Saturday 28 September 2013

This Song Will Save Your Life review

This Song Will Save Your Life
Leila Sales
10th October 2013
Macmillan Children's Books

Making friends has never been Elise Dembowski’s strong suit. All throughout her life, she’s been the butt of every joke and the outsider in every conversation. When a final attempt at popularity fails, Elise nearly gives up. Then she stumbles upon a warehouse party where she meets Vicky, a girl in a band who accepts her; Char, a cute, yet mysterious disc jockey; Pippa, a carefree spirit from England; and most importantly, a love for DJing.

Told in a refreshingly genuine and laugh-out-loud funny voice, THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE is an exuberant novel about identity, friendship, and the power of music to bring people together.

It was probably kind of inevitable that I was going to love This Song Will Save Your Life. I love contemporary books, and I love them even more when they're about music and I love them even even more when they're about the kind of music that I like, and when that music is saving people's lives. So yeah. There was no way I was not going to like this book.

This Song Will Save Your Life did surprise me sometimes, though. I won't go into massive detail because I don't want to spoil it (not that there are loads of major twists and stuff to spoil because there isn't really, but I want to keep the mystery alive so that you all pick this book up and read it). I really liked the romance aspect to this book, because it wasn't like the romance I'm used to in contemporary (not a criticism on other contemps, by the way. I love that stuff) probably because it was less about a boy than it was about the music and DJing and Elise learning to love herself for who she is than constantly trying to change herself into someone she isn't and someone who she struggles to pretend to be.

I really loved Elise. There will probably be people who don't like her, but I feel like a lot of the people who read this book will be the sort of people who can see where Elise is coming from and relate to her a lot. She's a girl who doesn't fit, who hasn't ever really fit in and when we meet her at the start of the book, she's been trying really hard over the summer to sort of tone herself down and change herself to try and fit in a little bit. Her attempts don't really work, though, and she's sort of in a kind of dark place. All she really wants is a friend, which, after a while, she does sort of find at school in these two girls called Sally and Chava who are less popular than she is (I sort of love Sally and Chava). Really, though, all the action starts when she first comes across Start, an Indie nightclub during a walk in the middle of the night. It is here that she meets Vicky, and where she starts to figure out that she really loves DJing.

So yeah, I really liked her growth as a character. It's a personal journey that I think a lot of people can relate to, even if it wasn't exactly the same as Elise's. She was just really real and I was so happy for her  by the end. And I really loved Vicky and Mel, too. Vicky is one of the girls that Elise meets at Start who is in a really great band called the Dirty Curtains (who I want to be a real band) and who becomes friends with Elise and their friendship is great and she's awesome. And Mel is the bouncer at start. He is also awesome. The only characters I didn't really like were Pippa and Char, but they were still really great characters, and they were all so real. 

I can't really explain what else I loved about this book, I just really, really did love it. It was probably just the music thing (and I really, really do love books about music. Really. Please write loads of them. All the time.) But it just really struck a chord with me (pun totally intended) and it was just what I needed to read and I kind of want there to be a film of it because how great would that soundtrack be. Seriously, that soundtrack would be awesome.

Yeah. So, I don't know if I quite got the message across, but This Song Will Safe Your Life is pretty much the perfect book for me, and I hope it's the perfect book for you too. It's great. The music in it is great. The characters are great. I know nothing about DJing, but that was great too. It's just a good book. I'm going to go and read Leila Sales's other books now.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

The Dream Thieves review

The Dream Thieves
Maggie Stiefvater
18th September 2013
Scholastic UK

The second installment in the all-new series from the masterful, #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater!

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater have been woken, nothing for Ronan, Gansey, Blue, and Adam will be the same. Ronan, for one, is falling more and more deeply into his dreams, and his dreams are intruding more and more into waking life. Meanwhile, some very sinister people are looking for some of the same pieces of the Cabeswater puzzle that Gansey is after…

I don't want to speak too soon, but I think I may have a new favourite Maggie Stiefvater book. The Dream Thieves was just brilliant. Usually I find that second books are not always as good as the first, but The Dream Thieves was, in my opinion, better than The Raven Boys. And I think that the next two books (I think it's a quartet?) will just keep on getting better. I really love these books, and I really love Maggie Stiefvater. I think she's probably one of the best YA writers out there, and all of her books are wonderfully different, both from each other, and from what else is out there. I hope she carries on writing books FOREVER. 

