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Book Review UKYA

REVIEW: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

I received this book for free from Scholastic in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda SalisburyThe Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
Series: The Sin Eater's Daughter #1
Published by Scholastic on 6th February 2015
Genres: fantasy, young adult
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Scholastic
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five-stars

Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.

She’s the executioner.

As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.

However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

Now, as The Sin Eater’s Daughter begins to emerge into the wild, I feel a burning pride every time I see someone tweet or write about it. The feeling that comes with, ‘MY FRIEND HAS WRITTEN A BOOK!!’ and a book that I have been waiting to read for months and months.

Twylla is seventeen years old, betrothed to a prince, and lives in a castle. She’s also an executioner: the moment she touches someone, they die. Twylla is the Goddess Embodied and each month is forced to lay her hands on the treasonous prisoners in the Lormere castle cells.

It’s not often you read a book, particularly with fantasy, with a character that is very rounded and you get to see every side of them. Salisbury isn’t afraid to show how genuine Twylla is – her emotions are portrayed so realistically that it’s as if you are experiencing them yourself. I loved seeing her vulnerable moments and her character development as the book progressed was enjoyable to read about. I loved her!

Salisbury is informative without being info-dumpy; complex whilst still being understandable; and has so much depth. Something unusual that I was pleased to see was that the plot of The Sin Eater’s Daughter can stand on its own, and whilst we begin to see plot strands leading to the bigger picture of the trilogy, I wasn’t left feeling like all the action would be left until the final book. I loved it and I wish it were something that happens more in trilogies; it makes them so much more exciting!

I loved the theme of faith and religion and how it tied into the mythology within the world. It was brilliant!

I really, really, really can’t wait to read the next book in the trilogy. I’m so invested already in the characters and the world, and the ending left me crying about the yearlong wait. Hurry up please, Mel!

 

BOOK IN A TWEET: READ IT RIGHT NOW.

five-stars
Book Review UKYA

REVIEW: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

I received this book for free from David Fickling Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa WilliamsonThe Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson
Published by David Fickling Books on 1st January 2015
Genres: contemporary, LGBT, young adult
Format: ARC
Source: David Fickling Books
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five-stars

Two boys. Two secrets.

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan.

When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…

The buzz around the release of The Art of Being Normal has been crazy! So many of my trusted friends and fellow reviewers have loved it so the pressure was on when I chose to read it myself.

Williamson has created a novel I wish had been written years ago. It’s incredibly brave – I don’t think there’s anything too similar to it published at the moment – and it stands out because of its themes and content. However, I’m sad because I wish there were more books just like The Art of Being Normal. I’m going to make it my mission to seek them out! I hope it leads the way to similar books being published.

David has one wish: he wants to be a girl. It’s something that only his two best friends know. As he starts a new school year, Leo Denton starts in year eleven, a boy shrouded in mystery. He is determined to be invisible. The school year plays out and the two boys find out that things at Eden Park School don’t stay secret for long.

I really loved both protagonists and especially how distinguishable they were. Each stood out on their own but also interacted well together, which is what I love in a multiple perspective novel.

David was such a loveable character. Being the same age, I thought I could relate to him a lot and really sympathise with his situation. I wish he were my friend!

Leo’s character development was amazing to read. It was almost as if it was unfolding in real time and I loved seeing him grow and change. Authors take note – this was a perfect character arc!

Please, please, please read The Art of Being Normal! I want to scream from the rooftops about it, and I know I’m not the only one!

five-stars
Book Review

REVIEW: Vendetta by Catherine Doyle

I received this book for free from Chicken House in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: Vendetta by Catherine DoyleVendetta by Catherine Doyle
Series: Vendetta #1
Published by Chicken House on 1st January 2015
Genres: contemporary, young adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Chicken House
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five-stars

When it comes to revenge, love is a dangerous complication.With a fierce rivalry raging between two warring families, falling in love is the deadliest thing Sophie could do. An epic debut set outside modern-day Chicago.

