and Isaiah bring out the best in each other but they also challenged one another. Isaiah had to find faith that Rachel wouldn’t be snatched away from him like so much in his life has been and Rachel has to show Isaiah that she’s strong enough to take care of herself and that he doesn’t need to protect her.

Overall I absolutely loved Crash Into You! I laughed, I cried, I swooned and I’m left desperate for stories featuring Abby, Logan and Ethan who were brilliant secondary characters that I want more from (maybe Abby with one of the guys?) Katie McGarry has done it again and I’m looking forward to West's story in Take Me On.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

It's Time For Another Readathon!

Amber @ Books of Amber is hosting a fun and informal readathon this week running from tomorrow to the 1st of December. There are no rules, no challenges, you don't even have to officially sign up. I have a lot going on next week with it being my Aunties funeral and this relaxed readathon sounds like exactly what I need to keep myself distracted without taking on a lot of commitment.

I reached my 100th book read yesterday so that's my challenge for the year completed so I'm not really looking to read loads but rather to use the readathon as an excuse to relax with a book, eat all the things, and stalk all of the bloggers and what they're reading. The more the merrier so if you fancy a week dedicated purely to reading you can find out more about it on Amber's blog here.

Because I want this to be low pressure I won't be doing daily updates on the blog but I will be updating on Goodreads and Twitter so you can follow my progress on there. I've also made a TBR on my Goodreads here and I'm hoping to tackle a book from my Christmas TBR pile as well.

If you're taking part let me know in the comments so I can follow your progress and let me know if there's anything on my TBR that I should make a priority - I have a lot of books that I'm excited about on there which is going to make choosing hard!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Review for The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead

This is a review for the fourth book in the Bloodlines series and so may contain spoilers from the previous books.

The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead
Publisher: Penguin
Release: 19th November 2013
Genre: YA, Vampires, Magic, Paranormal Romance
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Summary:
"WHEN PULSES QUICKEN NO SECRET IS SAFE. Sydney always believed that alchemists were born to protect vampire secrets and human lives - until she met Marcus and turned her back on everything she once knew. But she's not free yet. When her sister Zoe arrives, Sydney can only tell her half-truths about her past. And with every word she risks exposure - and the fatal consequences. Consumed by passion and vengeance, Sydney must choose her path once and for all. Even if that means harnessing her magical powers to destroy the way of life she was raised to defend..."

The Fiery Heart is hands down the best book in the Bloodlines series yet. I know I say this with every book but each one gets better! The Fiery Heart is the most romantic in the series yet as we finally get to experience Sydrian as a couple – it was well worth the wait! The book starts with sweet and tender stolen moments between the two and as their relationship strengthens and develops we see the spark between them burst into flame as their love becomes more urgent and steamy.

Of course with their Vampire/Alchemist relationship Adrian and Sydney have to keep their romance a secret and they have to be extra careful with Sydney’s Alchemist sister Zoe lurking around *sighs.* Part of me loved the extra thrill this added to their relationship and another part of me was sad that they couldn’t behave and be treated like a normal couple. I basically swooned and fangirled my way through this book and my hatred for the Alchemists and everything they stand for intensified.

For the first time we’re given an insight into Adrian’s thoughts and feelings with the inclusion of chapters from his point of view. I’m always a bit wary when a dual narrative is suddenly added but Richelle Mead captures Adrian’s voice perfectly and I never had any trouble distinguishing between him and Sydney. It was so nice to see what was going on behind his brooding looks, to read his feelings towards Sydney and explore the bond he has with Jill. It was also really interesting to see first-hand the affect Spirit has on him mentally and to see how he actually uses his magic to create Spirit dreams and heal. I really felt like I got to know Adrian on a deeper level and I came away from this book loving him even more.

Plot wise I feel like everything has started to come together in this book. There is certainly some development with both Spirit and Sydney’s magic and I love the direction Richelle Mead has taken with this. As well as the supernatural issues both Sydney and Adrian are going through contemporary problems as well; Sydney with her family and Adrian with his mental health. I love that Richelle Mead deals with real world issues as well as the supernatural ones; it makes her characters and world feel even more real.

The cherry on top of the cake for me was that we got to go back to court and hang out with all our old friends. Dimitri, Rose, Lissa, Christian and Sonya are all present in this book. I always had the biggest smile on my face whenever they were around or mentioned!

