Thursday, 24 March 2016

Review for When We Collided by Emery Lord

When We Collided by Emery Lord 
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release: 7th April 2016
Genre: Contemporary, Mental Health
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"Seventeen year old Jonah Daniels has lived in Verona Cove, California, his whole life, and only one thing has ever changed: his father used to be alive, and now he's not. Now Jonah must numbly take care of his family as they reel from their tragedy. Cue next change: Vivi Alexander, new girl in town.

Vivi is in love with life. A gorgeous and unfiltered hurricane of thoughts and feelings. She seems like she's from another planet as she transforms Jonah's family and changes his life. But there are always consequences when worlds collide."

Emery Lord is fast becoming one of my favourite contemporary authors. I’ve fallen hard for her vivid and vibrant characters and her beautiful way with words that wrap around my emotions and tug hard. I’ve read and enjoyed all three of her books and am so glad she’s now published in the UK.

When We Collided is told in alternate chapters between our two main characters Vivi and Jonah. Vivi is spending the summer in Jonah’s hometown Verona Cove, she’s a burst of bright light in this small summer beach town and quiet, sweet Jonah is drawn to her like a moth to a flame. Vivi bursts into Jonah’s life like a whirlwind picking up his large and lovable family who hit rock bottom when they lost their dad. Suddenly Jonah’s grey world is once again bright with colour but sometimes those who burn the brightest have a tendency to burn out. Vivi’s life is far from the colourful portrait she paints it to be and she’s hiding her own darkness from Jonah. But Jonah has lived in the dark and knows that letting in love means letting in light.

Vivi and Jonah are two very different characters but I loved them both equally. Jonah comes from a large and close family; he’s incredibly grounded and has been trying to fill in his dad’s shoes both at home and at his restaurant since his death. Vivi comes from a single parent family; she’s wild, free and incredibly artistic. The two go together like peanut butter and jelly and the result is a sweet one that has you craving more.

Despite their differences they have one thing in common – they both live with mental illness. Jonah’s mum’s grief has slowly slipped into depression and Vivi is struggling to accept her bipolar. I loved how honestly this book represented both living with a mental illness and loving someone with a mental illness. It has some really positive messages on how best to support someone with a mental illness and most importantly, how to support yourself.

I absolutely adored everything about this book. It balanced the light and dark in life so beautifully creating a fun summer read that carries an important message. It’s a real emotional rollercoaster that made me goofy-grin at the cuteness and get teary eyed when the characters hit their lows. When We Collided is one of the standout contemporary reads of this year and is an unmissable treat for anyone who likes their book boys cute, their heroines strong and their stories powerful.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Book Recommendations Based On Your Hogwarts House

I definitely subscribe to the idea that you can tell a lot about a person by what Hogwarts house they're in. This year I've found myself thinking "Oh, that's *such* a Slytherin book! So and so would love this!" more and more often. So today, just for fun, I've decided to give you some book recommendations based off of Hogwarts houses. Whether you're brave, cunning, loyal or intelligent there's something here for everyone. Except muggles. Muggles should probably leave now.

 "Gryffindor values bravery, daring, nerve, and chivalry" - Wikia

Have a Little Faith by Candy Harper 
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I think that Faith is the most Gryffindor character that I've come across outside of the Harry Potter books. She acts first and thinks later and treats the whole world like it's the Faith show. Her act first attitude gets her into heaps of trouble but her chivalry always manages to get her out of the situations she finds herself in. These books are absolutely hilarious and every Gryffindor will relate to the awkward situations Faith gets herself into.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas 
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The Throne of Glass series is a firm favourite for most people but I think that Gryffindors will especially love it. The main character Celaena Sardothien is a total Gryffindor who has buckets of bravery and daring. Sure, she makes some bad choices along the way, but her heart is always in the right place. Celaena is also incredibly charismatic and delivers killing blows to her enemies with all sorts of Gryffindor sass.
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli 
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Simon is another character that just screams Gryffindor. He's incredibly funny and brave and again has that whole chivalrous attitude going on, especially when it comes to his love interest the mysterious Blue. I think that every Gryffindor will appreciate Simon's courage in this contemporary coming out story and the red cover will go perfectly in the common room.
The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson 
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After Harry Potter, the Mistborn books are my favourite series of all time. The first book The Final Empire is an epic high fantasy that follows a heroes quest to defeat the greatest evil their world has ever seen. Gryffindors will love the character of Kelsier and appreciate the bravery of both him and his crew as they sacrifice everything to defeat evil.

