Sunday, 11 June 2017

Review: Coming up for Air by Miranda Kenneally (Hundred Oaks)

Coming up for AirComing up for Air

Author: Miranda Kenneally
Series: Hundred Oaks
Publisher / Souce: Sourcefire Books
Release date: 1st July 2017
Pages: 320

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming. She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics. It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic try out, so she feels even more pressure to succeed. And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

Not one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year. First up? Making out with a guy. And Levi could be the perfect candidate. After all, they already spend a lot of time together. But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to lose to win? 

Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I am such a huge fan of Miranda Kenneally, her books are full of fun, depth, amazingly fabulous characters and storylines that I truly connect with; I was hooked on this book from the very first page and devoured it in one sitting.

Coming Up for Air has one of my all-time favourite tropes, best friends to more and I adored how this played out despite the sometimes awkward, cringe worthy and also upsetting moments.

Our MC is Maggie who has been training to qualify for the Olympics for as long as she can remember, her best friend is Levi who has already earned his tryout. When Maggie propositions Levi to help her gain experience before heading off to college he hesitantly agrees and this is where things become complicated.

Maggie was a fabulous character, passionate and dedicated; she has a select few friends and has devoted her life to swimming but in the process has forgotten to experience fun, daily life because of her strict schedule; Levi was a great friend and support to Maggie and didn’t handle the change in their friendship as much as Maggie did, he was more conflicted but I loved how it all played out.

The side characters were all great, the swimming information was engaging and detailed without being too much, I enjoyed the routine and competing parts most; there were also many sweet and funny moments; it all flowed well and came together nicely.

One thing that did baffle me a little was the rivalry between Maggie and Roxy; nothing really came of this situation when it was highly focussed on throughout the book, I would have liked a little more closure on this.

Coming up for Air is beautifully written and is a wonderful addition to the Hundred Oaks series, I am excited for the next book! The epilogue at the end was also truly special.

Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley for the opportunity to read an advance copy; it is greatly appreciated.


Miranda KenneallyAbout the author: 

Growing up in Tennessee, Miranda Kenneally dreamed of becoming an Atlanta Brave, a country singer (cliché!), or a UN interpreter. Instead she writes, and works for the State Department in Washington, D.C., where George W. Bush once used her shoulder as an armrest. Miranda loves Twitter, Star Trek and her husband.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Review: The Bad Boys Girl by Blair Holden

The Bad Boy's Girl (The Bad Boy's Girl Series Book 1)The Bad Boys Girl

Author: Blair Holden
Publisher: Trident Media Group
Release date: 21 February 2017
Pages: 395
Source: Netgalley

Synopsis: Tessa O'Connell is a girl as ordinary as they come-or so she thinks. Her aim for senior year is to keep her head down yet somehow manage to convince her childhood love Jay Stone to love her back. What she isn't prepared for is for Jay's brother, Cole, to return to town and change the life she's always been seemingly content to live. Tall, gorgeous as all hell and a bad boy with ocean blue eyes and the perfect edge of adorability, he was her greatest tormentor, her number one enemy. But the guy that's come back is like no one Tessa's ever come across. He challenges her, he tests her limits, he forces her to bring out the girl she's long ago buried under a veil of mediocrity and most of all he compels her to consider that perhaps the boy that infuriates her to the point of no return might just her guardian angel.

Warning: The story comes with a bad boy notorious for making you swoon, inducing hysterical laughter and making you question whether you could purchase a clone on eBay.

Review

I am torn with how to rate this book so I didn’t, I enjoyed the overall story but I didn’t like how it all came about.

Tessa has loved Jay Stone for a long time but it was his step-brother Cole who always paid her attention, not often in a good way; he was a bully and tormented her growing up. When he left town for military school it was a relief for her so when he returns after a number of years he is nothing like the person he was when he left and it beyond confuses her.

I liked Cole in the now, his character (until the end) made me really fall for him, I was glad we didn’t meet the tormentor that he was. I found Tessa to be annoying and quite whiny; she had a lot of self-doubt and insecurities which stemmed from the bullying, not only from Cole as children but now from her ex best friend Nicole. Her obsession with Jay was also annoying, he was spineless and didn't stand up for her when his girlfriend would be a torment; he was all about popularity.

Tessa had a lot to deal with throughout the book, parents going through a separation, an alcoholic brother, bullying, a lack of confidence and anxiety; I felt the author dealt with it well.

The aspect I didn’t like was how the bullying was justified, it didn’t sit right with me at all; Tessa fell for a boy who had always infuriated her, yes he was a child when it was all happening but I can never condone intimidation and mistreatment of any kind and have it warranted as harmless no matter what age they are.

