Book Review: The Truth About Celia Frost by Paula Rawsthorne

The Truth about Celia Frost
Celia Frost is a freak. At least that's what everyone thinks. Her life is ruled by a rare disorder that means she could bleed to death from the slightest cut, confining her to a gloomy bubble of safety. No friends. No fun. No life. But when a knife attack on Celia has unexpected consequences, her mum reacts strangely. Suddenly they're on the run. Why is her mum so scared? Someone out there knows - and when they find Celia, she's going to wish the truth was a lie - A buried secret; a gripping manhunt; a dangerous deceit: what is the truth about Celia Frost? A page-turning thriller that's impossible to put down. (From Goodreads.com)

Ah...this is indeed a refreshingly new tale, certainly one I hadn't come across before. It had me gripped from beginning to end, I really had no idea where it was going. It was a book of surprises and a journey I had to travel to find out what really was The Truth About Celia Frost.

Paula Rawsthorne's writing is incredibly easy to sink into. The book starts with a shocking incident which immediately hooks the reader and from there, it's difficult to let go. Celia has a rare blood disorder and has been brought up in near isolation by her single parent mother. Having moved from school to school all through her life she's lonely and friendless; often the victim of name calling and bullying at school. When an incident gets out of hand at her new school though and her mother's reaction is to run, Celia starts wondering what really is going on. Could it be the person she's trusted to care for her all her life is the one she's at danger from?

Celia is immediately intriguing. Despite being an outcast, she's strong and questions everything constantly which adds to the mystery surrounding her illness and her mother's motives. The relationship between the two is fantastically created with Celia's doubt and anger and her mother's desperation making for very intense reading. Between Celia's story we switch narrative to Frankie, an ex cop now working as a private investigator with some questionable morals and employed by a mysterious client to find Celia. I really liked this character and could very easily imagine him. 

I also thought that Paula Rawsthorne described the setting perfectly too, with the inner London sink estate becoming just as menacing as the mystery surrounding Celia. You could feel the despair and poverty here. So it was a refreshing contrast for Celia to discover a new friend and place to escape to, an oasis in the city. I adored how we got to see Celia bloom away from her all her troubles in this section. 

I actually had no idea where this book was going to go for most of the book. What I was surprised to find was at it's heart a story about the ethics of science and just how far we are prepared to go in it's name. It's shocking and abhorrent, yet at the same time a little part of me wondered if anything like this could happen? Very thought provoking stuff. 

Overall The Truth About Celia Frost is a fantastic read. It's so different from anything I've read before, realistically portrayed and believable, thought proving and gripping. I read it in one day, I just had to know what was going on and Rawsthorne's writing was just so compelling. This is a fresh and exciting new addition to Young Adult fiction and I'm excited to see what the author comes up with next.

Heaven


Published by Usborne August 2011
Many thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review.



Waiting on Wednesday: Crossed

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine and allows us to spotlight upcoming books we are eagerly anticipating.

Crossed by Ally Condie


In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky — taken by the Society to his certain death — only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia’s quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander — who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia’s heart — change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.


Released: 1st November (US)

The first book in this series, Matched, blew me away and I instantly wanted the sequel. I can't wait to see what happens to Cassia!

Book Review: Pretty Twisted by Gina Blaxill


Pretty Twisted is the debut novel from British author, Gina Blaxill. It was published on 6th May by Macmillan Children’s Books and it is 275 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy.

Plot
Ever since fourteen year old Ros met Jonathan in a chat room online, she has had a massive crush on him. There are a few problems though. She told him she was older, showed him a picture of her sister and he has a girlfriend, Freya, who is gorgeous and probably way out of his league. Still, they get to be friends and talk to each other about everything and anything.

While Freya is away at college and the relationship with Jonathan is getting strained more and more every day, he has a bit of an identity crisis. He doesn’t know who he is without her. When Freya dumps Jonathan and goes missing, he begins to panic and doesn’t know who else to turn to for help apart from Ros, thinking she is older than she really is. Ros has problems of her own though with friends hanging around with strange, older men but Jonathan is there to help her figure out what to do. Ros and Jonathan’s lives have suddenly become intertwined in a way that they will never forget.

What I thought
Although I am really into YA contemporary novels, I am not so much into YA contemporary/ thriller novels so I was a little wary about reading this book.

Before I get to the aspects of this book that I didn’t like, which there are a few of, I will get into the good parts. The part of the book that I was expecting to like the least was that it was a thriller and actually, it turned out that it was what I enjoyed most. The idea surrounding what was happening so scarily real. Unlike some other thrillers I have read, where the plot is insane and unlikely to ever happen, this wasn’t the case with this book. People go missing all of the time and teenage girls especially and with things like this being in the media so often, it was a topic really close to home. The way the lead up to the main event was written was extremely realistic, tense and exciting all at the same time. Really, this was the only thing I truly liked about this book though.

Even though the main plot won me over, the rest, however, didn’t. Main characters, Ros and Jonathan meet online in a chat room and while this would have been current maybe 10 years ago, it isn’t really anymore. Maybe if they had met each other some other way online, it would have made for a more convincing and believable story. Also, I’m not altogether sure if a 14 year old girl who leads a quite sheltered life and seems to be pretty sensible would go and meet a guy she hadn’t even been talking to for very long. Ros was a girl who seemed to have her head screwed on so this part of the book didn’t really add up for me. However, I can see that she wanted attention and for someone to listen to her so I guess this could have been a big part of meeting Jonathan.

Ros and Jonathan, the main characters, were people I didn’t really like either unfortunately. Ros was a bit of a mixed bag. Sometimes she would act really mature and sensible for a 14 year old and then at other times, she would be a complete idiot and do something which made me want to shout at her a little bit. Jonathan was slightly better due to the fact that he was a bit more complicated than Ros. Jono had hidden depths and talents and unlike Ros, has a very distinct and interesting voice about him. He is level headed for the most part but doesn’t mind letting his emotions show and I liked this about him. Jono was interesting mostly because he isn’t like other boys in YA books. He isn’t amazingly hot with supernatural abilities. He is just a normal teenager.

