Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard Review (No Spoilers)

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Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion, all opinions are mine only.

Title: Beautiful Broken Things

Author: Sara Barnard

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Pages: 326

My Rating: 5/5 stars

I was brave
She was reckless
We were trouble

Best friends Caddy and Rosie are inseparable. Their differences have brought them closer, but as she turns sixteen Caddy begins to wish she could be a bit more like Rosie – confident, funny and interesting. Then Suzanne comes into their lives: beautiful, damaged, exciting and mysterious, and things get a whole lot more complicated. As Suzanne’s past is revealed and her present begins to unravel, Caddy begins to see how much fun a little trouble can be. But the course of both friendship and recovery is rougher than either girl realises, and Caddy is about to learn that downward spirals have a momentum of their own.

Okay, wow, I don’t even know where to begin with this book… Do I start with the end or the beginning…? Going into this book, I had no idea what to expect, but coming out of it, I was so pleasantly surprised, no wait, overwhelmed at what I just read. This story was absolutely phenomenal and something that I think the YA community has really been missing out on! A brilliantly poignant tale of how friendships are the most crucial part of teenage life- I fell head-over-heels in love with it!

So I think it’s fair to say that I was really affected by this book… the friendships and the characters were so realistic that I genuinely felt like I was reading about real people. Rosie, Caddy and Suzanne certainly were not perfect and at times they were annoying but I didn’t mind that! It made them seem more human, and then to me, all the more likeable. Barnard’s characters are so different and yet their sparse similarities are what pull them together and make their unlikely bond a lot stronger.

Like I said, at the beginning, I had no idea what I was getting into with this book, and even 100 or so pages in, I still had no idea where the story was going to go and I loved that! I loved the feeling of complete uncertainty and having no clue what was going to happen to create the inevitable story arc.

Shall we just skip to the ending? and my feels… It’s the first time I’ve talked about this since it happened but it was just beautiful. Well, not my tears. I remember really clearly the whole scene when I finished. I was lying on my bed with my head hanging off so everything was upside down and suddenly the water works just came on and I started sobbing my eyes out! I just remember my forehead getting really wet and thinking ‘this is really weird, I’m crying backwards’ but at the same time thinking ‘whyyyyy, whyyyyy!’

Ugh, I know, the feels.

For anybody who’s a fan of books, I seriously consider checking out Sara Barnard’s debut novel on the Goodreads and definitely pre-ordering it on the Amazon, you will not be disappointed!

Goodreads link- https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25437747-beautiful-broken-things?from_search=true&search_version=service

Amazon link (pre-order)-http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/150980353X?keywords=beautiful%20broken%20things&qid=1446151419&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

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Liquidator by Andy Mulligan Review (No Spoilers)

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Thank you so much to David Fickling Press for sending me a press release copy of this book in exchange for and honest review. This does not affect my opinion, all opinions are mine only.

Title: Liquidator

Author: Andy Mulligan

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Comedy, Thriller

Pages: 416

My Rating: 4.5/5

LIQUIDATOR! The brand-new, delicious and wildly popular energy drink. “For those who wanna win!” The company that makes it is set to earn a fortune, with its global launch climaxing at an international rock concert that will SHAKE the planet. The only problem?An innocent child is dying. Meet Vicky and her class-mates – their work experience is about to spin totally out of control as they uncover a secret that could change the world. And put them all in mortal danger …From the award-winning author of TRASH comes an action-packed thriller full of danger, hilarity and – above all – friendship.

When I first got my hands on this book, my first impression was how intriguing the book looked as a whole. That sounds weird but honestly this book has the full package. Spread throughout this book are emails, posters, text conversations … Everything that is mentioned in the book is visually given and that is one of my favourite things ever. I love when a book has visual elements- it really adds to the whole experience! Also, I really liked the ‘spillages’ on every page. Seeing as this book is about a drink that may not be what it seems it was really fitting to have spillages of the drink everywhere. I found it so clever how the number of spillages on each character’s pages corresponded to their traits. That sounds confusing but you’ll understand when I talk about the characters.

Okay, plot. The whole pacing of the book was so, so fast because the story was just so fluid and easy to fly through. It made me feel really great that I managed to get through a 400 page book in three or four days. I loved the whole idea of setting the story around work experience, especially as I have already don’t some work experience and I will be doing it again next year. So I really related to the feelings that the characters, especially Vicky, felt- all the stress and the tiredness and just the general teenage feels. One of the really amazing things about this book is the speed at which we got into the action. Literally, there was action 50 pages in and it was actually crucial to the story line rather than early action that doesn’t mean much… I can’t really say too much more about the plot without giving away spoilers but just know it was such a fun, fast-paced read. A hell of a ride.