Although I completely saw the ending to this book coming it still broke my heart to read and has left me desperate for book five. The Fiery Heart brings ALL OF THE FEELS and was an emotional rollercoaster to read. With high stakes, a burning romance, and a plot that is heading towards a series climax The Fiery Heart has left me with my emotions all over the place, my nerves in shreds, and my heart holding on to hope as I impatiently await Silver Shadows.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

UKYA Blog Tour: Chatting With C.J. Skuse

The UKYA blog tour has been created by the lovely Lucy at Queen of Contemporary who's dedicated a whole month to celebrating UKYA with the help of other book bloggers across the UK. Today I'm getting my fangirl on as I'm delighted to have one of my favourite UKYA authors C.J. Skuse (Pretty Bad Things, Rockoholic and Dead Romantic) on the blog chatting about her books as well as the UKYA genre. C.J writes hilarious contemporary stories with a flare for the wacky and strange (in a good way). If you're looking for a fun read with lovable characters I couldn't recommend her books more.

 Chatting With C.J

Hi C.J, thanks for stopping by the blog today! I love your books and I’m trying not to fangirl too hard at the fact that you’re on my little corner of the internet. 

In the theme of the UKYA blog tour I’ve decided to include some UKYA related questions as well as some general ones... 

General Questions: 
1.) Why do you write Young Adult novels as opposed to books for Adults?
I started writing for teens when I was a teen myself and it’s just something that’s sort of stuck with me. Whenever I conjure up a new character, they’re always the age I was when I began to write seriously - seventeen.
2.) Out of all of your characters which are you most like?
The main characters in all of my books contain a slice of me. They are kind of like my Horcruxes; the different chunks of my soul. Paisley in Pretty Bad Things is Angry Me on a very bad day. Jody from Rockoholic is Obsessive Me. She has the same fixations, same attitude to most things and she is probably the one who most resembles me in my day-to-day life. Camille in Dead Romantic is Romantic Me. The next two characters in the two books I’m currently writing represent the Sensible Me and the Childish Me.
3.) Where do you get your story ideas from?
Anywhere and everywhere. Conversations, films, books, people I meet. I fixate on subjects and want to know more about them, so I research them to death and want to build books around them, like when I was writing PBT it was Hansel and Gretel and Bonnie and Clyde. With Rocko, it was Stephen King, rock stars and The Rocky Horror Show. For Dead Romantic it was teenage graverobbers and Herbert West: Reanimator. At the moment I’m fixating on imaginary friends, riots and mythical beasts.
4.) Describe your books in three words.
Unbelievably fucking cool

UKYA Themed Questions:
1.) What is the best UKYA book that you’ve read this year? 
 The Savages by Matt Whyman.
2.) Who are your favourite UKYA authors?
 Lucy Christopher, Rachel Ward, Melvin Burgess, Kevin Brooks, Malorie Blackman, Holly Bourne, Holly Smale, David Massey, Tabitha Suzuma, Patrick Ness. The UK has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to top quality YA fiction.
3.) What would you like to see more of in UKYA?
Quality stand alone fiction that speaks to real contemporary teens
4.) What upcoming UKYA books are you most looking forward to reading?
Monster and Sam and Delilah, both by C.J. Skuse funnily enough ; )

Thanks for chatting with us C.J! I love that your characters are Horcruxes of yourself. You obviously have excellent taste in UKYA authors, and I'm really looking forward to Monster and Sam and Delilah!

For more from C.J follow her on Twitter and check out Pretty Bad Things, Rockoholic and Dead Romantic on Goodreads.

I'd love to know what your favourite UKYA book of 2013 is? What upcoming UKYA books are you excited to read in 2014? And what would you like to see more of in UKYA?

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

All I Want For Christmas Is...Books!

The nights are drawing in, the jumpers are coming out, the Christmas adverts are on the telly and I'm starting to hear the same question over and over again "What do you want for Christmas?" So to help any friends or family looking for the perfect gift (and also for my inner child who gets nostalgic to write those letters to Santa!) I decided to create a bookish Christmas wishlist post! In no way do I expect to get all of these things for Christmas but I wanted to put some ideas out there so that I can direct anyone who asks to this list. I’d love to know if you have read and enjoyed any of these, maybe your comments could persuade someone to choose one book over the other? ;) Here's what I'm wishing for this Christmas...