 "Slytherin house values ambition, cunning and resourcefulness" -Wikia

The Young Elites by Marie Lu 
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Slytherin friends! Finally a book has come along that follows the villain of the story, not the hero. Adelina Amouteru is Slytherin to the bone and after a life of being hurt, she wants to be the one who gets to do the hurting. She's got an extraordinary power and has ambitions to grow stronger. Despite being the bad girl you can't help but want her to succeed on her journey.
The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
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I feel like this book has everything a Slytherin could ever want and it comes as no surprise as author Mel Salisbury is basically Slytherin headgirl herself. This book has betrayal, sin and poison and is basically darkness itself. There's also a brilliant evil queen who could give Cersei Lannister a run for her money! This book is perfect for reading under the table during potions and check out that beautiful green cover!

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian 
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If Fantasy isn't really your thing (are you sure you're a Slytherin?) then try this contemporary read about three girls who are taking names and getting revenge on those who have wronged them. This book is full of surprising twists and despite the acts of revenge getting more and more serious as the book goes on you can't help but will the girls on to claim vengeance as theirs.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo 
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Dangerous and exciting Six of Crows is the perfect Fantasy/ Heist story. Slytherin's will love (and probably relate to) this group of criminals who'll stop at nothing to pull of their heist. To be a crow you need resilience, cunning and determination - traits that I think fit perfectly with Slytherin house.

"Hufflepuff values hard work, dedication, patience, loyalty, and fair play" - Wikia

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard 
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As a Hufflepuff myself, I know how deeply we care for the people we love, especially our friends and Beautiful Broken Things portrays the special connection we have with our best friends. Caddy is incredibly loyal to Suzanne and Rosie and will do anything to help and support them even if it means putting her needs aside. Hufflepuffs will admire the strength of the friendships in this book.

Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens 
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Hazel Wong is the most Huffliest Hufflepuff I've ever come across in fiction! She's incredibly hardworking but often lets her best friend Daisy take all of the credit because she's that loyal. Besides, as long as they have time in their detecting to stop for a bun break Hazel doesn't really mind. Hufflepuffs everywhere will connect with Hazel and also salivate at all of the mentions of the lovely cakes she consumes as she goes along.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell 
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If like me you're a sucker for those sweet, selfless Hufflepuff boys then look no further than Fangirl! Levi is the ultimate Hufflepuff book boyfriend. He's kind, patient and loyal and makes my heart do all kinds of weird fluttery things. I'm a massive champion of the nice Hufflepuff guy who - let's face it -usually gets overshadowed by a charismatic Gryffindor or a sexy Slytherin so it's good to see a Puff as the love interest in the story instead of the typical sidekick best friend.

Truthwitch by Susan Dennard 
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Although I wouldn't place Safiya and Iseult in Hufflepuff house it's their epic friendship that makes this book very Hufflepuff in my mind. These two heroines have an epic friendship. They're incredibly loyal to one another and nothing can break them apart. I also like the Hufflepuff  house colour clothes that Safi is wearing on the UK cover.

"Ravenclaw values intelligence, knowledge, and wit" - Wikia

Night Owls by Jenn Bennett 
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I think that Ravenclaws will really appreciate the creative minds of these two characters. Both Jack and Bex are really into art and I think that Claws will find Bex's dream to illustrate science text books especially interesting because it's a career you don't see every day and is really fascinating to learn about as you read this book.
Geek Girl by Holly Smale 
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Harriet Manners is the most Ravenclaw character I've ever come across. She's constantly talking about all of the obscure facts she knows and is incredibly smart and enthusiastic about school and learning. The facts that Harriet shares throughout the book will really appeal to Ravenclaws and I think they'll find her geekiness very relatable.
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski 
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The Winner's Curse is an incredibly refreshing Fantasy read. Instead of a Gryffindor or Slytherin as the main character Kestrel is without doubt a Ravenclaw. Instead of using her fists she uses her brain to fight her battles. She's got a mind for politics and is incredibly bright which I think all Ravenclaws will appreciate.
The Archived by Victoria Schwab 
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This book centers around a very different sort of library where the dead rest on shelves like books. I think that Ravenclaws will be completely fascinated by this concept and will feel right at home in the library setting. Can we also take a moment to appreciate those house colours? I'd say this would be perfect to read in the library instead of doing homework but you're a Ravenclaw. Enjoy this one in your down time.

