Friday, 30 August 2013

All Our Yesterdays (Cassandra Chronicles #1)


All Our Yesterdays (Cassandra Chronicles #1) by Cristin Terrill
Paperback, 362 pages

Published 1st August 2013 by Bloomsbury

Shelves: arc-or-review, better-than-expected, books-i-own, crime-thriller-mystery, if-i-were-a-boy, read-in-2013, really-good, sci-fi, series-or-companions, title-appeal, to-read, young-adult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

A brilliantly brain-warping thriller and a love story that leaps back and forth in time - All Our Yesterdays is an amazing first novel, perfect for fans of The Hunger Games.

Em is locked in a bare, cold cell with no comforts. Finn is in the cell next door. The Doctor is keeping them there until they tell him what he wants to know. Trouble is, what he wants to know hasn't happened yet. 

Em and Finn have a shared past, but no future unless they can find a way out. The present is torture - being kept apart, overhearing each other's anguish as the Doctor relentlessly seeks answers. There's no way back from here, to what they used to be, the world they used to know. Then Em finds a note in her cell which changes everything. It's from her future self and contains some simple but very clear instructions. Em must travel back in time to avert a tragedy that's about to unfold. Worse, she has to pursue and kill the boy she loves to change the future.


Like most people, I find the thought of being able to time travel very exciting. I like reading realistic YA Sci-Fi, so I picked All Our Yesterdays up in the hope that it would be an interesting read for me. I can only remember reading one time travel book in the past, and unfortunately it wasn't for me. Thankfully, this was a whole new experience and definitely a much more positive one!

I was really awestruck when I discovered that this was Cristin Terrill's first book - she certainly didn't give herself an easy job when writing it! All Our Yesterdays is a complex story with, to name a few things, detailed (scientific) time travelling, backward and forward thinking, multiple versions of the same characters, suspicious political activity, assassinations and even a very well written romance. Terrill has created a future where time travel is possible and a future that our main characters, Em and Finn want to destroy - though it's not fully revealed what is happening thanks to the time machine (Cassandra), it is clear that it is the cause of a very dystopian society. We learn a lot about this future and what led up to it as we progress in the book, though I feel there will be even more to discover in the next instalments! I really enjoyed learning about the history of the creation of Cassandra and it was very interesting to see how the characters dealt with the situation in the past and also how they dealt with it when they revisited that time period. 

There are three key characters in this book - Marina/Em, Finn and James. It's difficult to describe the three characters as there are two versions of each. The book is narrated by both Marina (who is in the past, writing as the present) and Em (who is in the present, travelled to the past). Em is the perfect protagonist - she has history, she is as strong as she can be, yet still has a sense of vulnerability.  At the beginning of the book, we are introduced to Em and Finn who are imprisoned in separate cells. They eventually manage to get free and travel back in time to try to attempt to stop the formation of Cassandra, the time machine. It could potentially have gotten very confusing with two of the same character moving around in the same scenes, but I can honestly say that I never felt confused - the author has managed to create a strong yet natural distinction between the past and present characters. There is romance in this book and it's romance that works very well. I initially loved the romance between Marina and James, but later I preferred reading about Em and Finn's growing friendship. I was absolutely taken in by both James and Finn for totally different reasons - they were different, but both very endearing. The romance in this book feels naturally woven in with the plot, it isn't overpowering or unrealistic - but I will warn you that at points it is definitely heart-breaking.

Despite all of the complexities, this book isn't difficult at all to follow, it is a book that will get you thinking about lots of different things and it's definitely a page-turner. One of the best things about this book is that although there was a lot of substance and facts, we were also given a whole lot of twists and turns throughout. The book wasn't predictable in the slightest but, instead, it was shocking and compelling. Don't expect to forget about this book after reading it, your mind will be kept awake, thinking and deliberating. It is the biggest mind-bender I have ever read, and it would certainly take some beating!  

Overall, this was a fantastic, fast paced book which had me intrigued right from the start. It terrifically written by a very talented author and the book, though it will be part of a series, still worked amazingly well as a stand-alone read. All Our Yesterdays deserves all of the praise that it has gained and more. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to anybody who enjoys a YA read, whether it's for the time travel concept or for the romance. I have seen one word used to describe this book over and over again - 'bittersweet' - this is definitely true. The two words I would use to describe All Our Yesterdays? Mind. Blown.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

From The Review Pile (66)

From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!

-----------------------------------
This week, I'm going to showcase Boy Meets Boy!