Without this aspect, I enjoyed the progression of their relationship and how Cole came to support, defend and gain her trust. Tessa had some great friends but she also had some enemies, Nicole and her clique being the main ones. Travis was interesting and I would love to read a book from his POV, Jay constantly grated on my nerves but I adored his mother.

I didn’t like the ending at all, I did instantly search Amazon to start on the second book just to see what would happen (but I couldn’t find it). 

Overall, without the bullying aspect and the ending I would have preferred this book a lot more. I enjoyed the authors writing style and I thought Cole kept things entertaining despite his past.


Thank you to Trident Media Group via Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review The Bad Boys Girl.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Review: Liberty - The Spy Who (Kind of) Liked Me by Andrea Portes

Liberty: The Spy Who (Kind of) Liked MeLiberty - The Spy Who (Kind of) Liked Me

Author: Andrea Portes
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: 6th June 2017
Pages: 400
Source: Edelweiss ARC

Synopsis (Goodreads): What is a hero? Paige Nolan knows.

Edward Raynes, the young man who exposed America’s unconstitutional spying techniques, is a hero, even if half the dum-dums in the country think he’s a traitor. Or her parents, journalists who were captured by terrorists while telling stories of the endangered and oppressed. They were heroes, too. Were. . . or are—no one has ever told Paige if they’re still alive, or dead.

Not heroes? Anyone in the government who abandoned her parents, letting them rot somewhere halfway across the world. And certainly not Paige herself, who despite her fluency in five languages and mastery of several obscure martial arts (thanks, Mom!) could do nothing to save them.

Couldn’t, that is, until she’s approached by Madden Carter, an undercover operative who gives her a mission—fly to Russia, find Raynes, and discover what other government secrets he’s stockpiled. In exchange, he’ll reopen the case on her missing parents. She’s given a code name and a cover as a foreign exchange student.

Who is a hero? Not Paige Nolan, but maybe, just maybe, Liberty is.

Review: 3 ½ out of 5 stars

I absolutely adore these types of books, light-hearted, witty and a thoroughly entertaining read with a wonderful, likeable heroine.

Our MC, Paige Nolan is the daughter to high profile journalists who are missing presumed dead. When Paige is recruited by a spy to find someone she idolises she is hesitant but will do anything possible to find her parents.

Paige is the sort of character I really enjoy, opinionated, witty, sarcastic and kick butt fabulous; she certainly kept things entertaining.

Madden Carter is an undercover operative from an operational intelligence agency known as RAITH who makes a deal with Paige, she gets to fly to Moscow with a cover as a foreign exchange student; find a person of interest, Sean Raynes and in exchange he’ll reopen her parents case. I thought Madden was great! I didn’t know whether or not he could be trusted or not but I did like his character and I loved the banter that he shared with Paige.

The premise was wonderful, I enjoyed the spy and secret mission aspect but I admit I initially thought that this book would be a little silly and at times it definitely was, you do have to suspend belief on occasion but I was hooked right from the beginning and despite it being told in second person POV which is not my favourite it was written well.

I didn’t completely love the ending and I did feel at times the case of Paige’s missing parents case was forgotten but overall it was written very well and kept me thoroughly entertained. I hope this is made in to a series, I’d definitely like to read more.

Thank you to HarperTeen via Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review Liberty - The Spy Who (Kind of) Liked Me.



Andrea PortesAbout the author:  Andrea Portes is a bestselling American novelist. 

Her novels include HICK, BURY THIS, ANATOMY OF A MISFIT, and THE FALL OF BUTTERFLIES. Portes is also the author of the upcoming LIBERTY book series and the upcoming HENRY & EVA book series. She also published the SUPER RAD graphic novel series for Dark Matter Comics.

Portes was raised in rural Nebraska, outside of Lincoln. She attended Bryn Mawr College on full scholarship and later received her MFA from University of California, San Diego. After graduation, Portes moved to the neighborhood of Echo Park in Los Angeles.

In 2007, Portes published her debut novel HICK that was an instant bestseller. After the book's huge success, the movie adaptation of HICK went into production in 2011. The film, starring Chloë Grace Moretz, Alec Baldwin, Eddie Redmayne, Juliette Lewis, and Blake Lively premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011.

Portes's second novel, BURY THIS, was published in January 2014 by Counterpoint Press's imprint Soft Skull Press to critical acclaim.

In 2012, she wrote SUPER RAD, a sci-fi series for Dark Matter Press.

Portes' third novel, ANATOMY OF A MISFIT, was published in September 2014 by HarperCollins. In July 2014, the book was optioned in a pre-emptive deal by Paramount Pictures, with Allison Shearmur (THE HUNGER GAMES, CINDERELLA) producing.

In Winter 2015, Portes spy thriller series LIBERTY was bought in a three-book deal by HarperCollins. Twentieth Century Fox-Fox 2000 acquired the rights to LIBERTY and will be producing the series with Wyck Godfrey (TWILIGHT, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS).