While Pretty Twisted wasn’t to my own personal taste, I can see many people loving it. With a tense mystery full of suspense and a crazy friendship between two unlikely people, it has a lot to offer readers who are more into this genre of book.


Book Review: Here Lies Bridget by Paige Harbison

Bridget Duke is the uncontested ruler of her school. The meanest girl with the biggest secret insecurities. And when new girl Anna Judge arrives, things start to fall apart for Bridget: friends don't worship as attentively, teachers don't fall for her wide-eyed "who me?" look, expulsion looms ahead and the one boy she's always loved—Liam Ward—can barely even look at her anymore.
When a desperate Bridget drives too fast and crashes her car, she ends up in limbo, facing everyone she's wronged and walking a few uncomfortable miles in their shoes. Now she has only one chance to make a last impression. Though she might end up dead, she has one last shot at redemption and the chance to right the wrongs she's inflicted on the people who mean the most to her.
And Bridget's about to learn that, sometimes, saying you're sorry just isn't enough….(From Goodreads.com)


Here Lies Bridget made it onto my wishlist because of it’s seemingly similarity to Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, so I was especially happy to receive a copy from the publisher for review. Reading it proved that while there may be a vague similarity to the aforementioned book of awesome, Here Lies Bridget definitely stands up on it’s own as something different too and personally I loved it. However I think this is a book that may divide opinion and can see it being a case of either love it or loathe it, particular where main character Bridget is concerned.

What I really liked about the book was how brave Paige Harbison was in making her lead character so utterly detestable. Seriously, there’s nothing redeeming about her character at all for most of the book. She’s an all out mean girl but you know, I kind of loved to hate her. So someone who says exactly what they think without any care or tact isn’t someone you’d want to be around,  I still couldn’t help admire some of the things she had the audacity to say. Does that make me horrible? Possibly, but I guess we’ve all had situations where we’ve just wanted to say it as it is or had mean, nasty thoughts in our heads. Bridget just actually comes right out with them. And she knows she’s a bitch too. No matter how much I wouldn’t want to be friends with this girl, she was fun to read about.

I really thought Paige Harbison got Bridget’s desperation to stay top dog and most popular girl spot on, and boy was she desperate. As everything falls apart you can feel Bridget’s panic and bewilderment. While the build up to the pivotal moment in Bridget’s demise was great reading, the second part of this book where she literally has to walk a mile in the shoes of the people she’s terrorised is fantastic, I loved it. I especially liked how this doesn’t turn into soppy journey of self discovery and redemption on Bridget’s part either, there’s a little bit about why she ended up being so awful but it’s not enough to make you pity or understand her. No, we get to see the knock on effect of the others, the book becomes about the victims not the bully and I thought that was very clever. It’s almost like the contemptible Bridget is just a vehicle to get to know these other people and it’s with them that your sympathies will lie.

There were a couple of things I thought could have made the book better. Anna Judge, the mysterious new girl at school could have been better explained and expanded upon. I also thought Bridget’s relationship with her father should have been more important than it actually was portrayed. Other than that I really liked this book. If you can’t stand unlikable characters in your reading, then this is probably not for you. If you fancy something really different and enjoy a bit of loving to hate with a couple of interesting twists then I’d say give this one a go. I found it a quick enjoyable read and would certainly look out for more from this author in the future.






Published in the UK by Mira Ink June 2011
Many thanks to the publishers for sending a copy for review.

Book Review: Wuthering Hearts by Kay Woodward

Passion, the Yorkshire moors, a wild and handsome stranger . . . sound familiar?

When Robert arrives in town with his dark good looks and mysterious background, Emily has a huge crush! It’s almost enough to take her mind off this year’s school play . . . miserable, wailing Wuthering Heights.

But Robert is no prince, with his black moods and fierce temper. The beautiful untamed moors would be the perfect backdrop to their fiery romance, if only Emily could work it out.

On stage or off stage, will Emily ever be the Cathy to his Heathcliff? (from Goodreads.com)


Could a book be any cuter than Kay Woodward's Wuthering Hearts? I doubt it very much. This is the second book I've read from this author and once again I was left with a huge smile and warm fuzzy feeling inside by the end.

Like Jane Airhead before it, Wuthering Hearts takes a well known classic and makes it interesting, something you'd want to read. I can see many young people checking out the Brontës after reading these books. Wuthering Hearts isn't a retelling, but features as the school play and focus of the whole story.

Kay Woodward has a unique style of humour and wit to her writing, with some genuinely laugh out loud moments. She also captures early teenhood perfectly, with all it's worries and anxieties. Emily is such a lovely character: kind, fun with a tendency to say the wrong thing at the wrong time now and then. She's such a relatable character, so normal and someone you'd really want to be friends with at school. I really liked the budding romance in this book between Emily and the mood swinging Robert, who definitely got my sympathy when the reason for his grumpiness was revealed. It's sweet and tender, completely appropriate for pre-early teen readers who I know will adore this book.

Wuthering Hearts is a feel good, heart warming, gentle romcom and I loved it. I'd recommend this book for readers age 10-14 who will find Emily extremely relatable, the writing funny and the romance adorable. Or for those young at heart, who remember their first crush and the awkwardness which comes with a budding romance, and want a book that will leave them with a huge smile on their face.




Published by Anderson Press June 2011
Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Book Review: Small Blue Thing by S.C. Ransom


Small Blue Thing is the first book in a trilogy by S.C. Ransom. It was published by Nosy Crow on 13th January and the book is 320 pages long. It was originally written for the author’s daughter, mostly written on her Blackberry.

