Something Witchy This Way Comes…

The story:

Poppy has always known she was different – cats follow her everywhere and mysterious things happen when she gets angry, bad things, like windows shattering and random fires. There’s usually blood involved. So exactly the kind of things that get you expelled from eleven schools in a row and which eventually drive her mother into a mental institution…

What Poppy doesn’t know is that there is a very reasonable explanation for all of this: her evil witch aunt swapped her out with a regular mortal – Ember – when she was less than a day old. Making Poppy, ta-da!, a witch… And poor Ember, a talentless mortal in witch clothes. (It’s difficult to say which character feels the most sorry for themselves at the beginning of the story.) Then there’s Leo, the young homeless boy who steals Poppy’s heart.

You can expect:

– Dark, gothic undertones. #myjam

– A cute, magical romance…. A love triangle of sorts. #SOmean

– Multiple p.o.v characters.

– Dark family secrets. #yeahbaby!

– High school drama.

– A brutal ending. Seriously. I need a sequel stat. This ending CANNOT stand! #obsessed #really?

Orchard Books is publishing The Hawkweed Prophesy on June 16th.

The Book Review: One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank

Publishing June 6th, ARC curtesy of Netgalley.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Sophie and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, his soon-to-be wife and his stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.

Sophie’s dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Still, after a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s.

Review:

Camille was a typical bully, the type we’ve all met before as young girls and know to dread. #evilstepsister Though this is probably one reason why I connected so well with the story, it also kind of sucked for Sophie!

I loved how Sophie’s life in Paris was built up slowly, brick by brick – with each new place explored, each new pastry tasted and each new phrase she learns. I really felt like I was learning how to live in Paris, whilst reading One Paris Summer.

Piano-obsessed Sophie grows up a lot during the course of the novel, in large part because of Camille’s actions. Her impression of her childhood crush is reformed, her relationships with her brother and estranged father mature and she learns to believe in herself more. 

Sophie’s less inclined to cry and mop around by the end of the novel. So I definitely liked and respected her more as the story progressed.

Matthieu was a typical French love interest – alluringly aloof and yet suitably romantic. His scenes definitely made me swoon a time or two, not something that YA usually does for me… Expect cute texts, sexy French lessons and the Eiffel Tower! 

The only negative thing I’d say is that Matthieu’s reasons for staying away from Sophie in the beginning, became rather tiresome after a while. I sort of felt like if the author had used maybe a smidgen more of her imagination, then she might of have solved this issue.

A Week In San Francisco With Nina LaCour and David Levithan…


We listened to beat poetry and Lehna’s poem, that one about friendship, reminded me of my best friends from high school and what leaving them behind felt like.

What we really were,
Were twins.
The kind that feel it
When the other is cold.
The kind that always hears
Two heartbeats
Instead of one.
Pinch me
And you’d say
Ouch.

We attended pride and watched the Dykes on Bikes. And we revelled in the openness. In the love.

Mark spent most of that week figuring himself out, when his closeted best friend found somebody else. But that was cool.

Mark: “I have this thing inside me, and it’s angry and it’s scared and it’s uncertain and most of all it’s so completely in love with him, and it would do anything to keep him, even if it means things staying the way they are now…. I don’t love him for who he is now. I wouldn’t love him for who he is two years from now. I love him for all the hims he’s already been with me.”

Katie ‘call-me-Kate’, the under-confident artist, ran away from her dream girl time after time, but what she was really running from, who knew? Only she did. Only her fears did.

And Garrison took our pictures, forced us to stare at our truths. To try to live them. He was safe, he was wise, he was honest and knew a little something about hearts. He told us, “Most lives are long, and most pain is short. Hearts don’t actually break; they always keep beating…. As that famous homosexual Winston Churchill once said, if you find yourself heartbroken, keep walking.”

That time I spent in San Francisco with Nina LaCour and David Levithan, that time was amazing.

It taught me that it was okay to not have stuff figured out. Any of it. Because that’s life.

But, funnily enough, eventually Kate did figure some important stuff out. And so did Mark.

Kate: “Hiding and denying and being afraid is no way to treat love. Love demands bravery. No matter the occasion, love expects us to rise…”

You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan (St Martin’s Griffin) publishes June 7th.

Kurt Vonnegut’s Crusade Against Stupidity #BookReport

Considering he passed away in 2007, reading ‘A Man Without a Country’ is probably the closest I’ll ever get to meeting Kurt Vonnegut. And I’m not okay with that. His essays here are honest, pessimistic and funny as hell.