When five brothers move into the abandoned mansion in her neighbourhood, Sophie Gracewell's life changes forever. Irresistibly drawn to bad boy Nicoli, Sophie finds herself falling into a criminal underworld governed by powerful families. As the boys' dark secrets begin to come to light, Sophie is confronted with stinging truths about her own family, too. She must choose between two warring dynasties - the one she was born into, and the one she is falling in love with. When she does, blood will spill and hearts will break.

You know that feeling when you read an amazing book and you have to re-evaluate everything you once thought about life? Vendetta was that book for me. It completely destroyed me.

Vendetta is the version of Romeo and Juliet you wish Shakespeare had written. In one sentence, it’s Shakespeare meets the Mafia – dramatic, spellbinding and phenomenal.

I’ve been wanting to read Doyle’s debut novel for what feels like forever, so I had to start it immediately as soon as a copy dropped through my letterbox (after loudly jumping around, screaming, “I HAVE CAT’S BOOK! CAT HAS WRITTEN A BOOK!”). No matter how much you know about Vendetta beforehand, nothing will prepare you for what’s actually inside. It’s a book you can speed through in a day because it’s impossible to put down. Bit of an issue when you’re trying to be productive!

The protagonist, Sophie, is such a realistic voice who I instantly warmed to. It was easy to feel as if you were in her position, which made the narrative so much more awesome. I’m not usually a massive fan of first person, but it worked so well.

Vendetta has a romance that is unlike anything I’ve seen in another novel. Each of the five boys in the book are incredibly swoony and so well written. They’re basically a huge selling point just on their own.

It’s not often that I feel like crying because of the awesomeness of a book. In fact, I can’t remember a time it’s happened before, but Catherine Doyle changed all of that for me. I became so emotionally attached to the story that I couldn’t bear to finish reading it. I cannot wait to read the next book!

READ VENDETTA AS SOON AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN! I guarantee you’ll love it!

five-stars
Book Review

REVIEW: Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer

I received this book for free from Simon and Schuster UK in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: Belzhar by Meg WolitzerBelzhar by Meg Wolitzer
Published by Simon and Schuster UK on 1st October 2014
Genres: contemporary, psychological
Pages: 266
Format: ARC
Source: Simon and Schuster UK
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five-stars

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be at home in New Jersey with her sweet British boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.

I was reluctant to read Belzhar at first because I’d read very mixed reviews. However, I decided to finally read it on a whim, and I’m very glad I did!

Jam Gallahue has been sent to a school far away from her family in the hope to recover from a devastating disaster: her boyfriend dying. The Wooden Barn is a school for people just like her, so when she’s put into a special and exclusive English class called Special Topics, she doesn’t think much of it. It’s only when the class are given a special journal writing assignment that things start to change dramatically for her and her classmates.

At first glance, Belzhar is a contemporary novel dealing with the effects of grief and loss. It then takes a psychological turn that I loved because it added a whole new element to the book. I’m quite glad I didn’t pay too much attention to the synopsis!

I loved the closeness of the Special Topics group because it demonstrated that it’s possible to have a book that features strong friendships. Each character developed at a constant rate, each one seeming as familiar as the protagonist, Jam.

Jam herself was a good character, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to read about her further. I liked her for the duration of the novel, but I doubt that she’ll be memorable enough to think about again in the future. Her story has ended satisfactorily and so I’m content with leaving her as we left her at the ending.

A note for all you future readers of Belzhar: The title may not make sense right now, but it will do once you get deeper into the novel. I love the feeling of when a book title finally falls into place – it’s very magical!

I feel as if I should fully explain why I chose to rate Belzhar five stars because it definitely wasn’t a perfect book. Whilst Belzhar did exceed my expectations, it was the literary techniques used and shock ending that sealed the five star fate. I love books that break out of the regular mould, and Belzhar definitely did that.

It also deals with mental health in an approachable and understanding way; it was very easy to relate to.