Plot
Seventeen year old Alex is just about to celebrate finishing her exams. While out with best friend Grace, she manages to save a swan caught up in the Thames but she ends up with more than she bargained for. When Alex finds a mysterious blue bracelet in the river, she doesn’t think it is anything more than a piece of jewellery but then she begins to see it for what it really is.

From the bracelet comes Callum. A mysterious boy who is always there whenever Alex wears the bracelet. At first Alex thinks she is going mad but realises that he is quite real, only he isn’t exactly alive. Callum has a complicated history but Alex doesn’t care, she wants to know more and to spend as much time with him as possible. Callum has secrets though and they’re about to cause a whole lot of trouble for Alex. Can she find a way to be with Callum for real or are they destined to be apart forever?

What I thought
I originally bought this book because of the beautiful cover. I couldn’t resist it when I saw it in Foyles and after seeing that it was also signed by the author, I knew I had to have it. Unfortunately, the story did not match up to the amazing cover.

The basic idea of this book was interesting and different from anything else in the YA genre that I have read before and other reason why I wanted to read it. I love to be surprised when it comes to books and was looking forward to not reading about vampires or werewolves etc for once. When it comes to this kind of thing, the YA genre doesn’t offer too much variety in its fantasy books but this is where S.C. Ransom stands out. A completely new idea was introduced and I did love the idea behind the story. Unfortunately, the idea was the most exciting part of the book. As you can see from the synopsis, some of the dead do not truly stay dead in this book and the way it was done was new and refreshing.

Just when the story began to get really interesting, it was all over in a matter of minutes. The action had been building up for a while and I was getting quite excited to see what was going to happen but it was all very rushed. The action scenes were very small and far too short. I wanted much, much more from this aspect of the book and was sad when the short amount of action was all over. I think that this was something that could have been expanded on, even if only a little more, and it would have made the book as a whole much better. This was not the only place where the story felt rushed either. The pacing as a whole throughout the book was quite uneven. There are some other events in the story which happened far too quickly for my liking but wont say what, just in case it spoils the book for anyone who does want to read it.

I really didn’t ‘buy’ Alex at all. As a main character, I think the purpose is to like her, maybe relate to her a little bit and also feel for her and the things she is going through. I felt none of this while reading this book, which was very unfortunate. My biggest gripe with Alex was the way she spoke. Small Blue Thing is told from her point of view but the narrative was far from believable. The way Alex spoke at times, the way she told the story, was outdated. I don’t know any teenagers now, nor when I was one myself, that spoke the way she did. Her language made her seem quite uptight and ‘prim and proper’ when that wasn’t really what she was like at all. I had a hard time liking Alex even after only a couple of pages due to this.

Even though I had this one major problem with Alex, she did have some redeeming moments so it isn’t all bad when it comes to her. There were a couple of moments where I absolutely loved her. Well, I loved the way she acted or reacted to different situations more than Alex herself but it was better than hating her completely. The way she reacts to one situation was amazing and I kind of wanted to applaud her for it, if only she had spoken a little more like a teenager, instead of sounding like an old woman.

I didn’t see the appeal with Callum either, which was a real shame. He was supposed to be this mysterious with lots of secrets but I just didn’t see the attraction for Alex. The only thing I could understand was the fact that he was someone she couldn’t really have, which is something I could relate to. Girls are always wanted the guys they cant have in books, which gives the basis of their appeal but that was the only really good thing about Callum. His appearance in the story was great but then it suddenly went downhill. Once he had kind of told Alex who he was, everything between the two happened quickly. Too quickly for me. The way he spoke and acted around Alex was unnatural and I just didn’t understand where he was coming from most of the time. There wasn’t that much about Callum that would have made me want him myself and there was nothing really drawing me to love this character.

I really wanted to love this book but it was such a struggle to get through it and even finish it. The only reason why I persevered with it was due to wanting to know how things would work out with Alex and Callum and their impossible situation but I wont be reading the other books in the trilogy.

Waiting On Wednesday: Velvet by Mary Hooper

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine

Velvet by Mary Hooper


Rose is a laundress in a Victorian steam laundry. With both her mother and father dead, she is an orphan and has to rely upon her own wits to make a living. The laundry is scalding, back-breaking work and Rose is desperate to create a better life for herself. Then Rose is noticed by Madame X, a famed medium, who asks Rose to come to work for her. Rose is dazzled at first by the young yet beautifully dressed and bejewelled Madame. But soon Rose realises that Madame X is not all that she says she is, and Rose's very life is in danger ...A romantic and thrillingly exciting new novel from an acclaimed and much-loved historical writer for teens. 

Published in the UK by Bloomsbury 5th September 2011

I really enjoyed Mary hoopers previous novel, Fallen Grace. I also just read and loved Alyxandra Harvey's new book, Haunting Violet, which is also set in the world of the Victorian Medium,, so am looking forward to reading more about this fascinating time.

Book Review: Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey



Violet Willoughby doesn't believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother's elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as sceptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.

Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother's scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she's known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies? (From Goodreads.com)

I’m a big fan of Alyxandra Harvey’s Vampire series, The Drake Chronicles. The second book in the series (Blood Feud) is my favourite though. I loved the historical flashbacks to the French Revolution injected between the main story, and in my review remarked that Alyx should think about writing historical when she was done with the Drakes (review here ). Little did I know she already had one in the pipeline, Haunting Violet, which went immediately on my must read list as soon as I became aware.


Haunting Violet is set in quite probably my most favourite time in history to read about, Victorian, and centres around the fascinating spiritual medium world, which was extremely popular then. So already I'm sold on this story. And it doesn't disappoint at all; Evocative of its time, eerie and spooky, genuinely mysterious and with that trademark Harvey wit and strong female lead - it's a winning combination.