Everyone should read Vonnegut. Age is not a factor here. Vonnegut is a Socratic thinker – he questions everything and that is not a bad thing.

So many topics are dipped in and out of in these essays and his opinions are gut punches against society, each and every one of them… The man did not shy away from calling out society’s ironies, lies and hypocrisies. 

I might not agree with all of his views, or his politics, but I really enjoyed reading about what he had to say. You can expect discussions around:

Greenpeace. Fossil fuels and our irresponsible, Earth-destroying, consumption of them.

“Guesser” politicians and the constitution. Kurt Vonnegut is fearless in his socialist leanings and his criticisms of  politicians – Stalin and Mao included.

There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution… Only nut cases want to be President. –p.102

The news. Only Chicago’s In These Times gave Vonnegut hope for our news cycles.

Religion.


War, the military and modern weaponry. Kurt Vonnegut versus weapons of mass destruction. 

They [soldiers] are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas. –p.72

Education.


Racism and sexism and many other isms…


History and family.

 There have never been any ‘Good Old Days’, there have just been days. And as I say to my grandchildren, “Don’t look at me. I just got here.” -p.131

Technology and the Meaning of Life.

Electronic communities build nothing. You wind up with nothing. We are dancing animals. How beautiful it is to get up and go out and do something. We are here on Earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different. -p.62

Healthcare. 


Writing tips and how he got into comedy/satire. 

Rules only take us so far, even good rules. –p.134

You can’t really misfire with a tragic scene. It’s bound to be moving if all the right elements are present. But a joke is like building a mousetrap from scratch. You have to work pretty hard to make the thing snap when it’s supposed to snap.” -p.128

Music.

Be prepared to be wowed by these essays… To dispair and to laugh out loud!

Some books recommended by Vonnegut:

  1. Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge – Ambrose Bierce
  2. Democracy in America – Alexis de Tocqueville
  3. The Tin Men – Michael Frayn
  4. The Mysterious Stranger – Mark Twain

Audiobook Review: Joyride by Anna Banks


If you’re going to listen a story about two teens falling in love despite all of the obstacles they face – a racist father, a dead sister, immigration problems etc – then it should be told in a dual P.O.V., which thankfully this story is. I liked how Carly’s chapters were read by a women and Arden’s by a chap and I really, really loved Arden’s slow drawl! 

Carly is the perfect heroine: engaging, smart, passionate and feisty! #latinapride. She’s trying to fly under the radar at school, while helping her brother to raise the cash to smuggle her parents into the US by working at all hours of the night. Then one day Arden prank ‘robs’ the store where she works and Carly, who was having none of it, peaks his interest. 

Arden is super sweet and quick witted and compassionate – but he’s also feeling kind of lost after the death of his sister. Lost and angry and rebellious. While Arden slowly grows on Carly, despite his golden boy halo at school (ex-quarterback, bags of money), she knows that  hanging out with Arden will bring trouble for her family. 

The pacing of the story (and the romance) was brilliant, this book kept my attention the whole time. Arden’s drunken uncle and Carly’s brother were really well drawn characters – I feel like I know them! Anna Banks creates a complete and  believable world for her characters – the perfect setting for a convincing love story.

Final verdict: A perfect, culturally diverse, YA Contemporary that deals with real issues and delivers a so cute, couple! 

Book Review: The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodski


This was a fun read. It’s an interesting mix of romance, crime/thriller vibes and Greek mythology. (Be warned, Jordanna knows her Classics and she isn’t afraid to show it! Expect lots of Ancient Greek vocab…) And JMB definitely makes the most of her New York setting – I learnt so much about the ‘hidden’/historic places while in New York reading this book! Which was kind of cool. 🙂

The main character, Selene, is a lonely, modern-day immortal living in New York. This former goddess now makes her living as a private detective and prides herself on protecting abused women, just as her former self (Artemis) once did. But as a weakened version of herself, she’s now barely stronger than the women she tries to help.

When a virgin sacrifice in Central Park, crowns of laurel, archaic bones and one very guilty lookingClassics professor  draw Selene’s attention to a series of ritualistic murders, she sets out to solve the case. She’s almost certain she’s the only one who can, because through these murders someone in New York is trying to pay homage to the Greek gods… Someone who knows too much to be mortal. Someone like her.