As many people have already said, The Dream Thieves is definitely Ronan's book. There's lots about the search for Glendower and all the other characters, too, but a lot of the focus was on Ronan and his ability. Lucky for me, Ronan is one of my favourite characters, which may be why I liked this book so much. (Though really they're all my favourites. Apart from Adam, maybe. Like, I like Adam and he's a really interesting character, but I don't care about him in the same way that I care about the others. Which is probably really bad considering his background and stuff. I'm going to stop now.) So yeah, I really liked reading about Ronan and finding out more about his family, and finally getting to meet his other brother Matthew, who is adorable, and who even Ronan loves. And I'm really looking forward to seeing how all this has changed him in the next book ('all this' meaning everything that happened in this book), and finding out a little bit more about him, because some things were implied at the end and I want to know if my speculations are right or not.

One of my other favourite things about The Dream Thieves was probably the two new characters - Kavinsky and the Gray Man. Kavinsky was a huge dick, and on the one hand I really didn't like him, but on the other hand he was a lot of fun and was pretty central to most of the stuff that happened with Ronan. Kavinsky is another Aglionby student, by the way. And the Gray Man is a hit man who has a thing with Blue's mother, Maura, and it was kind of sweet, despite the fact that he's kind of scary? I really like him though. I hope he sticks around for a while.

Probably my favourite, favourite things about these books, though, apart from the characters, is the fact that it doesn't feel like any other book or series that I've read, and I really love the fact that it's a great melding of Celtic history and modern America. And let me tell you you don't really get that many YA books about Celtic history, especially written by Americans, so The Raven Boys series is a treasure in that respect. And it's just such a good book, in, like, all respects. The Dream Thieves is beautifully written, like all of Maggie's other books, it's really tightly plotted, and even though the pacing is slow, it's a good kind of slow. The Dream Thieves is not all about the action. It's a bit about the action, but mostly it's just weaving its way through many different plotlines and characters and fitting them all together and making them work and then having a masterfully cruel ending which leaves you wanting to hibernate until the next book comes out. Usually, I sort of forget about a series a few days after reading a book in it, even if it has got a cliffhanger ending, but I only read The Raven Boys in June and even the wait from them until now has been pretty horrible. I JUST WANT THE ANSWERSSSS.

Also I really want one of the books to be about Blue predominantly. I know the first book was kind of about her, but I feel like the first book was half setting up the story and all the characters, and half Adam's book because of all the major events that happened to him and affected his life in it. But Blue is, like, my favourite, so that may be why. And her family. I'm pretty sure that Maggie could just write a whole book that was just Blue and her family bantering and generally being psychic and we would all read it and love it. I don't know how she's managed to make me so attached to so many characters in only two books, but I can't bear the thought of anything bad happening to any of them, ever. Even Noah, even though he's technically already dead. But I'm pretty sure that with a cast of characters this big, one of them is going to die. Probably. (Please don't let me be right).

Anyway. The Dream Thieves was brilliant. Maggie is brilliant. This whole series is brilliant. I really can't recommend them enough. Seriously, if I had to recommend a series to a person who was stalwart against reading YA, it would probably be this one. I don't know why. They're just SO GOOOD.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Letterbox Love #40

Letterbox Love is the UK's version of IMM, hosted by the lovely Lynsey at Narratively Speaking :)

For review:

World After by Susan Ee (I wasn't hugely in love with Angelfall, but I'm still looking forward to reading this and finding out what happens next. Thank you Hodder!)
This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales (I am really excited about this! I'm hoping it'll help to pass the time until I can get my grubby little hands on a copy of Fangirl. Thank you Macmillan!)

That's all for me this week! What did you get? 

Saturday 21 September 2013

Briar Rose review

Briar Rose
Jana Oliver
12th September 2013
Macmillan Children's Books

A dark and sexy reimagining of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale from the author of THE DEMON TRAPPERS.