I loved the character of Violet. Despite being bullied and used by her fraudulent and resentful single mother, she remains a strong character willing to fight back. She has a modern outlook while still fitting in with her era, which makes her both interesting and relatable. Compassionate (if at times grudgingly so to the ghost who desperately needs her help) and intelligent she rocks big time. I thought the plot between the two potential love interests was extremely well done, cringing at her mother’s attempts to marry her off to a wealthy gentleman and championing the underdog. There are both very funny and touching scenes in the book, captured in a style unique to this author.

The mystery was also fantastic. What can be more thrilling than a haunted country mansion and a party of nobility and gentry with a murder suspect firmly hidden amongst them. It had a kind of Agatha Christie feel to it, as in it could have been ANY of them, and it was down to the unlikely heroine to eliminate the suspects one by one. For most of the book I didn’t know who was responsible, thinking ‘aha’ several times. And while I did guess the eventual culprit a few pages before the reveal, it was still exciting and full of danger so not at all disappointing. Violet’s interactions with the ghosts she comes across range from chilling and terrifying to absolutely hilarious, so throughout the book I was either holding my breath in suspense or laughing out loud.

What I really enjoy about Alyxandra Harvey’s writing is her snappy, no nonsense and to the point approach. None of her books are particularly long, generally around 300 pages. Yet she always manages to pack so much in and it never feels as if you’ve been short changed. Haunting Violet is no different and once again the pace gallops along at an engrossing speed with no dips of concentration or loss of interest along the way. I’d highly recommend her books to the more reluctant reader or those with a shorter attention span. Impressively, she also manages to convincingly place us in Victorian England, using authentic sounding language and behaviours without overdoing it and alienating readers by being formal and heavy.

Haunting Violet is a definite success in my eyes and a book I’m only too happy to recommend. Mingling historical settings, romance, a murder mystery and a ghost with Harvey’s unique style makes it a must read for fans. I’d also recommend it to fans of Victorian historical fiction and mysteries too, in fact I can’t think of many it won’t appeal to. Verdict:








Published in the UK by Bloomsbury July 2011
Thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review.

Book Review: Passion by Lauren Kate


Passion is the third book in the Fallen series by Lauren Kate. Published by Random House, Passion has a release date of 23rd June and is 432 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC for review. 

Plot
Before Luce and Daniel had ever met at Sword and Cross school, before they had a massive showdown with the Immortals, they had shared so many previous lives with each other. Not knowing what their relationship is really all about, Luce is determined to figure it all out, by going back and witnessing these lives, and their love, for herself.

Desperate to unlock the secret that hold their relationship in a complicated curse, Luce is determined to find out what that secret is and how she goes about breaking the curse once and for all. Will delving into past lives she isn’t supposed to remember ruin what she has with Daniel, after seeing who he has been his whole life, with and without her. Surely over the span of centuries, Daniel couldn’t have always been a complete saint…could he?

What I thought
I have to start off by saying how much I HATE the cover for this book. If I hadn’t have already read the first two books in this series and gotten this one for review, I doubt I would have bought it after seeing it in a shop. The cover model is extremely underweight looking and really, looks quite ill because of it. As a YA book aimed at teens/ young adults, I don’t think the image that this book projects is very healthy for younger people to be looking at as a role model or something to aspire to. Many people don’t think that book covers really matter and it’s what the actual book is about that counts but here, I have to disagree there.

Thankfully, the story of this book does make up for the appalling cover. Due to the nature of the plot, each chapter explores a different era throughout time. As Luce travels through her past lives with Daniel, we get to see a whole range of different things and ways of life. The way each time period was described was wonderful which made it feel as though I was right there in the story with Luce, experiencing new and exciting things. Not all of the different times she visits are pleasant and actually, pretty much all of them do have bad things going on but this only added to the fact that they had been through so much together over the years, Daniel especially.

I loved hearing about the different ways in which Luce and Daniel fell in love over and over again. I am a hopeless romantic at heart so this was obviously my favourite aspect of the book. No matter what time these characters found themselves in, they would always find a way to each other and to figure out a way of being together, even if it was only for a short amount of time. I have been dying to know what past versions of Luce and the same old Daniel have been like before the present and this whole book gave me a lot of insight into the way that Daniel is and why.

While it seems as though the whole story is about Luce and Daniel’s relationship and the curse, it isn’t. There is so much more going on. Going back a long time, we finally get to see what the curse is all about and why Luce and Daniel are in the state they are in now. I have been dying for the answer to this for two books now so it was great to see this explored more. As well as questions being answered, a host of both new and existing characters are back, adding to the adventure. Bill, a guide to Luce, was my favourite of the new characters as he was so different. From his appearance, I was in two minds about him, not knowing whether or not to trust him. Bill is cheeky, mischievous and a little bit of a terror but he was also great fun to have around at times.

Passion is a fantastic third book in the series and one that was greatly needed. So much is explained and readers will get a great insight into the two main characters of the series, as well as a big chunk of back story. Of course, with a title like Passion, the book had to at least have some of that but I am glad to say, it has bucket loads. Highly recommended but only if you have read the previous books.

Book Review: Shadows On The Moon by Zoë Marriott

A powerful tale of magic, love and revenge with a strong female lead set in fairy-tale Japan; this is "Cinderella" meets "Memoirs of a Geisha". Trained in the magical art of shadow-weaving, sixteen-year-old Suzume is able to recreate herself in any form - a fabulous gift for a girl desperate to escape her past. But who is she really? Is she a girl of noble birth living under the tyranny of her mother's new husband, Lord Terayama, or a lowly drudge scraping a living in the ashes of Terayama's kitchens, or Yue, the most beautiful courtesan in the Moonlit Lands? Whatever her true identity, Suzume is destined to capture the heart of a prince - and determined to use his power to destroy Terayama. And nothing will stop her, not even love. (goodreads.com)

Why, Why Why haven’t I read any of Zoë Marriott’s previous books? This is something I intend to put right as soon as possible, because I absolutely adored her writing style in Shadows On The Moon. Described as ‘Cinderella meets Memoirs Of A Geisha’ and with a stunningly pretty cover, I was hoping for something magical from this book, and I definitely feel I got it. Set in a fantasy world reminiscent of old Japan, the book sizzles with magic and romance.