I enjoyed Belzhar, especially its originality and ability to amaze. I would recommend it to people looking for something a bit different to read!

five-stars
Book Review

REVIEW: Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini

I received this book for free from Macmillan Children's Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: Trial by Fire by Josephine AngeliniTrial by Fire by Josephine Angelini
Series: Worldwalker #1
Published by Macmillan Children's Books on 2nd September 2014
Genres: alternate world, fantasy, young adult
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Macmillan Children's Books
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five-stars

The exhilaratingly seductive new series from the author of the bestselling Starcrossed series

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted...which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily's life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem - one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

Seeing as though my blog is titled Queen of Contemporary, it may not come as a surprise when I say that I’m not the biggest fan of fantasy. However, that’s not to say that I didn’t like Trial by Fire because, in fact, I loved it.

I’ve always had an affinity for fantasy novels that are set in medieval-type villages, towns or cities, and Trial by Fire mixes medieval with magic. It centres on the protagonist Lily who is very ill. After a humiliating event at a party, Lily then finds herself in an alternate Salem to the one she lives in, and magic rules. Lillian, the most powerful witch in The Citadel, rules this Salem and Lily’s alternate self. Lily is thrown into a world she doesn’t understand, where her weaknesses are what makes her powerful, and may also get her killed.

Often I read books that I forget about easily; I know that Trial by Fire will not be one of those books. Easily rivalling the likes of Throne of Glass, Trial by Fire will have you on the edge of your seat and invested from the start.

Lately I’ve kind of lost my ability to ship characters, which makes me an awful fangirl. I do think that Trial by Fire changed that though because I ship Lily and Rowan so hard. They absolutely must end up together!

The world building in Trial by Fire was spectacular and I think many authors could take a leaf out of Angelini’s book. I loved the idea of willstones. Carried around by each person, they give you the ability to perform certain magic. People who own the weaker willstones can only perform household tasks with theirs, whereas other willstones hold more power. They’re obtained in a way not unlike ‘the wand chooses the wizard.’

I felt very close to each character, learning the ins and outs of each one. The plot was fast-paced and spellbinding, hooking me until the very end, and now I cannot wait to read the sequel!

Trial by Fire now earns its place as one of my favourite fantasy novels of the year and I can’t wait until more people find out about this gem of a book.

 

You could win a copy of Trial by Fire, by filling out the Rafflecopter below. It’s UK only, so very sorry to all the International folks! You must be following via email or Bloglovin’ to be in with a chance of winning. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

five-stars
Book Review

A Love Letter to Landline

Dear Landline,

Landline, Landline, Landline… How much more can I possibly love you? After loving Rainbow Rowell’s previous books so, so much, you were the book I was most excited, but also the most nervous, to read. How could you possibly live up to my extremely high expectations? I don’t know, but you did. You exceeded them by miles (or should I say kilometres?).

Landline, you may be about a phone with a mystical connection to the past, but even with the element of magic you managed to hook me in so that you invaded my every thought. Seriously, who needs to wash and eat when they have you, Landline?

Also, you have the most loveable characters who I would really like to be my best friends. Is that possible? Can you work something out for me? Although I wanted to shake Georgie and tell her to sort herself out already, that was in a totally good way and proved to me that you can adore a novel without relating to, and even understanding, all of the characters. Neal, and the girls? I want them please!

You were so easy to read. I could concentrate on every single one of your words even though my phone was in my other hand and I was typing away.

I didn’t want you to end, couldn’t bear it when I turned the last page. Even when I had the story still lived on in my head. When it comes to books, I have issues with saying goodbye.

You made me think about whom I would ring if I could speak to someone again, about how important it is to just live and enjoy yourself, concentrating on the things that matter the most.

Landline, I don’t want to have to let go of you. I don’t want to forget about how much you mean to me, and how many memories you hold. You’re not just a book to me.

Thank you, Landline. Thank you for everything. Now, will you marry me, please?

 

You can listen to a sample of the Landline audiobook here:

five-stars
Book Review UKYA Where to Start

REVIEW: Solitaire by Alice Oseman

I received this book for free from Harper Collins Children's Books in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: Solitaire by Alice OsemanSolitaire by Alice Oseman
Published by Harper Collins Children's Books on 31st July 2014
Genres: contemporary, young adult
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
Source: Harper Collins Children's Books
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five-stars

In case you’re wondering, this is not a love story.