I actually own one of the older editions of this book (as well as this one), but seeing it again with a new, revitalised cover has reminded me that I do need to pick this up soon! I have only heard positive things about this book and I have loved the books I have read by Levithan in the past. 


Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Paperback

Published 1st August 2013 by Harper Collins



The unforgettable debut novel by co-author with John Green of Will Grayson, Will Grayson

To be together with someone for twenty years seems like an eternity. I can’t seem to manage twenty days…

How do you stay together?

Paul has been gay his whole life and he’s confident about almost everything. He doesn’t have to hide his feelings like best friend Tony or even cope with loving the wrong guy like his other best friend Joni.

But heartbreak can happen to anyone. Falling in love changes everything.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Blog Tour Stop: Undeniable



I'm happy to be able to be a part of the blog tour for Undeniable, a new book by Liz Bankes!
I can't think of anyone who doesn't like reading about irresistible men once in a while (okay, well maybe some, but hey...) and that is exactly what Liz delivered in her first book and has done once again in her latest offering, Undeniable! If you're looking for a book boyfriend, this is definitely where you'll find one!

Liz Bankes, the author of both Irresistible and Undeniable has created a quiz to help you find your ideal man from the characters in both of her books. My irresistible man is Jamie, who is yours? Take the quiz below!



Who’s your irresistible man? 

What quality do you find attractive, even though you know you probably shouldn’t?

A. Grumpiness and sarcasm
B. Cheesy jokes
C. Someone constantly making fun of me
D. The ability to beatbox
  
Who is your celeb crush/best friend?

A. Ed Westwick (as Chuck Bass)
B. Everyone in McFly
C. Harry Styles
D. Eminem

What would be your ideal date?

A. Dinner and fine wine, probably somewhere where they serve tiny food you can’t pronounce. You might be tempted to go for a midnight swim in his pool.
B. A picnic, followed by a comedy night
C. A curry in Brick Lane, followed by late-night dancing in a Shoreditch hipster bar
D. Watching a boxset and eating biscuits.


Who are your favourite fictional couple?

A. Bridget Jones and Daniel Cleaver
B. Georgia and Dave the Laugh
C. Joey and Pacey from Dawson’s Creek
D. Monica and Chandler from Friends


What is the most important thing to you in a relationship?

A. Getting to see a side of someone that no one else does
B. Making each other laugh
C. The exciting bit at the beginning where you get butterflies and anything could happen.
D. Being best friends

Mostly As: Jamie
Rich, bored, often drunk and annoyingly sexy, Jamie is bad news. Life would be a lot easier if you could just stop thinking about him…

Mostly Bs: Dan
Friendly and funny (if you ignore the cheesy jokes he makes up himself), Dan is the perfect companion for a summer job. He’s also good for picnics and kissing.

Mostly Cs: Spencer
Party boy Spencer  is all about the fun – having fun and making fun of you. But it seems like Spencer might really like you – can he be serious?

Mostly Ds: Max
He’s been your boyfriend for years, he wears his jeans too low and is prone to rapping in public. But he’s also sweet, loyal and your best friend.

Undeniable is available to purchase now!
Many thanks to both Liz Bankes and Templar for allowing me to host a stop on this blog tour.

Don't forget to check out the other stops on this tour!


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday (63)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are a replacement of The Story Siren's In My Mailbox.

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday make a place to showcase your new books,
whether you obtained them through the post or otherwise.


I received one book this week. I have been receiving postcards for a while, building up suspense which has lead to this book (Check out #GameTrilogy). I'm hoping that Game is as exciting as I predict it will be!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

From the Review Pile (65)


From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!

-----------------------------------
This week, I'm going to showcase Against All Odds!

I hosted a feature about this book some time ago and was intrigued by the whole concept of it. Whilst I don't read many self-published books, this is definitely one that I'd be willing to try! 

Against All Odds by Aliaa El Nashar
Paperback, 280 Pages

Published April 2011 by Shabab Books

The Story revolves around:

-A boy called Damien who seems to have it all. He's rich, good-looking and athletic. He's also arrogant, obnoxious and a major player. Damien is one of 5 children who seem to not get along, until one day Damien meets Alexis and his life is turned inside out.

-A girl called Alexis who has trust issues due to her parents. Her best friends mean the world to her, and she refuses to date anyone that doesn't fit completely in her 'Perfect Guy' list.