The given comparisons in the blurb are pretty huge ones, but they are absolutely valid here. I love how Zoë Marriott took the story of Cinderella and completely turned it on its head. Suzume is no meek girl waiting for her prince to come along and rescue her. There are layers upon layers to her character, shown through several identities. Everything you’d expect from a fairytale is here: Wicked step parent, badly treated heroine, handsome princes, a ball and even a fairy godmother of sorts, though they all have their very own spins from the norm. But surprisingly there’s so much more to this book than I ever expected. Amongst the fairytale there’s a story of loss, identity, self-hatred and vengeance, which makes this book utterly compelling and ensures Suzame’s story is unforgettable.

The fantastically created world is so beautiful and evocative you can almost hear the rustle of Kimono’s and smell the cherry blossom. It’s rich in detail, with sumptuous descriptions of clothing and surroundings bringing them vividly to life. One particular dancing scene towards the end is described with such detail and passion I could imagine it happening and the intensity of it made me emotional. I think this may be one of my favourite scenes ever in a book…it’s breathtaking!

Then there’s the romance. Ohhh how gorgeous this is, real old fashioned fairytale romance; dark, tortured, dangerous and passionate. It swept me off my feet. The magic I hoped for was there in abundance as we’re introduced to the mystical world of the shadow weavers. All these elements blend together seamlessly to create an epic tale, which completely blew me away. Yet amongst all the magic and romance Marriott raises the serious and relevant subject of self harm. Written with empathy and understanding I felt Marriott captured Suzama's feelings perfectly and realistically, and through these sections she sheds light on a difficult to understand topic. This really is a book with many hidden depths.

So as you can probably tell, I LOVED this book. From the very beginning Suzame’s story and Zoë Marriott’s world captivated me. I was completely lost inside this world; it wrapped itself around me as if the shadow weavers themselves had cast a spell. I know this book is one that has left a lasting impression and I’ll think of for a long time to come.





Published by Walker UK July 2011
Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.

Book Review: Defiance by Lili St. Crow

Defiance is the fourth book in the Strange Angels series by Lili St. Crow. It was published on 31st March by Quercus and the book is 304 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Plot
Everything that Dru feared has now come true. Sergej has kidnapped her best friend and only person she can fully trust, the werewulfen Graves. Without him, Dru has no idea how to cope with all of the madness going on around her and she knows she has to do something to save him, before it’s too late, no matter what everyone keeps telling her to do. The training she needs in order to be able to save Graves is supposed to take years but time is the one thing that Dru doesn’t have.

No one but Dru seems to care about what is happening and people are keeping secrets. People who she thought she could trust and people who should be caring for her aren’t looking like the best people to listen to anymore. Dru knows if she is going to save Graves, she is going to have to do it herself and defy the Order!

What I thought
Strange Angels is one of my favourite YA series and I am always excited about the next release and with Defiance, that was no exception. After how Jealousy left us with a huge cliff-hanger, I was dying to know what was going to happen.

I have said in previous reviews of this series just how much I love Dru. There are very few female characters in YA novels who kick ass as much as she does and I hope this never stops with her. In each book, Dru gets stronger and more confident in herself and I love seeing her progress each time and to watch how she deals with the bad situations she finds herself in all of the time. Unlike in the other books though, Dru opens a lot in regards to her feelings for Graves and Christophe. She has been quite closed off up until now so it was good to see a change in her and for her to finally look as though she can make a decision about one of them.

Graves has been a fantastic character throughout the series so far and he has come to one that I love. Unfortunately, due to the plot for Defiance, he isn’t around very much at all and although the plot was great, I was quite sad about this. Having Graves missing for the most part took much of the comedy out of the story and there wasn’t much more put in place of this. Because of this, Defiance has a more serious feel compared to the other books in the series and I hope the next one is lightened up a bit somehow.

Secondary characters were great in Defiance and I was very happy to see more female characters. This series, apart from Dru of course, has been quite dominated by the boys but Defiance gives a new character in Nathalie, a female werewulfen. Dru doesn’t get much company in the form of other girls so seeing the banter and friendship grow between the two was fantastic. I hope that Nathalie is someone who is going to be sticking around for the rest of the series. Also, we get to see a bit more from the Order this time around, due to Dru taking her place as leader and having to talk to them about certain decisions.

Jealousy (book 3) had a little less action that previous books but I can happily say that it is back and better than ever in Defiance. The plot is very quickly paced and there are things happening all over the place. I never really knew what was going to happen next and I couldn’t guess where the story was going half of the time. I really liked being kept guessing and having to try to figure things out every couple of chapters. Lili St. Crow writes great mystery aspects in her book and that is one of the things that I love the most about the Strange Angels series. Defiance is, by far, the best book in this series to date.

Book Review: Jealousy by Lili St. Crow

Jealousy is the third book in the Strange Angels series by Lili St. Crow. It was released by Quercus on 29th July 2010 and the book is 304 pages long.

Plot
Finally at the Prima Schola, Dru and werewolf best friend Graves think things could finally begin to settle down. The couldn’t have been more wrong!