Her fourth book, THE FALL OF BUTTERFLIES will be out in May 2016 published by HarperCollins.

Portes also chose HarperCollins to publish HENRY & EVA AND THE CASTLE ON THE CLIFF, the first in a middle reader series of HENRY & EVA books. The second release in the series will be HENRY & EVA AND THE FAMOUS PEOPLE GHOSTS.

Portes is currently working on THEY WERE LIKE WOLVES, a work of literary fiction. 

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Review: Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr

Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa MarrSeven Black Diamonds

Author: Melissa Marr
Series: Seven Black Diamonds #1
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release date: 01/03/2016
Pages: 400

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Lilywhite Abernathy is a criminal. Her father’s “unconventional” business has meant a life of tightly held secrets, concealed weaponry, and a strict code. But Lily’s crime isn’t being the daughter of a powerful mob boss. Her guilt lies in the other half of her DNA—the part that can coax ancient rumors from stones and summon fire with a thought. Lily is part fae, which is a crime in her world.

From the time before she was born, a war has been raging between humanity and fae. The Queen of Blood and Rage, ruler of both the Seelie and Unseelie courts, wants to avenge the tragic death of her heir—a death that was the fault of reckless humans.

Lily’s father has shielded her from the repercussions of her ancestry…until she is sent to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, straight into the arms of the Black Diamonds.

Mysterious, glamorous, and bound together in their mission but constantly at odds, Zephyr, Creed, Will, Roan, Violet, and Alkamy are a Sleeper cell of fae, planted in the human world to help destroy it from within. With covers as rock stars and celebrity children, the Black Diamonds carry out the queen’s war against humanity. And unbeknownst to Lilywhite, she’s been chosen to join them.

Now more than ever, Lily’s heritage puts her in peril, and even the romantic attention of the fae singer Creed Morrison isn’t enough to keep Lily from wanting to run back to the safer world of organized crime.

Melissa Marr returns to faery in a dramatic story of the precarious space between two worlds and the people who must thrive there.

Review: 3 ½ out of 5 stars

I have a bit of an obsession when it comes to series about the fae so I was pretty excited to read Seven Black Diamonds by Melissa Marr, and despite finding it confusing and with too many POV’s it was enjoyable none the less and I am excited to read the next book.

Our main character is Lilywhite Abernathy, the daughter of a notorious fae crime boss, she lives a privileged life and is being groomed to take over but what is not known to others is that half of her DNA is fae, a crime in her world.

Lily is oblivious about her ties to faery but ends up tangled in a world of danger, politics and intrigue as she is sent by her father to the prestigious St. Columba’s school, straight into the arms of the Black Diamonds, their purpose is to carry out the queen’s war against humanity.

There was so much to love about this book, but Lily really shone! She was quick witted, intelligent, at times bratty but also dedicated. There are many side characters, the Queen of Blood and Rage is appropriately named, she kills with no regret and no compassion. She has a son Rhys who I thought was great and a daughter named Eilidh who plays a pivotal role in the overall story. I enjoyed the vast array of characters.

I enjoyed the complex world-building, Seven Black Diamonds is filled with a great blend of mystery, danger and scheming. I did find the number of POV’s confusing initially but as each personality shone through I became more interested in getting to know them individually.

The romance wasn’t at the forefront of the story but it was there between Lily and Creed, it was slow to build (my favourite) and I can’t wait to see it progress.

I love the unique and creative fantasy world that Marr has created, the world-building is strong and I can imagine will only get better. The pacing was consistent and was filled with a blend of action, romance, mystery and scheming to keep me entertained throughout; there was never a dull moment.

Thank you to HarperTeen via Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review Seven Black Diamonds.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Review: Run the Risk by Allison Van Diepen

Run the RiskRun the Risk

Author: Allison Van Diepen
Release date: 11/04/17
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 288

Synopsis: (Goodreads)

Grace has done her best to move on since her ex-boyfriend, Mateo, chose gang life over her. But even though years have passed, she hasn’t forgotten him—especially since she’s seen her younger brother, Alex, drawn to a life on the streets. She can’t bear to think of Alex making the same mistakes as Mateo, but she feels him slipping away.

So when Mateo suddenly resurfaces, insisting he’s left gang life behind him, Grace sees an opportunity. Maybe he could be the one to reach Alex and pull him away from the edge. She tells herself she’s only talking to Mateo again because of Alex, but her feelings quickly return. Can she ever trust Mateo again? And is saving her brother worth risking a broken heart? With everyone she loves in danger, Grace must decide how much to sacrifice before it’s too late.