 

Mystery – 5/5 – I loved the middle of this book, talk about a nail biter! 

Romance – 3/5 – If you want passion and lust and crazy sex scenes, this is not the book for you. If you want something sweet, then give this book a whirl!

Classics Awesomeness – 5/5 – I can’t even. Just yes. My inner Classicist loved this storyline and seeing the Greek Gods reborn in modern roles – Apollo the rock star, Dionysus the terminal-student etc – was kind of wicked too.

Ending – 4/5 – I felt the ending dragged a little though – once the bad guys were unmasked, I expected a quicker/briefer final showdown.

Book Review: Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar

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Jess Gordon is out for revenge. Last year the jocks from Knights College tried to shame her best friend. This year she and a hand-picked college girl gang are going to get even. The lesson: don’t mess with Unity girls. The target: Blondie, a typical Knights stud, arrogant, cold . . . and smart enough to keep up with Jess.

A neo-riot grrl with a penchant for fanning the flames meets a rugby-playing sexist pig – sworn enemies or two people who happen to find each other when they’re at their most vulnerable? It’s all Girl meets Boy, Girl steals from Boy, seduces Boy, ties Boy to a chair and burns Boy’s stuff. Just your typical love story.

Summer Skin’s the first book I’ve purchased by Aussie author Kirsty Eagar and I read it in no time at all! You can expect a really refreshing, super-funny New Adult romance, which also explores the pains of growing up in a hip, new, media-friendly age.

Jess is a firecracker on the page and a great main character. I loved how loud she was. Some characters creep across the page and can be just a little bit boring – but not Jess! The secondary characters were also really well developed; proving that people and relationships (friendships or LTRs) can certainly be a lot more complicated than you’d ever expect them to be!

Mitch is a flawed love interest, but that’s the thing about this book. The romance isn’t ‘novel perfect’ (despite its superb pacing) and there’s heaping, steamy spoonfuls of reality mixed in. Jess makes mistakes and Mitch has moments where he buries his head in the proverbial sand, or is a big fat grump. But this just makes the novel more honest, more real.

#shipshipship! #21stcentury #girlpower #wowbook

Mini Book Review: Star Flight by Melissa Landers 

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Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She’s so desperate to reach the realm that she’s willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.

When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he’s been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world—and each other—the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe… 

I love YA sci-fi, so it’s funny that this was my first ML read. I don’t think it will be my last though, especially since there’s going to be a sequel to Star Flight!

This first book introduces us to an eclectic set of characters, all with their own backstories and arch-nemesises, which made this an addictive and action-packed adventure – from the half-robotic captain, to a runaway Princess, Solara’s new flight companions are quite the motley crew and even pampered Doran was kind of entertaining when taken out of his element and dumped onto a clunky old frigate of a spaceship.

Book Strengths: a gutsy heroine, wicked BANTER, laugh out loud moments, the chemistry, the intrigue, armed spaceships a la Star Wars, PIRATES who hold duals and offer to parlay! An interesting but unlikely twist at the end… The book even briefly paid homage to Firefly (does anyone not love Joss Whedon?!), with a set of crazy, blood-thirsty, metal pierced assassins cast as the scary bad guys of space.

Pet Peeve: We didn’t really get any resolutions to the main characters’ problems, which meant this book was very much an ‘intro’. The only thing this book really achieved was to deliver a romance and set up the world/characters for book two…

Book Review: Unmade by Amy Rose Capetta (Entangled #2)

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Having lost Xan, Cade and her friends flee across the galaxy in an effort the escape the machinations of the Unmakers and to find Cade’s mother. However, the Unmakers cannot afford to let Cade succeed in her plan to bring humanity back together… And so they resolve to wipe out humanity completely, orchestrating a series of bombing raids on human colonies. After surviving one such raid, Cade and her friends encourage the few lone survivors to take to the skies themselves, in a small armada of ships. But time is running out for humanity – if space sickness doesn’t claim Cade’s friends, then the Unmakers will.

Fun Factor: ❤️❤️❤️❤️

This felt very much like a re-worked book-version Battle Star Galactica at times (right down to the Cylon chips and the search for Earth), which was fun… but I liked the TV show better.

Pace: ❤️❤️❤️❤️💘

Let it never be said that Cade and her friends had a predictable journey across the galaxy…

Suspense / Mystery: ❤️❤️❤️❤️

I loved the Xan poetry and the entanglement science and pulse-pounding space fights and the problem of space sickness and SO MUCH else.