 Have you read any books that you think would be perfect for a certain Hogwarts house?

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Review for The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin 
Publisher: Mantle
Release: 11th February 2016
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"Noah is four and wants to go home. The only trouble is he's already there.

Janie's son is her world, and it breaks her heart that he has nightmares. That he's terrified of water. That he sometimes pushes her away and screams that he wants his real mother. That it's getting worse and worse and no one seems to be able to help.

In desperation, she turns to someone who might have an answer - but it may not be one she's ready to hear. It may also mean losing the one thing she loves more than anything. Noah."

The Forgetting Time is like nothing I’ve ever read before. It’s a book that doesn’t fit into one set genre and is completely and utterly unique. It’s an explosive debut that has opened my mind to a subject that I knew next to nothing about, as this is a book that looks at the possibility of reincarnation.

Noah is an incredibly troubled four year old. He’s terrified of water to the point where he won’t wash and he cries at his mother Janie that he wants to go home, he wants his real mother. But he is home and Janie is his mother.

Noah’s disturbing behaviour comes to a head when Noah starts talking about guns at school. The school give Janie an ultimatum: get Noah professional help or social services will be contacted.

Desperate for help Janie’s search leads her to Dr Anderson – a man who’s seen cases like Noah’s before, but Dr Anderson’s diagnosis is not a simple one to get on board with because Dr Anderson believes that Noah could be the reincarnation of a murdered child from years before.

Janie doesn’t know what to believe but she will do anything if it means helping her son and so Janie, Noah and Dr Anderson embark on a journey that will lead them to answer humanities biggest question, is there life after death?

I think that your enjoyment of this book really depends on how open minded you’re willing to be on the topic of reincarnation. It’s not something I believed in going into this book but I went in with an open mind and ended up being absolutely fascinated by the possibilities, so much so that I ended up researching the subject online.

In between chapters there are extracts from the non-fiction book “Life Before Life by Dr. Jim B. Tucker” that document real life cases of possible reincarnation. They were such interesting true accounts that echoed Noah’s situation and really brought the fictional aspect of this book to life.

Reincarnation aside, The Forgetting Time is a hugely enjoyable mystery that will leave you not sure what to believe. It’s also a touching story about the love a mother has for her child and how far she’s willing to go to help him. There are themes of love, family and relationships – most notably the relationship we have with ourselves as individuals and what makes us who we are.

I was completely enthralled by The Forgetting Time and still think about it now weeks after reading. It’s an impressive debut that gets you thinking outside of the box. Sharon Guskin is an author to watch.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Review for Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

Beautiful Broken Things 
by Sara Barnard
Publisher: Macmillan
Release: 11th February 2016
Genre: Contemporary, UKYA
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"I was brave 
She was reckless 
We were trouble

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie - confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne's past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realizes, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own."

Beautiful Broken Things has everything that I’ve been craving in YA Contemporary for the last few years. It’s a love story like no other between three best friends without a serious love interest in sight. Finally, a YA Contemporary has come along where the most powerful relationship is between friends. It’s a book that showcases the intensity of friendship in your teens and how it has the power to both destroy and rebuild.

The book follows Caddy, and where there’s Caddy there’s also her best friend Rosie and that’s how it’s always been. When a new school year begins, Caddy is expecting another uneventful year of getting good grades, hanging out with Rosie and meeting the expectations of her parents. Caddy’s life is safe and ordinary and she’s yet to experience a significant life event. But sometimes things happen in your life beyond your control…

When Rosie befriends beautiful and mysterious new girl Suzanne, Caddy feels like she has been replaced. Gradually the twosome becomes a threesome and it’s a hard adjustment for Caddy to make.