Someone is still out to get Dru, because of who she is and what she can do but nobody seems to be doing anything about it. It’s all well and good being hidden away but if people are still able to get to her, what is the point? Graves is the only person Dru knows she can trust 100% but as they begin to grow closer, he pulls further away from her and she has no idea why. Then there is Christophe. Ever since Dru met him, she has felt a certain pull towards him but she doubts if she is able to trust him like she wants to. With two guys fighting for Dru’s affection, will she be able to pay attention long enough to survive?

What I thought
The Strange Angels series has quickly become a favourite of mine. Since reading the first book, I was hooked and I couldn’t wait to read more from Lili St. Crow. The first two books in the series were amazing so I had high hopes for this third book, Jealousy.

Dru does not disappoint again in Jealousy. I loved how much of a strong character she has been so far and didn’t want anything to come in the way of that. She is just as kick ass and determined as ever in Jealousy, if not more. Dru has been through an awful lot in the series so far but things don’t get any easier this time around, they only get worse. While trying to deal with Anna, Dru does her best to keep her mouth shut and stay out of trouble but the little remarks she says to herself are really funny and I found myself laughing a lot, which I wasn’t really expecting to do. In this book, we get to see a different side to Dru which makes her a lot more relatable. Dru shows a much more vulnerable side which hasn’t been shown before. This book shows that Dru has the same problems as any other teenager but she just has a lot more to deal with at the same time.

Graves really confused me. As much as I love him as a character, I don’t get what he is doing in this book. It has been obvious for the first two books just how much he likes Dru but then he gets a chance to take their relationship to another level, to have something amazing with her and he backs off. What the hell is that all about? I really wanted to give him a quick smack around the head and knock some sense into him because Dru is one girl he should be fighting to be with. On the other hand though, he is still the incredibly sweet and sensitive guy that I grew to love before and I was glad to see that being at this new Schola hadn’t changed him.

As much as I love Graves, I was bloody happy to finally see Christophe show up. I was awaiting his arrival throughout the whole book but it just didn’t come quick enough. I love the presence that Christophe has brought to the series so far but it was severely lacking in Jealousy. He usually provides some hot chemistry as well as witty banter between him and Dru and I really missed it this time. His absence was justified but that still didn’t make me very happy. I will be extremely sad if he isn’t around as much in the next book either! Christophe is one of my favourite characters in this series and I only want to see more from him.

The world that Lili St. Crow is unlike any other that I have read about. Although it is full of vampires and werewolves, among other creatures, it is also very real. Something which kind of bugs me a little bit is the fact that no one is ever completely normal in books, especially in the paranormal/ fantasy genre. What makes St. Crow’s characters more real than others I have read about is the fact that they do extremely normal things (in between combat training of course!). In this book, we see some characters going clothes shopping and buying things like underwear. Have you ever seen that in a book before? Also, the characters have really normal habits like doing things they shouldn’t at their age.

Due to the build up of relationships between Dru and Graves/ Christophe, I really thought that the title of the book was all about this. I couldn’t have been more wrong though. I loved the fact that even before I opened the book, the title threw me off a bit and this really isn’t what the majority of the book is about. Yes, that element is in there too but the Jealousy goes much further than a love triangle. The whole plot is fast paced with a massive amount of mystery. Although I did kind of figure out what was going on after a while, it wasn’t immediately and Jealousy really did keep me guessing. Jealousy was not my favourite book in the series but it was still damn good!

Waiting on Wednesday: Bleeding Hearts

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine and allows us to spotlight upcoming books we are eagerly anticipating.

Bleeding Hears by Alyxandra Harvey

Lucy's cousin Christabel has come to live in Violet Hill, and adjusting to the difference between life in a small mountain town and her home in the city is difficult enough. The strict curfew that Lucy's parents enforce is the worst part. Something really dangerous couldn't possibly happen in this tiny town. But Christabel has noticed some mysterious happenings, and it seems like Lucy, her boyfriend Nicholas and his brother Connor are all in on a secret that Christabel doesn't understand - one that seems deadly serious. Although she won't admit it, Christabel would love to be in on any secret with Connor Drake. But after Christabel is kidnapped by the ruthless Hel-Blar vampires, Lucy and Connor finally fill her in on all the undead drama. Together, they must find a way to stamp out the Hel-Blar for good

Released: 3rd October by Bloomsbury

I have been a massive fan of The Drake Chronicles since the first book and knowing there are still more to come makes me excited! I wonder what Alyxandra Harvey has in store for us this time.

Book Review: Betrayals by Lili St. Crow

Betrayals is the second book in the Strange Angels series by Lili St. Crow. It was published by Quercus on 4th November 2009 and it is 304 pages long.

Plot
Both of Dru Anderson’s parents are dead. She is quite homeless and her new best friend, Graves, was bitten by a werewolf. Dru isn’t exactly herself anymore either, she has only recently learned that she isn’t completely human.

The strange and mysterious but extremely handsome Christophe has packed Dru and Graves off to a Schola, to try and keep them safe. The Schola is a school for djamphir and wulfen but very rarely do they get to see one of Dru’s kind. As the only girl, day to day life is not what Dru expected, not even remotely close. Even though she tries to get through the day as best as possible, something is bugging her. Considering she is supposed to be safe now, a lot of bad things keep happening and doubt begins to kick in. In someone really after Dru at the Schola or is her mind playing tricks on her?

What I thought
After reading the first book in this series, I didn’t wait long to read this book. I was hooked and was desperate to know what was going to happen to Dru.

Betrayals begins with a prologue and although I didn’t need a recap, it was a great way of remembering what had happened in Strange Angels. Sometimes in a series, release dates between books are ages apart so if I had read these back then, I would have probably forgot what happened. It might take me a while to reading book three in this series so I am hoping that there will be a prologue there as well.