Dear Santa's Helpers,

I'd really, really, really love any of the following for Christmas...

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Past Perfect by Leila Sales
Jasprit from The Readers Den has snatched up this one! Thank you lovely!

Premeditated by Josin L. McQuein

3:59 by Gretchen McNeil 

Any of the above will be received with much love and thanks! Or a good old Amazon Giftcard to go towards some of these beauties would be perfect! I've been very good this year.

Love, Jess x

Friday, 8 November 2013

Review for The Reunion by Amy Silver

The Reunion by Amy Silver 
Publisher: Arrow
Release: 12th September 2013
Genre: Fiction, Friendship, Women’s Fiction
Source: Received via Netgalley

Goodreads Summary:
"They thought they'd be friends forever.

Jen, Andrew, Lilah, Natalie and Dan were inseparable at university, but in the seventeen years since they left they have hardly seen each other. Until Jen invites them all to stay at her house in the French Alps. The house where they once spent a golden summer before tragedy tore them apart.

When a snowstorm descends, they find themselves trapped and forced to confront their unresolved issues, frustrated passions and broken friendships. And as relationships shift and marriages flounder, the truth about what really happened years before is slowly revealed. And Jen realises that perhaps some wounds can never be healed..."

Amy Silver is one of my favourite authors for women’s fiction and I don’t think that her books get nearly enough attention as they deserve. If you enjoy character driven stories about realistic, and at times difficult, topics then Amy Silver is the author for you – I love unravelling the messy tangle of her characters’ lives! The Reunion is moving and compelling and it makes a nice change of pace from the happy festive reads that you can find in abundance at this time of year whilst still being an ideal read for cosying up with by the fire.

This story of betrayal, friendship and secrets begins with five old friends who haven’t spoken in years being thrown together in a remote cottage in France during a snow storm. Best friends at University until tragedy tore them apart Jen, Dan, Nat, Andrew and Lilah haven’t spoken since that fatal day. With news to share Jen invites them under false pretences to spend a weekend at her home in France that’s haunted by the happy and sad memories of the summers the group shared there. When a snow storm hits, the group are trapped and are forced to confront the past and untangle the messy and complicated relationships they have with one another as well as confront the blame and guilt they feel over the part they played on that life changing day. Amy Silver doesn’t give up all of her secrets at once; everything is slowly revealed in chapters that are set both in the past and present so that we get to thoroughly examine each character and their actions and the revelations that add vital pieces to the puzzle keep on coming until the very end.

Each character is so well developed. They’re all incredibly human with both good and bad traits. By the end of the book I felt like I knew every one of them inside out from what makes them tick to what brings them happiness. Each character had their flaws but I couldn’t help but love all of them because I could always understand where they were coming from and the thought process behind their actions. Each character has a place in the group and holds a piece of the puzzle and I loved seeing how one characters actions would then go on to influence somebody else’s decisions and so on until that heart-breaking final.

The Reunion is such a hard book to review because I don’t want to give away any of its secrets but if you enjoy books that give you plenty to chew over and characters who you can’t stop thinking about once you’ve put the book down then this is the book for you. Amy Silver has delivered an emotional and enthralling read and I’m already looking forward to what she comes out with next.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Review for World After by Susan Ee

This is the second book in the Penryn and the End of Days series. Although this review will contain no spoilers from World After by talking about the plot there may be unintentional spoilers from the first book in the series.

World After by Susan Ee
Publisher: Hodder
Release: 21st November 2013
Genre: YA, Angels, Romance, Dystopian
Source: Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Goodreads Summary: 
"When a group of people capture Penryn's sister Paige, thinking she's a monster, the situation ends in a massacre. Paige disappears. Humans are terrified. Mom is heartbroken. 

Penryn drives through the streets of San Francisco looking for Paige. Why are the streets so empty? Where is everybody? Her search leads her into the heart of the angels' secret plans where she catches a glimpse of their motivations, and learns the horrifying extent to which the angels are willing to go.

 Meanwhile, Raffe hunts for his wings. Without them, he can't rejoin the angels, can't take his rightful place as one of their leaders. When faced with recapturing his wings or helping Penryn survive, which will he choose?"