For Briar Rose, life is anything but a fairy tale. She's stuck in a small town in deepest Georgia with parents who won't let her out of their sight, a bunch of small-minded, gossiping neighbours and an evil ex who's spreading nasty rumours about what she may or may not have done in the back of his car. She's tired of it all, so when, on her sixteenth birthday, her parents tell her that she is cursed and will go to sleep for a hundred years when the clock strikes midnight, she's actually kind of glad to leave it all behind. She says her goodbyes, lies down, and closes her eyes . . . And then she wakes up. Cold, alone and in the middle of the darkest, most twisted fairy tale she could ever have dreamed of. Now Briar must fight her way out of the story that has been created for her, but she can't do it alone. She never believed in handsome princes, but now she's met one her only chance is to put her life in his hands, or there will be no happy ever after and no waking up.

Briar Rose felt like a bit of a disappointment to be, I won't lie. I've not read the whole of The Demon Trappers, but from what I had read of Jana Oliver's I had really liked, so I was looking forward to reading Briar Rose a lot. Sadly, it just didn't really work for me.

It isn't like it's a bad book or anything, it's just that it felt like it was bit confused and didn't really know what it was or what it wanted to be and I didn't really like the romance aspect (surprise, surprise) and it didn't really feel as much like a fairy tale retelling in the way that I would have liked it to be. I think that the blurb is wrong in calling it dark and sexy, because I don't personally feel like it was either of those things.

Briar Rose is like half YA Southern Gothic and half fantasy which is kind of why I was so looking forward to reading it! I love both of those genres so you'd think that you couldn't go wrong putting them together, but the two halves felt so different from each other, they just didn't gel, which was a huge shame. One the one hand, there was a lot of like dark magic and Georgia heat and spirits and curses, and the suddenly there's a fantasy village with and evil ruler who has like powers over metal and it was like reading 2 different books and I just wish it had stuck with either one or the other because the two different worlds just didn't mesh that well.

There was also this kind of forced family feud between Briar and Josh's (the two main characters) families, and also this kind of forced romance between the two of them and I wasn't really invested in either of them. If anything, it just got on my nerves. It probably would have been less annoying to me if I actually properly liked either of the characters. Not that I actively disliked either of them, but I did think that they were boring and I just wasn't really that bothered about them? I feel like I'm being really harsh now, but I was just really disappointed by Briar Rose.

I thought that the first half was really good. For the first 100 pages or so I was really into it, but as soon as Briar went into the dream world, I wasn't as into it and after that it was a bit of a push to finish it. I didn't really like the ending that much either. It felt like it was trying to hard to sum up all of it's plot threads, but it came across as being a bit jumbled and I would have preferred it if there had just been one main setting and all that.

I did like some of the side characters like Reena, Pat and Ruric, who added a bit of humour and ultimately made the book more interesting, and some aspects of the Sleeping Beauty in Briar's dream/curse/thing were unexpected and cool, and I really do hate to be so overwhelmingly negative about a book because I didn't hate it, but Briar Rose, for me, was so hit and miss and ultimately disappointing that I don't really know what else to say about it. Though I will say that if you still are interested in reading this, read some other more positive reviews as well. This is just my opinion and I don't want to come across as being mean.

*PS I promise that I will try harder to write more reviews but I'm still just falling into routine after starting college again and I've not been reading too much so just give me a few weeks. And I'll try and make them better and less mixed up and repetitive than this one. Thanks!

Sunday 15 September 2013

Letterbox Love #39

Letterbox Love is the UK's version of IMM, hosted by the lovely Lynsey at Narratively Speaking :)

For review:
Shine by Candy Courlay (I haven't heard much about this book, but it looks really sweet and I like the cover a lot. Thanks Random House!)
The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (AHHHH. I loved the Raven Boys a lot so I am really excited about reading The Dream Thieves. Thank you so much Scholastic!)
Hurt by Tabitha Suzuma (Also really looking forward to this. Tabitha Suzuma is amazing and I'm sure this book will break my little heart. Thanks again, Random House!)