They're thrown together a lot and start to face inner demons they've hidden away for so long.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Vivian Versus The Apocalypse


Vivian Versus The Apocalypse by Katie Coyle
Paperback, 288 pages

Expected Publication 5th September 2013 by Hot Key Books

Shelves: books-i-own, young-adult, title-appeal, road-trip, realistic-fiction, read-in-2013, mental-health, lgbt-characters, cover-appeal, contemporary, apocalyptic
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

A chilling vision of a contemporary USA where the sinister Church of America is destroying lives. Our cynical protagonist, seventeen-­year-­old Vivian Apple, is awaiting the fated 'Rapture' -­ or rather the lack of it. Her evangelical parents have been in the Church's thrall for too long, and she's looking forward to getting them back. Except that when Vivian arrives home the day after the supposed 'Rapture', her parents are gone. All that is left are two holes in the ceiling...

Viv is determined to carry on as normal, but when she starts to suspect that her parents might still be alive, she realises she must uncover the truth. Joined by Peter, a boy claiming to know the real whereabouts of the Church, and Edie, a heavily pregnant Believer who has been 'left behind', they embark on a road trip across America. Encountering freak weather, roving 'Believer' gangs and a strange teenage group calling themselves the 'New Orphans', Viv soon begins to realise that the Rapture was just the beginning.


As soon as I saw the cover and title of this book, I had to know what it was about - it looked contemporary but the title sounded a bit dystopian - with those being my favourite genres, I had to investigate! I read the description and it did sound fantastic. I was curious to see how the author would put this together and I hoped that it would work out well - thankfully it did!

This isn't really like any other book that I've read and that is a fantastic thing. This is a contemporary, realistic book, but it's also apocalyptic. We're introduced to a situation where a lot of the American population have decided to follow a new religion and under the Church of America, many, but not all, of these people have disappeared in what has been known as the 'Rapture'. With Believers and non-believers left behind, a group of teenagers set out to try and discover what is really going on. Of course, there are plenty of twists and some stumbling blocks along the way which makes this book a definite page turner. There was a constant wonder in my mind as to what the Church of America really was, or what it involved. There is a lot of substance to this book and the characters also face a lot of other issues that are interwoven into the book alongside the Rapture.

I can't tell you about all of the issues - you'll have to read it for yourself - but nothing ever seems clear-cut or fully comprehensible, at least not until the end of the book. It's interesting to see how your thoughts and opinions change as the book progresses and we learn new things. The pace is consistent and there always seems to be something new to find out, making this a real page turner. There is one warning for you though - it is extremely hard to put it down! I could have happily sat and read this all in one go, it had me hooked!

The characters really helped this book to be a success. Our main character, Vivian, was really easy to connect with, she had real guts and determination but there was always that sense of vulnerability around her, which made her so real. I loved meeting her best friend, who seemed awesomely kick-ass whilst still being obviously fragile, especially due to problems within her own family. I also enjoyed reading about Edie, a pregnant Believer - it was interesting to see the differences between a Believer and the non-Believers. The character who grew on me most was Peter, the love interest to our protagonist. I was a little sceptical when we first met him, he seemed to be just thrown into the story quite randomly and I feared it would be an awful case of instant love between the two characters, but I was happily proved very wrong. The relationship between Vivian and Peter was so lovely to read about - it all felt so natural, slightly shaky (as a teenage romance can be) and both characters bonded in such a gradual, loving way. Their romance somehow felt intricate, it felt precious and a lot deeper than a lot of other YA romances - perhaps due to the problems they both faced and the conflicts that arose. I would have loved to read more about Vivian and Peter - I don't know if there will be a follow on to this book, but if there was, I wouldn't hesitate to pick it up.

Vivian Versus The Apocalypse has been one of my top summer reads of 2013 and will be a highlight of the books I have read throughout the year due to the fantastic writing and the compelling, refreshing plot idea. Katie Coyle has already won the Hot Key Books Young Writers Prize for this book and I truly hope that she wins more - she is clearly extremely talented and I think her writing rivals that of some of the current top YA authors. I will be recommending this to anyone I can!


Thursday, 15 August 2013

From The Review Pile (64)


From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!

-----------------------------------
This week, I'm going to showcase Stray!

When I was first introduced to this book I was unsure whether or not that this sounded like my sort of book, but I decided it was certainly worth trying as it does sound pretty awesome! Unfortunately I'm still yet to get around to reading this one, but it will be interesting to see how it goes. 