Suzanne is a girl with a tragic past who’s trying to make a new life for herself after suffering years of physical abuse from her stepdad. But Suzanne has a tendency to self-destruct – will Caddy and Rosie get shattered in the fallout?

For me, what made Beautiful Broken Things shine was the honest portrayal of Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne’s friendship. I could see my own friendships and experiences reflected in the three girls and that made the book a very powerful and emotional read for me. The strength of the relationships was incredibly represented as this book shows what it means to be a best friend.

My favourite friendship was between Caddy and Rosie, which may come as a surprise to those who’ve read Beautiful Broken Things because it’s probably the quietest relationship in this book but to me it was the perfect representation of true, selfless, unbreakable friendship.

The mental health aspect was also beautifully handled. Abuse and trauma are topics very close to my heart and I thought that Sara Barnard did a great job showing the mental scars that are left after the abuse has stopped. Suzanne wasn’t the most likeable character but I still felt my heart breaking for her. I also loved how this book showed what it means to be a good friend to someone with a mental illness and how best to support them.

The ending to this book left me a beautiful broken mess! I wanted to hug my best friend and tell her what she means to me (and also scream at her to read this book!) There’s also a lot of hope to the ending and a strong message about loving someone unconditionally. I’d recommend Beautiful Broken Things to fans of Jennifer Niven and Holly Bourne and to anyone looking for a different sort of story about love.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Review for Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare 
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release: 8th March 2016
Genre: Paranormal, YA
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?"

Lady Midnight is the highly anticipated first book in a brand new series set in the beloved Shadowhunter world. This book takes place a few years after the events in City of Heavenly Fire and follows the adventures of Emma Carstairs and the Blackthorn family in Los Angeles.

A lot has changed in the Shadowhunter world since the Dark War. One of the biggest changes is the Cold Peace – a new treaty between Shadowhunters and Faeries after the Seelie Queen sided with Sebastian Morgenstern against the Shadowhunters. The fae no longer have the Shadowhunters protection and their relationship with one another is uneasy.

Still seeking the truth behind what happened to her murdered parents in the Dark War, Emma Carstairs’ investigation leads to a series of new murders targeting faeries. Despite Shadowhunters being forbidden to get tangled up in affairs of the fae, Emma will stop at nothing to avenge her parents and find out who killed them – even if it means risking her own life and those she loves.

Lady Midnight felt like a very different read compared to Cassandra Clare’s previous books set in this world. This book had a lot less action and was more mystery driven. Because Lady Midnight is a massive book it did get slow in the middle and there was a lot of info dumping about what had happened in the other nine books set in this world, which although necessary for new readers, was quite tedious for this old fan.

My favourite thing about Cassie’s books are her extremely likeable and vibrant characters and Lady Midnight was no exception. There are so many brilliant new characters to get to know and fall in love with. My personal favourites are Julian, Ty, Cristina and beautiful precious Mark. We also get to catch up with some familiar faces from both The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices and see where their lives are at now which I absolutely loved reading about.

I’ve always had a lot of respect for Cassandra Clare’s casually diverse characters and that aspect is still present in Lady Midnight. This time Cassie takes a look at Shadowhunters living with autism and mental illness and how they’re treated in the Shadowhunter world. I thought that Cassandra Clare represented both conditions incredibly well and it was so interesting to read about how these characters are treated and how it echoes real world preconceptions.

As can be expected, Lady Midnight is packed full of great romances with something to offer everyone. There is so much ship potential to play around and have fun with as Cassandra offers up a plate full of the forbidden romances and LGBT relationships that she’s famous for.

Lady Midnight ends on a massive high note with shocking revelations and a stunning epilogue that makes you wonder at what’s in store for the rest of the series. With a strong cast of characters, and a plot that hints at so much more to come, I’m looking forward to joining Cassandra Clare on another adventure into the Shadowhunter world.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

Guest Post: The Story Behind Crush by Eve Ainsworth

Anyone who has followed this blog for a while will know that domestic abuse is something that is very close to my heart and I think it's so important to have more stories on this topic out there to make abuse more easily recognizable. To celebrate the publication day for Crush by Eve Ainsworth I've invited Eve on to the blog to share the story behind Crush with you today.