But the questions surrounding the Unmaker’s motives were all answered in Entangled and we learnt nothing new about them in this instalment.

World-Building: ❤️❤️❤️❤️ 

I liked travelling the galaxy with Renna and her crew, but I would have liked to have met more alien species and see more ‘foreign’ worlds (swamp worlds) etc in this second book. It all just felt a bit too comfortable and familiar, which is not what I want from a sci-fi read. 

Romance: ❤️❤️❤️❤️💘 

Rennik. Be still my beating heart. I guess I have a ‘thing’ for intellectual types who aren’t completely human and who can wield a sword!  Who knew? Thanks A.R.C for letting me know. Not that there are many Renniks here in the UK… 

I was also really impressed by how Lee and Ayumi’s relationship developed in this book. We need more LGBT couples like this in YA!

Characters: ❤️❤️❤️❤️💘

I loved Renna, the idea of a ship that’s alive (Farscape anyone?) works really well – she definitely felt like another character in the book! And Cade is Cade, still brutally honest with herself, still doing the ‘right’ thing, when all the evidence would suggest she should do otherwise. I liked how close the characters have grown, how comfortable they are with one another in this book; I LOVE that they all got drunk together! What author makes time for that? #booklove

Overall Rating / Addictiveness: ❤️❤️❤️❤️

You can check out my review of Entangled (book 1) here.

Book Review: Angelfall Trilogy by Susan Ee

Penryn should be picking out a prom dress, instead she’s fighting for her life, because Penryn and her family have just gotten front row tickets to the end of the world. Angels have come to Earth, bringing death and destruction, tsunamis, earthquakes and angel swords. In this new world, nobody goes to prom, nobody sends out utility bills, or cares if you skip school.

After her disabled younger sister gets kidnapped by a demon, Penryn rescues Raffe (an angel who’s had his wings cut off by the same demon) from the violent human street gangs of Silicon Valley (who want to chop him up and sell his parts) and they make a deal: He’ll help her rescue Paige, if she helps him get his wings back. This ‘deal with the devil’ keeps these two characters’ worlds intersected for three whole books. And honestly, I can see room for a forth book still.

I think this is one of my favourite trilogies OF ALL TIME. It’s smart, entertaining, heartwarming/heart-wrenching and so-good-I’m-obsessed! 

Fun Factor: ❤️❤️❤️❤️💘        Pace: ❤️❤️❤️❤️💘         Addictiveness: ❤️❤️❤️❤️💘

Suspense/Mystery: ❤️❤️❤️❤️💘

Nobody knows why the angels are here, not even the angels… And Raffe has some very dark suspicions about the truth of it.

The archangel Uriel wants nothing more than to be the next Messenger for the angelic host and he’ll scheme his way into office if he has too…

Penryn doesn’t know why a demon took her sister, or what the meager  human resistance plan to do to stop the end of the world, but she knows she wants answers. Even if their not the sort of answers anyone else would wish to hear…

World-Building: ❤️❤️❤️❤️💘

I can’t even. Just wow. This was the end of the world – with demons, monsters and humans. This was the World After and it was so real I could taste it. Please, nobody ever mention the word ‘aerie’ to me EVER AGAIN! And the fight scenes are AMAZING. I’m so grateful for Susan Ee’s awesome imagination and the fact that Penryn’s mum made her take years and years of self-defence classes in the World Before.

Romance: ❤️❤️❤️❤️💘

Raffe and Penryn = slow burn + super sexy + SHIP SHIP SHIP!!!

Characters: ❤️❤️❤️❤️💘

Penryn’s crazy, paranoid, scary-violent mum, who talks to ‘demons’ only she can hear… This woman. She made me LOL so much.  And Penryn, who’s smart, self-sufficient, loyal and never goes down without a fight – if the apocalypse comes, I want to BE her.  And Raffe, a lonely archangel warrior, who lost his ‘watchers’ eons ago to Hell – thanks to ‘Daughters of Men’ – and who is scathing and funny and who will protect Penryn, even when it’s not the smart choice. And the twins. The one nod to Harry Potter I could find. Loved these two! And Pooky Bear… My favourite fictional sword EVER!

Also, Susan Ee is a sweetie pie… You only have read the #endofdays dedication page to see that:

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