Stray by Monica Hesse
Paperback, 352 Pages

Published 6th June by Hot Key Books


Lona Sixteen Always is not herself - quite literally. She lives her life virtually through the experiences of Julian, a boy who was chosen as a role model for the Pathers of Quadrant 1 - troubled children who have been 'rescued' by the government and put 'on-Path'. But one day Lona finds she can think for herself. And on top of that, the face of a familiar boy appears on her screen - Fenn, who she thought had moved on to a different stage of the Path last year. But he didn't. Fenn and other rebels like him have strayed from the Path, and now Lona must stray too. But life off-Path is strange and difficult, and Lona uncovers a secret that will threaten all their lives. Can there really be life after the Path?

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Brock


Brock by Anthony McGowan
Paperback, 288 pages

Published 72th June 2013 by Barrington Stoke

Shelves: books-i-own, young-adult,  read-in-2013
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

A bleakly poetic tale about one boy's determination to save a badger cub from the destructive hands of a local gang. When Nicky finds Jezbo and his gang digging up a badger set, there's not a lot he can do to save them. But one badger cub has escaped - can Nicky save it? Another stunning and moving novella in the spirit of Kes from award-winning Anthony McGowan. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant and dyslexic readers of 12+


Brock was a book that I was sent for review, but I was unsure whether I would be able to read it. Whilst I was definitely intrigued by the description of the book, it also features one of the issues I find hardest to stomach - the abuse of animals. As I saw several people were beginning to pick up and read Brock, I thought it was time for me to be brave and see what the book had to offer.

This is a book that is designed for reluctant readers, or readers with dyslexia in particular - I'm not dyslexic nor reluctant, but I can definitely appreciate the idea, it is fantastic. This is a book that could appeal to anyone (12+) looking for a short read - I can imagine it being great for a quick read when travelling. I was a little concerned that because this was a short book that the quality would suffer, but it didn't. I liked McGowan's writing - it was straight to the point and he didn't shy away from modern teenage problems. There is no holding back as McGowan deals with these issues, however, he somehow also makes it bearable to read - it wasn't so violently graphic that it made me have to put the book down, but it did make an impact. This definitely isn't easy to do, but McGowan did a good job of it. The concise nature of the book did mean that the Brock was a page turner with a very consistent, exciting pace which I never got bored with. 

Whilst I don't feel as though the quality of the writing suffered because of the shortness of the book, the book did lack a certain depth which I appreciate whilst reading, and this is the real reason why I haven't given a higher star rating to this book. What we were given was well done - there were several characters that we were introduced to and they all were strong individuals dealing with some serious issues. I enjoyed meeting our main character, Nicky, and it was reasonably easy to connect with him. I admire McGowan's ability to put so much emotion into his story without getting too 'heavy'. There were some definite displays of fragility and some very heart-warming scenes in this book.

Overall, Brock was a great quick read that I would recommend to any young adult. McGowan is a good writer who doesn't waste any words and I would certainly read more by him, whether it was another shorter story or a deeper novel.  I love the idea of these novellas and I would definitely recommend Barrington Stoke books to those who are having any sort of difficulty with reading.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday (62)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are a replacement of The Story Siren's In My Mailbox.

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday make a place to showcase your new books,
whether you obtained them through the post or otherwise.








I received a fantastic haul of books this week, one adult book,  two young adult books and an array of new adult books! I am going to start reading Another Way to Fall straight away because it sounds like it could be amazing. I haven't read much new adult, but I have liked what I have read, so I'm looking forward to trying out some more. The new adult books I received were  Undeniable, Wait For You, Rule and The Edge of Never. I also received two books by David Levithan - Boy Meets Boy and Are We There Yet?


I also bagged myself a brand new hardback of Eloise for £1! 
It really sounds like something I'd enjoy.

I hope you all have a great weekend!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday (63)


Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are a replacement of The Story Siren's In My Mailbox.

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday make a place to showcase your new books,
whether you obtained them through the post or otherwise.


I received one book through the post this week! A brand new, finished copy of The Killing Woods arrived yesterday, wrapped in a very shiny gold envelope! I have read one book by Lucy Christopher before, Stolen, and really enjoyed it, so I hope this one will be just as good!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

From The Review Pile (63)


From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!

-----------------------------------
This week, I'm going to showcase By My Side!

I have been leaning towards adult fiction rather than young adult for a couple of weeks and this book in particular has caught my eye - it's a book I've received for review and I think that when I do get the time to read it, I will really enjoy it.


By My Side by Alice Peterson
Paperback, 376 Pages

Expected Publication: 18th July by Quercus

One step can change everything… 

Cass Brooks loves her job, her boyfriend Sean, her life. Until, leaving home one morning, distracted and hungover, she steps into the path of a truck. 