Also, winner! The winner of the United We Spy giveaway is:




Awesome. So what did you get in your letterbox this week? :)

Thursday 12 September 2013

Three Years!

Hello! Just thought I'd drop in on this fine Friday the 13th to say that it's now officially been three years since I started this fair old blog. That feels like a really long time for me Usually two years is the point at which I start to give up on things, so I think I can count this blog as a personal success. And I thought I should do something to commemorate it seeing as I completely forgot last year.. Whoops. No giveaways or anything, though, sorry... I would love to be able to give something proper back to all of you lovely people, but I can't. Maybe next year, though! (if I remember...)

So instead, I thought I'd just do a sentimental, Oscar speech-esque thank you post because that seems like the appropriate (and slightly douchey) thing to do.

Thank you to the blogging community, especially the UK lot, for making me feel welcome and at home in the blogosphere, and for not running away if we met in real life (what with my frizzy hair and stupid t-shirts and face and scruffy jeans and awkwardness and overenthusiastic mother). Thanks for not making me feel lame and annoying. It means a lot. Also, you're all really cool, great people, and I feel really lucky to know you :)

Thank you, publishers and publicists, for similar reasons, but also (fairly obviously) for sending me books. I don't know if you quite got the message over the past three years, but I *quite* like books. I don't like to make a big deal of it or anything, but y'know... ;)

Thank you, authors, for writing books that make me want to write about them. Thanks for writing books, full stop. Books change lives. What you do is amazing, whatever kind of books you write. Please don't stop.

Thank you to the beautiful readers of my blog. It's nice to know that people are reading and are at the very least mildly interested in what this 17 year old has to say about books 'n' stuff.

Thank you, Legend of Korra, for premiering your second season on this most auspicious of days.

Well, not only was that cheesy and pretentious, it was also a lot shorter than I thought it would be. In my head, this was going to be a really nice post. Clearly, I didn't really give it as much thought as I should have done. Oh well. 

(But seriously, thank you loads and loads and loads it really means a lot. I never thought that I when I started blogging it would end up meaning this much to me, but it's become a really big part of my life and it's probably one of the better things I've decided to do. I've been through a lot of blogging funks lately, and I don't think that'll stop anytime soon because I've reached that part of my life where I'm probably going to be busy until I, like, retire, but I always come back. Sometimes I think about shutting the whole thing down, but I just can't. It'd be all wrong. So, you know, thanks. Again.)


Friday 6 September 2013

United We Spy Blog Tour - The End! (Plus a Giveaway!)

The end of the blog tour, and the series, that is. Though this post isn't actually about The End. It's about Rachel Morgan and Joe Solomon, professional badasses and all around great people and spies. I was really excited to be given the opportunity to talk about two of my favourite characters in the series (though, let's face it, they're all my favourite.) And, if me talking about Mama Morgan and Joe doesn't appeal to you all that much, there will be a giveaway for a copy of United We Spy, too! Trust me when I say that you want this book. You really want this book.

Cammie Morgan has lost her father and her memory, but in the heart-pounding conclusion to the best-selling Gallagher Girls series, she finds her greatest mission yet. Cammie and her friends finally know why the terrorist organization called the Circle of Cavan has been hunting her. Now the spy girls and Zach must track down the Circle’s elite members to stop them before they implement a master plan that will change Cammie—and her country—forever.

Now, as you may or may not know, I am a big fan of parents in YA, and Rachel Morgan - mother of our very own Cammie - is one of my favourites. Head of the Gallagher Academy, brilliant spy and caring, loving mother, she's pretty much amazing. 

I love the fact that even though she is this great spy and sometimes she has to go off in order to protect the people she loves, or just to do spy stuff, she still makes time for her and Cammie to eat dinner together sometimes or just to talk, just to be there for each other after all the things that happen. Ever since what happened to Cammie's dad, they've been all each other has and there is a really strong family bond there that makes itself apparent in every book in the Gallagher Girls series. 