The Story Behind Crush by Eve Ainsworth 
Writing about an abusive teen relationship was not an easy thing to do, in fact it was one of the hardest things I’ve written so far. Almost immediately I grew to love Anna. She was a character that developed quickly within me. She is an honest, hardworking, faithful girl. She strives for more and she cares fearlessly for those around her. I’ve known girls like Anna, and I’ve known girls like Anna who have ended up in awful toxic relationships. 

At school, I remember the raw frustration of being single – I was that girl, the one that wanted a boyfriend and never had one. Yet most of my friends seemed to fall into relationships easily. Most of them were the usual up and down, first love headaches - but two of my friends had something different, they had something far more dangerous. Not that they realised that at the time. 

One girl’s boyfriend would follow her around everywhere, a permanent shadow behind her. He vetted her friends, he questioned her movements. He was never violent, but the snarl on his face and his biting comments were enough to turn my bubbly mate into a quiet, compliant wreck. My other friend had it worse. Much worse. She ended up completely isolated and afraid, hiding bruises from her family, excusing his behaviour to friends and eventually leaving school to be with him. It took several violent and degrading incidents before she finally found the strength to leave. 

I never forgot these stories, and even though these friends are safe and happy now, their faces still change when they talk of that time. They physically recoil and become quite angry. It was a bad time and they are both lucky to have got out when they did. 

Maybe I would’ve forgotten about this if it wasn’t for the job that I ended up doing. Working with teens just highlighted that none of these issues have gone away. I remember one girl – once bubbly and outgoing, who was now trapped in a toxic web. Her boyfriend had complete control of her. He checked her phone, he kept her away from her family, and if she complained – he pinched her arms and pulled her hair. 

“But he loves me,” she said, “you don’t understand.” 

But I did. I’d seen it before. And not just with my female friends. Toxic love could twist any relationship, taint any love – and I understood only too well. I understood that it needed to end. 

So, I had to write Crush. I had to tell Anna’s story and Will’s too. I needed to show how quickly abusive love can develop and the reasons why someone can chose to control another. Most importantly I wanted to show how crucial it is to break away before matters escalate. 

Because love should never, ever be about control - and if I can help one teen reader realise that, I will be very happy. 

 Crush is available to buy from all good bookshops as of today 

For more from Eve follow her on Twitter @EveAinsworth 
and check out her website

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

February Round Up and Book of the Month

February's Book of the Month is Beautiful Broken Things 
by Sara Barnard

If you follow me on Twitter then my favourite book of February won't come as a surprise to you because I've been raving about it every chance I get! So you know that post I did at the start of the month What's a Heroine without a Hero? Well this was a book without a romance which I loved, but more than that it delivered everything I've been wanting from a book about friendship and mental health. This book made me feel all of the feels and captures deep, true, unbreakable friendship so well. I'll be sharing my review for this very soon so stay tuned for more of my thoughts!

Read in February 
19.) Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik (4*)
20.) The Case of the Blue Violet by Robin Stevens (4*)
21.) You Sent Me a Letter by Lucy Dawson (3*)
22.) Our Song by Dani Atkins (5*)
23.) Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (4*)
24.) You by Caroline Kepnes (4.5*)
25.) Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard (5*)
26.) The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin (4.5*)
27.) The Little Shop of Happy Ever After by Jenny Colgan (4*)
28.) Amulet: Firelight by Kazu Kibuishi (4.5*)

Monthly Book Awards
Best Plot: The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin
Best Writing: You by Caroline Kepnes
Best Cover: Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
Best Characters: You by Caroline Kepnes
Best Ending: Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
Best Romance: Our Song by Dani Atkins
Best Friendship: Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
Most un-put-down-able: Our Song by Dani Atkins
Most Memorable: Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
Best Moral: The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

Top 3 Most Recommended Books: Beautiful Broken Things, Our Song, You

Books I’m Looking Forward to Being Released in March 
Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens
Between You and Me by Lisa Hall
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig
Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
Into the Dim by Janet B. Taylor

 What was your favourite book of February? 
 And what are you looking forward to reading in March?
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