When she wakes up, she can’t walk. And suddenly all her hopes and dreams, the plans she’d made with Sean, the future she thought she’d have, seem out of her reach. 

But then fate intervenes again. Cass meets Ticket, a loyal golden Labrador who refuses to leave her side. And on a flight to Colorado, she sits next to Charlie, who believes he can show her a life full of possibilities, if only she’ll let him. 

Cass wants her life back the way it was. Charlie knows this cannot be. Yet a future beckons all the same...

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Quest for Juice (Paranoia #1)


The Quest for Juice (Paranoia #1) by Jonathan-David Jackson
Paperback, 468 pages

Published 10th June 2013 by Kipling Books

Shelves: adult-fiction, arc-or-review, awful-cover, better-than-expected, books-i-own, if-i-were-a-boy, lasting-impression, mental-health, read, read-in-2013, realistic-fiction, really-good
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

Oscar has always lived a life of quiet paranoia, but now everything is changing. Suddenly, the bus is frequently late, his housekey won't fit in the lock, and someone has taken his juice, which was the one thing holding his life together. He strikes back against the people behind it all, but when he strikes too hard an innocent man ends up dead, and Oscar ends up in jail, diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and facing life in a mental institution. On his journey to mental health and the truth, he has to make hard decisions about medication, trusting his own mind, dating a nurse, and whether that hedgehog can actually talk.


Though I've been very firm with myself lately and told myself to restrict my acceptance of books for review, there are certain books that are going to make me give in - The Quest for Juice is a book that I simply couldn't resist and accepted as soon as I read the idea behind it. If you know me, you'll know that I'm interested in anything and everything mental-health related and so when I was offered a book about a paranoid schizophrenic in a mental institution, how could I say no?

I have to admit that I am not one to pick up self-published or books that haven't been published by a big name publisher, so in that respect, this was a first for me. I am wholeheartedly glad that I gave this book a chance - the quality of this book, the writing, the plot, the structure was fantastic - it's so clear that Jackson is a talented writer and I am sure that a lot of others would agree. Jackson's writing seems so fresh and it really is captivating. His style of writing really helped to bring his protagonist, Oscar to life. Despite his irrational behaviours and thoughts, I managed to connect with him and Jackson helped us to understand why Oscar had these thoughts. Throughout parts of the book, I actually found myself wondering if Oscar was right in his thinking (a lot of us are captured on CCTV monitoring everyday...) or not. Jackson really is a clever, cunning writer who makes you think. 

Oscar was such a fantastic character to read about. As I've said, he was easy to connect with and despite his issues, he was also a very kind and (often unintentionally) funny man. The Quest for Juice claims to be 'darkly comic' and it is, in the best sort of way. Going through Oscar's situation could make you either laugh or cry and thankfully, Jackson helps us to find the humour in the situation. I am not usually a fan of footnotes in books, but they definitely worked in this case, breaking the book up with Oscar's often comical comments. This is a wittily funny book. Looking back, the story seemed like a bit of a farce (in a good way!), whilst at the time actually being very 'normal' in Oscar's eyes.

Naturally with his condition, Oscar has a hard time with friendships and romantic relationships, both of which are explored in this book. I really enjoyed reading about Oscar's relationships and watching as both his thoughts and trust changed when he was taking medication. As aforementioned, Jackson is a clever writer - I also started assessing people in this book as Oscar did, should he really trust them, or the medication that they are giving him? I don't know if this is because I am a naturally anxious, somewhat paranoid person, but I was really swayed into Oscar's way of thinking at some points, whilst at the same time, laughing at the irrationality of it all.

In our politically correct era, perhaps a few people could potentially be offended by this book, but I will happily admit that I found it very funny. This isn't a factual book - it's a piece of comic fiction and it does what it is meant to - it engages the reader and makes you smile as you turn the pages. Paranoid schizophrenia and mental illnesses in general are very real problems and they should certainly be talked about on a serious level, but I actually like this take on mental illness because it doesn't take itself too seriously. 

It takes something really special for me to give a book a five star review, but by the end of the first chapter, I knew that this book would be getting full marks from me. The Quest for Juice is a truly captivating, intriguing book with such brilliant writing that had me hooked from the first pages. I  truly can't wait to see Jackson's next offering - accepting another book from this author is something that I certainly wouldn't have to think about twice! Highly recommended for adults and older YA readers. The Quest for Juice is a hidden gem... seek it out!


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