My name is Tori Spring. I like to sleep and I like to blog. Last year – before all that stuff with Charlie and before I had to face the harsh realities of A-Levels and university applications and the fact that one day I really will have to start talking to people – I had friends. Things were very different, I guess, but that’s all over now.

Now there’s Solitaire. And Michael Holden.

I don’t know what Solitaire are trying to do, and I don’t care about Michael Holden.

I really don’t.

This incredible debut novel by outstanding young author Alice Oseman is perfect for fans of John Green, Rainbow Rowell and all unflinchingly honest writers.

What can I say about Solitaire that will convey my thoughts on just how perfect it is? I’ve been eagerly anticipating reading it for months now and so I started it as soon as I opened the parcel containing it.

Solitaire tells the story of Victoria Spring, whose hobbies include sleeping, blogging and drinking diet lemonade. Tori is a pessimist and prefers her own company to spending time with others. Things used to be different: she had friends and her brother, Charlie, was okay, but now things are different. When things start happening around the school, harmless pranks which then turn into something bigger, Tori is left wondering who’s behind it – who are Solitaire, and what are they trying to achieve? – and also trying to live with her own inner struggles.

Solitaire is a gorgeous and breath-taking debut novel, which, in my opinion, rivals the likes of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Seeing as though Catcher is one of my all time favourite novels, it’s no surprise that Solitaire is now also a part of that list.

Filled with fandom references and incredibly realistic to teenage life, Solitaire is a book that every teenager will relate to and a book many adults will also love because of its realism and ability to just understand life on so many levels.

One of the reasons I loved this novel so much was that I felt as if I was the person in Tori’s head. It scared me in a way because so many of my own feelings were reflected in the writing. Tori, the protagonist, gets me and that made it so special to read.

Tori is juxtaposed to Michael Holden, the male protagonist in Solitaire. Before you think it, Solitaire is by no means a love story. Solitaire is a life story, and by that I mean that Solitaire captures life perfectly – life isn’t a love story, is it? Life is so much more than meeting someone and madly falling in love with him or her. I loved that about Solitaire and it’s what sets it apart from your typical YA novel.

Written from the heart, I believe Solitaire will be one of the biggest debut novels of 2014. You certainly won’t want to miss out on reading it!

 

Book in a Tweet: If you’re a teenager, or have ever been a teenager, this book has been written just for you: You’re not alone.

If you liked …. you’ll love this!

 solitaireifyouliked.pngJohn Green – love The Fault in Our Stars? Mad about Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns? Solitaire easily rivals it!

 Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Full of fandom references that will put a big smile on your face, Solitaire deals with the same feelings as Fangirl but is possibly even better!

five-stars
Book Review

REVIEW: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

This review is being written five minutes after finishing We Were Liars, so please excuse my thoughts which will probably be all over the place and incoherent. This book is absolutely crazy.

I should probably first of all mention that this book was a 3.5 star read for the majority of the book, but I can’t rate it anything but 5 stars after finishing because OMG. It blew me away!

Here are some reasons you should read We Were Liars:

  1. Family politics mean a really interesting read, and there is a lot of it in the Sinclair family.
  2. It’s VERY different to anything you’d usually read.
  3. The hype? It’s for good reason. This book is awesome!
  4. TWISTS, MAN. THOSE TWISTS MESSED WITH MY HEAD.

I don’t want to give anything away, because there’s a lot I could reveal. I feel as if any tiny thing I reveal could be classed as a spoiler of epic proportions so I should probably just say – READ WE WERE LIARS! It isn’t everyone’s type of book and I know not everyone has enjoyed it, but give it a chance and I think you’ll love it.

I think one of the most appealing things about We Were Liars is I don’t think there’s another book even remotely similar to it out there at the moment. You can pick it up knowing you won’t have read anything quite like it before.

If you like your mental state, read We Were Liars. Nobody is supposed to be sane!

five-stars