Yay! Let’s move on to my favourite part of the story which was the characters! When I first saw that this book was going to be written from no less than 10 perspectives, I was a little nervous because I sometimes find it really difficult to distinguish between different character voices- sometimes they just seem a little bit too similar to me. But here, it was as if every character was a real friend of mine and I was reading about a story they’d all been on together. Also, every single character was different. Take Vicky for example. I knew from the moment i started reading about her that she was the dominant one, the leader of the group. It was the fact that she had so many more chapters than anybody else that told me that. Edgar. I could tell that he was gay and that he had a crush on….. someone, I’m not going to say who- read it to find out! He was my favourite character because he gave me all the feels and he was just so adorable. I won’t comment on all ten characters but there are two more that deserve honourable mentions. First is Michael. Remember earlier when I said that the spillages on the pages represented each characters traits? Well Michael’s pages were completely clean if that tells you anything. I sussed him out to be the OCD, scared of everything child who wanted to be somebody but was brought up in such a way that he didn’t know how. And I was right, hopefully. Lastly is KatKat, wow she was a character. I think she was a little full of herself but didn’t exactly know it. She just had little touches. Like the way she named all her chapters dramatic things and no one else did. She made me giggle.

As you can probably grasp by now, there is a hugely eclectic mix of characters and character traits which I absolutely loved and gave the story a whole new dimension. Each character went on a completely different work experience but the way in which Andy Mulligan weaves it all together is practically ingenious. I loved his writing style and the way everything flowed so fluidly, it was just perfect. There was never a moment where I felt confused or as if the story was lacking in some sort of edge or plot twist. This book covers every genre and I had such a good time reading this.

Highly, highly recommended and I wouldn’t mind giving this a re-read some time in the future!

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27223936-liquidator

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, Review (No Spoilers)

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This is a world divided by blood – red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart…

I’m sure most of you will know about this book and there have definitely been some incredibly mixed things going around about it. I mean, some people really hate this book and they just cannot see and differences between this and any other YA books and then there are some who absolutely love this book and have it as one of their favourite books of 2015.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this and I really don’t see how people could hate it as much as they do. but I’m also not obsessed with it like some people. That does not mean it’s a bad book, honestly I really enjoyed it and I read it so fast and trust me, the betrayal was on point!

Okay, let’s back up a bit and talk about plot. The initial plot of this, I felt, was a dead end and I couldn’t see anywhere it could go. I also thought the separate elements didn’t fit together and I was so so confused… But when I persevered and pressed on and everything began to unravel I was so surprised! There were actually times when I was reading the book and something happened that was so unexpected, I had to put the book down and go for a walk and generally catch my breathe. No joke.

The idea of separate societies is definitely not unique, but the idea of division by blood is something that I really enjoyed and was really unique to me. I really like how Victoria Aveyard made you question something that should be so obvious- who was Silver and who was Red and then once you think you’ve finally sussed it out, everything just flips around and confuses you! I think I yelled multiple times whilst reading this book. Honestly, if you want all the fangirl feels then you should really check out this book!

I think my favourite character in the whole book was… Cal. Or Mare… I can’t tell. But let me tell you, I ship those two so much! I can’t tell whether there was a purposeful love triangle going on… I don’t think I ever hated Cal who I think we were pushed to try and hate for a while. The only thing I could possibly question about Mare is that she doesn’t like any other female character and I think that’s really sad and maybe she’d be happier if she had just one girl she could connect with… that’s all I can say…

I absolutely loved Victoria Aveyard’s writing style. I found it to be so fluid and I just whizzed through the book so fast because her writing was so suspenseful and mysterious and I just needed to know what happened because every chapter ended on a cliffhanger which resulted in me reading 100s of pages in one sitting.

I would highly recommend this book to anybody who is looking for a suspenseful dystopian with all the fangirl feels and a fast pace. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I recommend it to anybody who just likes books!

Red Queen Goodreads link- https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17878931-red-queen?from_search=true&search_version=service

Trial By Fire by Josephine Angelini Review (No Spoilers)

Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  
Title: Trial by Fire

Author: Josephine Angelini

Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Pages: 373

My Rating: 3.75/5

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But 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 cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily’s other self in this alternate universe.


What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected. 

This review has been one of the hardest I have ever had to write. I just don’t know what to say. I have never read a book about alternate worlds before and therefore, I have nothing to compare this book too. When I first heard about this book, I thought the concept sounded completely unique and that is one of the things that really stood out to me about this book. The overall theme was ‘alternate worlds’, and yet there were elements of science and even a few hints of comedy in there which I thought came together as a very eclectic mix.