Then there's also Joe Solomon, the new CoveOps teacher in the first book, whose role in the story grew a lot from just being their hot new (old enough to be their parent) teacher. He had been best friends with Cammie's dad and promised to protect his family should anything happen to him. He's also involved with Zach (gorgeous, funny, caring, secretive spy boy) and their relationship is another one of the one's that I really love in this series (and no, it's not that kind of relationship). He's like a father to Zach sometimes, and sometimes he's like a father to Cammie, too, though he never tries to push too far to replace her real father, especially since he knew him. Sometimes he keeps secrets that make him out to look like the bad guy, but he's always trying to do stuff for the best, really. He's a good guy, that Joe Solomon. A good man, indeed.

I'm really annoyed, actually, because in my mind I had planned loads of amazing stuff to write about these characters and this is all I'm coming up with and I'm not doing them justice, but you just need to know that they really are great. They are more than I am making them out to be, even if they're not the main characters. The worst thing about United We Spy was the fact that there wasn't enough Rachel and Joe in it (for me.) I love them a lot. I love all of the characters a lot. I love the books a lot, and I have mixed feelings about them ending, but I am so glad that they exist, and that I was forced into reading them because it is now one of my favourite series and Ally Carter is one of my favourite authors and they're just so great and I've completely gone of the point so I'm going to stop now and post some quotes before I get all weird and sentimental.

(I was going to put some quotes here because it seemed like the apt thing to do but there are hardly any! All the internet cares about are Zach and Cammie and the funny bits. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love those parts too are reading through lists of quotes make me want to reread the books realllly badly, but it's annoying when you're looking for quotes of the many beautiful mother-daughter moments, or the sharp stuff that Rachel and Joe say (because the books have lots of both of those things, but clearly the internet does not giveth a shit.))

Anyhooooo! Giveaway time! Who wants a copy of United We Spy? I don't think it even matters if you've read the other books. It can be the motivation for you to start reading this WONDERFUL SERIES. (though I think it'd be nicer if it did go to someone who desperately wanted it, obviously.)

The only terms and conditions are that you live in the UK as this prize is being provided by the publisher :) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Well, that's it really. I hope you've enjoyed the blog tour - I definitely have :)

Thursday 5 September 2013

United We Spy review

United We Spy 
Ally Carter
September 5th 2013
Orchard Books

Cammie Morgan has lost her father and her memory, but in the heart-pounding conclusion to the best-selling Gallagher Girls series, she finds her greatest mission yet. Cammie and her friends finally know why the terrorist organization called the Circle of Cavan has been hunting her. Now the spy girls and Zach must track down the Circle’s elite members to stop them before they implement a master plan that will change Cammie—and her country—forever.

(A list by Cicely Wynne)

PRO: Cammie taking the initiative to go after the Circle and being her most badass spy self.
CON: It's the last book.
PRO: Liz, Bex, Macie and Zach being there for Cammie and sisterhood and kissing and everything you want in a final book in a series about spies.
CON: It's the last book.
PRO: Two of the best prison breaks in YA history.

Okay, enough with the lists. Clearly, I don't have the same list-making skill that Cammie possesses. It must be spy school thing. 

United We Spy is everything that I wanted it to be. It was somehow even more action-packed and exciting than it's predecessor, even more emotional, even more tense and dangerous, even more everything really, I guess is what I am trying to say. I loved it, and I couldn't have asked for a better ending than this book.

There is something so compulsively readable about these books that I can't really explain. The time just flies by when you're reading them and you just cannot stop until you have reached the end. There is always so much happening, whether it be crazy spy drama or teen emotional drama or some beautiful mixture of both that you find yourself at the end of the book before you even realise it. And when you're finished, you just want to immediately start reading the next one because you get so attached to the characters and you're just desperate to find out what happens next in the story. Of course, this is the final book, so there will be no next book which why I am suddenly overcome by the desire to reread them all at this very moment (but I am not going to, because I have a review to finish, goddammit!). However, I've already made up my own headcanon about what happens after the ending and I'm sticking to it, and no, I'm not going to bother saying what it is because I do NOT want to spoil the ending for you!