With Dru and Graves being taken to the Schola, their lives have once again been interrupted. Their situation before was far from perfect but at least they had each other and they would have managed on their own. Now, they are apart from a lot of the time and Dru spends most of her time alone. She isn’t happy about being in ‘remedial’ classes and not getting the training that she thinks she deserves, Dru is supposed to be special so why is everyone else getting more training than her? Her strength, willingness and determination really shows through during this part of the book as she never wants to back down and is prepared to fight for what she is entitled to. The fact that Dru spent so much time alone really bugged me. I understood why this happened but I didn’t agree with it at all. After being through so much already, I didn’t think that Dru deserved this solitude.

I loved Graves so much more in Betrayals, even though I liked him a lot in Strange Angels. His character develops a lot seeing as he gets a lot more time on the page. Graves becomes an integral part of the story so him being around a lot more made sense to me. As a love interest, he breaks the norm of what teenage boys are like in YA novels. Although he is always there for Dru when she needs him, he isn’t one of those boys that doesn’t leave her alone. Now at the Schola, he has made his own friends and has his own friends who are more like him. He is not dependant on Dru and she is not dependant on him so their friendship worked really well for me. Also, his friendship with Dru really blossoms and begins to turn into something more. Although this didn’t go quite as far as I had hoped, I can see something wonderful happening in the next book between them and I think that they are really perfect for each other.

I wasn’t sure about Christophe in Strange Angels but I grew to like him so much more this time around. I love a bad boy and this one has way too much mystery and confidence surrounding him that I just couldn’t resist. It was only a matter of time before I ended up falling for him a little bit. I’m still not sure if he is exactly who he says he is and the seeds of doubt placed throughout the book don’t help any but I think I am still routing for him to be genuine. As well as Christophe, there are plenty of other new characters who confused me. Whether it be teachers at the Schola or students, many people aren’t who they seem to and although some things are explained well, some aren’t. This leaves a lot open to be explained in the third book in the series and I really hope it is.

Once again, this Strange Angels novel is packed full of action. It is quickly beginning to be one of the things I love most about this series. Just when you think nothing else bad can happen, it does and it is 100 times worse than anything before it. This book was so much more exciting than the first and I couldn’t put it down at all. I was desperate to know what was really going on and what was going to happen to everyone. Betrayals was also a lot funnier than Strange Angels due to the witty conversation between Dru and a few other characters. It took the edge off of all the seriousness and for this, I was thankful. There is also a lot more mystery in this book. Secrets are being kept left, right and centre and not finding out what was going on was part of the fun!

A lot of people said they didn’t like this book in the series but I really cant see why. I completely loved it and I am desperate to know what is in store next for Dru, Graves and Christophe.

Book Review: Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

Strange Angels is the first book in the series of the same name by Lili St. Crow. It was published by Quercus on 3rd September 2009. It is 304 pages long.

Plot
The Real World is not what everyone thinks it is. It is actually a place full of ghost, vampires and werewolves, amongst other scary things. Unfortunately for Dru Anderson, she knows all too well what The Real World is all about. All her life, Dru has known about the bad things that go bump in the night. Travelling from town to town with her father, Dru has experience in how to kill these monsters. Her Dad taught her well and she has come to terms with her life.

With her Dad out on a mission that she couldn’t go on, Dru feels extremely alone. Days go by and her Dad doesn’t come back and she begins to worry. When he finally comes through the door, he has changed. He’s a zombie. Dru know what she has to do but will she be able to find the strength? If she can, what will become of her and her life?

What I thought
I am a massive fan of YA series and have a habit of reading some of the largest ones. Strange Angels, however, was a series that sipped through my radar. Once I did manage to start reading it though, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down.

I have to say, Dru was pretty awesome. I loved her from the very start and couldn’t wait to find out what she was all about. Dru has grown up in a family surrounded by hellish creatures so up until now, she has had far from an easy life and it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any easier. Having to kill (maybe not the right way to say it) her dad, Dru is put through a very emotional time. Everything she has ever known is taken away from her and she doesn’t know how to cope and this starts a path of destruction. After a few days of wallowing and feeling sorry for herself, I was glad that Dru was able to find a friend in loner, Graves.

Graves was a great character and one I grew to love over the course of the book. Yes, he was very strange to begin with but in the end, some of those weird traits that he has were what I loved the most. If you have read these books, are you wondering when the free ones are going to end? (Sorry if that doesn’t make sense to everyone else). Even though Graves was a loner and didn’t have much at all going for him, I was still quite sad to see him dragged into a world full of madness, not that Dru could have done anything to stop this from happening. He and Dru had a little bit of chemistry going on from the moment they met but nothing ever happened between them. I am hoping that this is developed on further on in the series.

Christophe was an interesting addition to the group of characters. He doesn’t seem to be all that he makes out to be though and I was left unsure about what I thought of him. I did want to like him, as he was smoking hot and has a whole lot of charm but he also seems to be hiding a lot. Christophe comes across as the nice guy, wanting to help Dru but I’m really not sure how sincere he is being. He is one of the biggest mysteries that this book left me with.

The story is built up really well. Getting to know what Dru has been through in the past helps to set the scene for what is to come. This part of the book made it possible for me to really connect with Dru and to feel for her and the things that happen around her. The whole book is built up with elements of mystery, action but it also has a softer side to it, much like Dru herself. I do love a book full of action and surprise but I also love to see that there is so much more to the characters than kicking some paranormal butt! I really enjoyed the cliff-hanger that St. Crow left me with. I am not normally one to like such open ends to a book but I didn’t mind at all this time. The ending left the story open to many possibilities for the second book and this made me excited to find out what was going to happen next.

Strange Angels was a great first book in a series and I cant wait to read more from Lili St. Crow!

Book review: Angel's Fury by Bryony Pearce


I've started to have dreams while I'm awake. I remember music I've never heard ... I've got all this extra stuff in my head, but I'm forgetting things from my own life. I feel like I'm being taken over.