Angelfall was a book that I read and fell in love with only a few months ago and so I had the advantage of not having long to wait for World After. I started it as soon as it arrived and read the entire book in a day because I could not put it down. Like Angelfall it was gritty, romantic and exciting and I loved it just as much.

In World After we’re introduced to some new characters and some new places as well as catching up with old characters and re-visiting familiar areas. We get to find out more about the creepy Scorpion creatures and more about the children like Paige and what the Angels plans are for them. We were left with all this new information at the end of Angelfall and I loved learning more about the Angels’ creations and finding out the extent of their apocalyptic plans for our world.

I’m sad to say that there is less Raffe in World After and although I did miss him it only made the chapters with him in even more special and there are some gorgeous moments between him and Penryn. In Raffe’s absence Susan Ee keeps him as a central part of the story in a unique and clever way. Penryn is left with Raffe’s sword and early on in the book Penryn starts receiving visions from the sword as it shares Raffe’s memories from key moments during Angefall that I absolutely loved getting his thoughts and feelings on. We also get to see memories from Raffe’s past which is something that I was always curious about in Angefall. I loved this aspect to the story and thought that it was a clever way to still keep Raffe involved whilst he wasn’t physically present.

Now that Penryn and her family are reunited there is more from her mother and Paige in this sequel and I loved getting to know them better. Paige actually plays quite a big role in this story and we find out exactly what she went through in the time that she was missing which made me cry on several occasions because it was so heart-breaking to read. My heart broke for that poor little girl and everything she’d been through. We also get to find out what Paige has become and what her abilities are now that she’s not entirely human.

With any beloved book there is always the worry that the sequel won’t be as good or that it’ll suffer from the dreaded “second book syndrome” but World After is just as extraordinary as its predecessor and looking back I think I might have loved it a tiny bit more than Angefall - which I didn’t think was even possible! World After made me laugh and it made me cry and I literally couldn’t put the thing down. It also finished on a nice solid ending and I applaud it for relying on its gripping storyline and lovable characters to leave readers desperate for the third book instead of an unresolved and abrupt ending which seems to be all too common in YA these days. I am already anticipating the third book and I think that speaks volumes about Susan Ee’s talent as an author and the quality of this stunning series.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

October Round-Up and Book of the Month!

October's Book of the Month is This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life is one of those books that hit me straight in the feels! It's about being different and finding the place you belong in the world and music and friendship and bad relationships. It's the kind of book that I wish was around when I was a teenager. I didn't expect to love this book as much as I did and it being book of the month is a really pleasant surprise. If you'd like to know more about this book and what I thought check out my 5 star review here where I also shared some of my favourite quotes from the book.

*** I think that these two GIF's sum up this book perfectly! *** 

 Read in October
87.) Red Hill by Jamie McGuire (4.5*)
88.) How to Love by Katie Cotugno (3.5*)
89.) The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (4.5*)
90.) Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream by Abby Clements (4*)
91.) This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales (5*)
92.) Allegiant by Veronica Roth (3*)
93.) The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher (4*)
94.) The Reunion by Amy Silver (4.5*)

October Book Awards
Best Plot: The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher
Best Writing: The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
Best Cover: Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream by Abby Clements
Best Characters: The Reunion by Amy Silver
Best Ending: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Best Romance: Allegiant by Veronica Roth
Most un-put-down-able: Red Hill by Jamie McGuire
Most Memorable: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales
Best Moral: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Top 3 Most Recommended Books: This Song Will Save Your Life, The Dream Thieves, Red Hill

Books I’m Looking Forward to Being Released in November
Just For Christmas by Scarlett Bailey
Crash into You by Katie McGarry
The Edge of Always by J. A. Redmerski
Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan

There aren't that many books being released this month, which is nice because it means I can catch up on some older releases I missed out on earlier this year. I'm pretty excited for November's month in reading because as you can see I've read 94 books which means that all going well I should reach my 100th book read this month! I've always wanted to read 100 books in a year and this will be my first time achieving that goal (I've come so close the last few years!) so I will be absolutely thrilled! Is it sad that reading 100 books in a year was actually on my bucket list!? Keep your fingers crossed for me!

What was the best book you read in October? And what are you looking forward to reading in November?
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