Review: 3 ½ out of 5 stars

Run the Risk is the third book in the On the Edge series by Allison Van Diepen and is Grace and Mateo’s story. It is a companion novel to On the Edge and Light of Day, all books are set in the same world but can be read as a standalone.

I like the premise of this series; we have action, danger, mystery, intrigue and romance – a nice blend of everything I find myself enjoying.

Grace’s story started off to be quite interesting, her mother has died, her father is absent for weeks at a time and her fifteen year-old brother Alex is slowly on his way to being recruited by a dangerous gang he is also the reason she is was unable to pursue her college studies in childcare. Grace is now studying online, volunteers at a childcare centre and works at the local cinema, it is here where she reconnects with her first boyfriend Mateo who chose gang life over her when he starts working in security.

Grace never really got over Mateo so she is leery when he resurfaces in her life but she also sees it as an opportunity to help her brother. Mateo’s life has been filled with danger but he’d never forgotten Grace, he was more than eager to help her with Alex but we soon find out there is a reason why he so willingly agreed.

To be honest, I wasn’t completely wowed by the romance between Grace and Mateo; I know they shared a past but their present felt forced, she was bribing him and he went along with all of her demands; I unfortunately couldn’t see their attraction, it seemed to be a relationship of convenience.

I did enjoy the gang and crime information, I found these scenes to be informative and thrilling; this was my favourite aspect of this book.

The side characters were interesting, I have always been intrigued by X. Alex was a bit of an ass in the initial stages and I didn’t like how Grace needed to play mum with her dad always absent, she had taken on such a huge role at nineteen years of age – this didn’t sit well with me.

The slam poetry was a welcomed addition but I felt that it was thrown in with no real purpose; it didn’t (to me) fit in with the overall storyline despite it being enjoyable.

If you are a fan of Simone Elkeles or Katie McGarry then I think that you will enjoy this series. It is well written with a wonderful premise; I hope to read more in this series.

Thank you to HarperTeen via Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review Run the Risk.



Allison van DiepenAbout the author

Allison van Diepen is the author of many teen novels, including Takedown, Street Pharm, Snitch, Raven, The Oracle of Dating, The Oracle Rebounds, and The Vampire Stalker. Her novels have been named ALA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers and New York City Public Library Books for the Teen Age. 


Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Review: All in Pieces by Suzanne Young

All in PiecesAll in Pieces

Author: Suzanne Young
Release date: 8/11/2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages: 259

Synopsis (Goodreads)

“Anger-management issues.”

That’s how they classified Savannah Sutton after she stuck a pencil in her ex-boyfriend’s hand because he mocked her little brother, Evan, for being disabled. That’s why they sent her to Brooks Academy—an alternative high school that’s used as a temporary detention center.

The days at Brooks are miserable, but at home, life is far more bleak. Savvy’s struggling to take care of her brother since her mom left years ago, and her alcoholic dad can’t be bothered. Life with Evan is a constant challenge, but he’s also the most important person in the world to Savvy.

Then there’s Cameron, a new student at Brooks with issues of his own, a guy from a perfect family that Savvy thought only existed on TV. Cameron seems determined to break through every one of the walls Savvy’s built around herself—except if she lets herself trust him, it could make everything she’s worked so hard for fall apart in an instant.

And with her aunt seeking custody of her brother and her ex-boyfriend seeking revenge, Savvy’s fighting to hold all the pieces together. But she’s not sure how much tighter she can be pulled before she breaks completely.
 

Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This book was all sorts of wonderful and drew me in from the very beginning.

Savannah ‘Savvy’ Sutton is the sort of character you just want to hug, she has an alcoholic father, a mother that left them years prior and she is taking care of her special needs brother. She was such a strong and sassy character that you can’t help but adore.

When Savvy sticks a pencil in her ex-boyfriends hand she is sent to Brooks Academy, a miserable place used as a detention centre. Her life is hard but she has a great little brother, some wonderful friends and has caught the attention of the new guy Cameron but it doesn’t make her home life and dealing with her father any easier especially when he is so willing and eager to hand over custody of her brother to her aunt.

Cameron was fabulous, I adored him and loved the way he broke down Savvy’s walls and introduced her to a really lovely family life, his life wasn’t without drama but his problems were very different to Savvy’s. I adored their interactions and the bond that they came to share.

Suzanne Young wrote about a lot of tough subjects in this book – alcoholism, illness, family breakdown and anger issues. It was believable and dealt with in a realistic way. Her writing is gripping.

All in Pieces does have a morose feel to it because of the heavy issues discussed but it was enjoyable none the less.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Simon Pulse for the review copy.



Suzanne YoungAbout the author: 

Suzanne Young is the New York Times bestselling author of The Program, The Treatment, and several other novels. She currently lives in Tempe, Arizona where she teaches high school English and obsesses about books. Learn more about Suzanne at www.suzanne-young.blogspot.com