I could spend another paragraph talking about how much I love the characters in these books, but I am not going to because I have done that in every other review for books in this series and it's just going to be the same old fangirlishness that you got back then, so there wouldn't really be much of a point (but I really do love all of them. ALL of them. Apart from the ones that I don't like. But Cammie, Bex, Liz, Macey, Zach, Rachel, Joe, Abby, Townsend, all of those guys.) What I will  say, though, is that I love the fact that there is such a sense of sisterhood in these books. Being a student of the Gallagher Academy, being a Gallagher Girl, makes you a part of the sisterhood that will continue to be a part of you for life, and I love the fact that there are so many positive female friendships in this series, and that there is no Mean Girl or any bullies at this school. It is not a hive for bitchiness like some books about boarding schools or girls schools would have you believe (though I'm not denying that that isn't what they're like in real life). They have each other's backs. They're there for each other. There needs to be more of this please. Also, I kind of like that the romance comes third after being a spy and best friendship. It sounds lame when I put it like that, but it works in the books. The balance between all three of those things is perfect, in my opinion.

You know, I've written all this stuff but none of it is actually about United We Spy itself, just about the series is general. Maybe it's because I'm feeling sentimental. I don't know. But what I will say about United We Spy (without spoiling anything and repeating what I've already said) is that it kind of exceeded my expectations. Sometimes it did seem like it could have just been another one of the books in the middle instead of the last one, but then there would be a prison break or a really dangerous thing would have or I'd remember what the girls (and Zach) were trying to (spoiler alert: it is BIG) and then it would hit me and I'd remember and I'd feel all sad but at the same time I'd probably be laughing because these guys have some great banter or I'd be glued to the page because what was happening was so exciting. My only criticism for United We Spy is that there wasn't enough Joe Solomon in it. But apart from that, it was great.

I may be a bit biased because (as you can probably tell by now) I really love these books and I really want to make other people read these books because they are so much fun to read, I don't know how anyone could resist them. And they're not, like, super beautifully written or gut wrenching or award-winning, but if there was an award for Most Fun and Action Packed and Sometimes Cheesy But Always Fabulous Book Series, Gallagher Girls would win, hands down. Thank you Ally Carter, for a great series.

Monday 2 September 2013

Monthly Round-Up: August

The month of August has come and gone, and with its passing comes the inevitable round up post. This is probably going to be a short one, though, because I read about 6 books and am very annoyed about it because I have had all this time off and I have done practically nothing with it.

Books read:

Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix by Queen J.K
Cruel Summer by James Dawson
Briar Rose by Jana Oliver
Soul Storm by Kate Harrison
Vivian Versus the Apocalypse by Katie Coyle
United We Spy by Ally Carter

Book of the month:
Now this is a really hard decision, because even though I didn't read that much, pretty much everything that I read was really good. I think I'm going to have to pick two...

United We Spy by Ally Carter (which is the only book you are going to hear me talk about for the rest of this week - look out for a review on Thursday and my blog tour post on Friday)

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (which is fab and my second favourite and I don't know why I put it off for so long (that's a lie, I do, I'm just afraid of long books though after reading this, not so much.))

Books reviewed:

Ocean of Secrets by Aimee Friedman
Order of the Phoenix by J K Rowling
Cruel Summer by James Dawson
Soul Storm by Kate Harrison
Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

I also expressed my opinion about the recent film adaptation of Cassandra Clare's City of Bones here which you can check out if you want to and haven't already.

Other stuff I got up to this month: 
My birthday! That was a thing that happened. I can now legally drive in the UK and everything! Not that I'm going to.
LeakyCon London! That was another thing that happened (and in all honesty, it was better than my birthday). It was SO MUCH FUN guys. I was really worried that I wouldn't enjoy it but I was completely wrong and the next time that they do one in the UK, I will leap at the chance to go. It was my first proper convention that didn't take place in a shopping center or a football grounds so it was a pretty big moment, and if all conventions are like Leaky then I want to go to them ALL (though sadly, I know that they are not.)
I also renewed my Netflix subscription. Netflix, you are my one true love, and your original series aren't half as bad as I thought that they'd be (Orange is the New Black is really good).

So, that was pretty much literally all I did this August apart from stress about personal statments and Uni! How was your month?

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