Cassie Farrier has always suffered from terrifying nightmares. On a trip to Germany she recognises scenes from her dreams and finds evidence of a sixty year-old massacre. Fearing for her sanity, her family sends Cassie to a retreat where she meets others with symptoms like her own and finds out that she has lived a number of past lives.

However, the Doctor at the retreat is not what she seems. Cassie and the boy she comes to love must escape the Doctor’s influence but can they also escape the misery of their shared past?

I hadn't heard a lot about Bryony Pearce's debut novel, Angel's Fury, when it landed on my doorstep but after reading the synopsis and press release my first impression was 'wow! This sounds so good!' It seemed to offer so much packed into one book, I couldn't wait to get started. And it does have very many elements, blending paranormal, historical and psychological thriller so that even after reading I can't put it any one category.

Angel's Fury is certainly unique and combines a plot and topics I've never come across before. I'm fascinated by reincarnation and really enjoyed Bryony Pearce's spin on the subject. Cassie's dreams are interwoven into the plot, also with a first person perspective, distinguishable by italic text. These were my favourite aspects of the book, containing vivid imagery which at times is upsetting but always beautifully written and emotional. The book has quite a few surprise twists and I particularly liked the biblical references and angel mytholgy.

However, despite the brilliant premise and the very well written historical accounts, Angel's Fury just didn't quite hit the mark for me. I think the book lacked a tenseness, which in turn affected the plausibility of the story. I didn't find the villain sinister enough, and struggled to really believe in parts of the plot. I expected to be gripped with this book, but sadly I just wasn't. While I liked the character of Cassie herself (she's a free thinker from the off, brave and a little bit kick ass to boot) I thought several of the other characters also fell a little bit flat and their fascinating backgrounds should have been expanded on more. I also had a huge problem with Cassie’s feckless parents, who might just be the silliest pair I’ve come across for a long time. I really didn’t understand some of their actions.

Angel's Fury isn't a terrible book. I enjoyed parts of it very much indeed and loved the overall idea behind it. I thought the historical sections were especially well crafted, the biblical angel story clever and interesting and the way Cassie's present and past life dreams blended in and out of the story was seamless. It just didn't blow me away as much as I hoped and it all boils down to that lack of tension that moves a book from a good read to unputdownable.




Published by Egmont UK July 2011
Thanks to the publishers for providing a copy for review.

Book Review: Afterlife by Claudia Gray


Afterlife is the fourth and final book in the Evernight series by Claudia Gray. It was published on 3rd March by Harper Collins Children’s Books and the book is 364 pages long. Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

Plot
Bianca and Lucas have both become what they feared the most, a wraith and a vampire. The only place left for them to go is back to Evernight Academy but with everyone thinking she is dead, Bianca has to go back and stay under the radar.

All of his life, Lucas has been taught how to hunt and kill vampires but now he is one himself. Evernight cannot turn away a vampire in need of help and although he knows it is the only safe place for him, he has a hard time coming to terms with what he knows he must do. While at Evernight, Lucas is haunted by his own demons as well as some real ones. Bianca is the only one who can help him now but will she be able to before their relationship is destroyed forever.

What I thought
Afterlife carries on exactly from the point where Hourglass ended. I was glad to see the story be so continuous as I was worried that some time would have passed in the timelines between books but I needn’t have. The cliff-hanger which Hourglass left us with was amazing and took me breath away a little bit so Afterlife had quite a lot to live up to for me.

One of the aspects of this book which I enjoyed the most was the difficulties that Bianca and Lucas went through. I know that sounds kind of mean but it made for extremely good reading. As I said in the plot summary, both Bianca and Lucas have become the things they hate and feared the most. For Bianca, it was becoming a wraith. Her mother and father are vampires and once she found out what was really going on, it took her quite a while to come to terms with what she was going to be for the rest of her (un dead) life. Now, all of that has changed and she has to deal with being a wraith and only a select few people knowing what really happened to her.

Then there is poor Lucas. Being a member of a vampire hunting group since he was born, killing the thing he has become is the only real thing he has ever known. Now that has all been taken away, Lucas has a lot to deal with. On top of that, his girlfriend died and become a wraith and he isn’t sure how to deal with that either. Their relationship was already hard enough before him becoming a vampire and now it is about to get even harder with certain problems standing in their way. I felt really sorry for Lucas throughout the whole book and due to his circumstances, I couldn’t see any way for him to finally accept everything that was happening around him for quite some time.

At the same time as all of this going on, things at Evernight are as bad as they have always been. A large part of the plot of Afterlife is dedicated to wraiths and I loved this. There is a lot of mystery surrounding the wraiths at Evernight still and this was something which was explored earlier on in the series. I was extremely glad that Claudia Gray brought back this fantastic idea and I loved where she took it. I wont go into detail about what is happening with this though as it is one of the main big secrets of the story but I will so how exciting and shocking it was at the same time. I really didn’t see the outcome happening as it did!

As you can see, there is a lot going on in Afterlife. The beginning of the book is quite slow paced but it soon picks up once Bianca and Lucas realise what they have to do. I really liked the fact that there was always something going on but not always with just Bianca and Lucas. My only negative about this book is the lack of use of secondary characters. They each have their own things going on and I would have liked to have seen these explored a little more. A good thing though is that Balthazar is getting his own book and he has always been a favourite of mine so will be looking forward to getting my hands on a copy when it comes out. At least this way, Evernight isn’t completely over.

Afterlife was a great end to a much loved series. Sometimes, there can still be questions roaming around in my head after a series ends but Gray managed to wrap everything up really nicely. Although I do think there could have possibly been more book in this series, I think it was a good choice to end it here. The series would have maybe felt really drawn out for no reason (like House of Night) and other books would have just been published for the sake of it. Afterlife wasn’t what I was expecting it to be at all but I still really enjoyed reading the end of Bianca and Lucas’ story.
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