Plot-wise, I could say that there is something in this book for everyone. There’s romance in there, you’ve got some science and some fantasy too, there’s also a strong sense of friendship and teamwork as well as a sense of war in this book which just adds to the overall individuality of the book. However, I have to say, I found the plot a little confusing at times with who was who and what was where and where we were. Sometimes I felt like we were just expected to know all of this without adequate introduction. Also, I didn’t appreciate the sudden introduction of multi perspective. I liked that we did get to see other peoples’ views and I feel the story would’ve lacked a lot if it were not for that, but I think a new chapter with the characters name at the top would have helped all the readers distinguish who’s perspective we were seeing the story from. For example, when this was first introduced- through Gideon’s perspective, I thought we were still reading from Lily’s point of view and found myself very confused through half of the first paragraph, and then, on realisation, had to go back and re-read over that same paragraph.

On the subject of chapters, there are only 15 chapters in the whole book. Now, I don’t know if this actually a notable observation on this book in particular, but for me, I find it so much easier to read a book if it has shorter chapters. This is probably why it took me so long to read this book and I almost found myself in a slump at the end of it. When a book has small chapters, I find that I want to keep reading and reading and I’ll feel so accomplished if I’ve read 5 chapters rather than just 1. However, this might just be my personal preference.

Now, moving onto characters. I think my favourite of the characters would have to be Rowan and I definitely ship Rowan and Lily together (none of this Lily and Tristan nonsense… Oh no…) I loved the way Rowan was at home anywhere no matter what and he would always manage to make it seem glamorous even though it really wasn’t. I don’t know exactly what it is that makes me like him more than Tristan but there’s just something, that’s usually what happens with love-triangles anyway. I have to admit though… Just before the middle, I was a little bit of a Tristan fan… God how embarrasing… I just couldn’t get over Tristan from the beginning and I can never fully trust him after that… But you have to read the book to find out what that is… Well… Despite the fact that I once had a small crush on Tristan and Rowan is my favourite characters, I wouldn’t put either of them on my fictional boyfriends list… Well, maybe Rowan? I haven’t thought about that much…

I should say a few words about the heroine, Lily Procter… I did really like Lily, and sometimes I found her to be really relatable and funny which is what I was hoping to see out of a character who has just been transported to an alternate world… However, sometimes I found her to be really annoying and she got into arguments for no reason in order to push the story forward. I also found that she just accepted everything from only being told once, like the idea that Lillian is evil which is a concept I didn’t grasp at all in the very beginning. One last thing I found confusing was the way Lily managed to master some of the most difficult magic straight away… This is making me doubt how powerful the magic is if someone can grasp it straight away based off pure, god-given talent. I found this unrealistic… Well, for magic.

Sorry this was a bad review, I just really had no idea what to write and I hope I wasn’t too harsh. I don’t like writing negative reviews…

Just a disclaimer, I definitely going to be continuing the series with the second book closer to the release of the final book in the trilogy.

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20613491-trial-by-fire?from_search=true&search_version=service

Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa Review (No Spoilers)

Thank you so much Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me a press release copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Fans of the Impossible Life

Author: Kate Scelsa

Genre: Yound Adult, LGBT, Contemporary.

Pages: 336

Release Date: September 8 2015

My Rating: 4.5/5

A girl, her gay best friend, and the boy who’s in love with both of them.
Fans of the Impossible Life is the story of love, loss, growing up and the magic – and terror – of finding friends who truly see the person you are and the person you’re trying to become. It’s a story about rituals and love, and of those transformative friendships that burn hot and change you, but might not last.
SEBBY seems to carry sunlight around with him. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and his best friend Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.
MIRA is starting over at St. Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.
JEREMY is the painfully shy art nerd at St. Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting him.
As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.

The overall premise of this book, I have to say, confused me no end. Before I started this book, I thought I would have trouble remembering which character was which and how I would distinguish each from each other. I also thought that there wasn’t anywhere to go… From the blurb I thought that a really interesting setting had been made but there was no situation to throw at the characters that had been so delicately crafted.

I have never been happier to be wrong. As soon as I opened the book, I found myself hooked on the story and the characters. The characters were definitely the most interesting element of the whole story- I loved each and every one of them individually and together in different ways because they were just so diverse!

So, you’ve got your goody-goody nerd Jeremy who is so shy because of an event that happened at his school resulting in him being bullied. At the beginning of the book he is unsure about his sexuality but with two dads taking care of him, he knows that he will be respected whichever way he decides to go.

Then you have Mira. A depressed, lonely girl who finds light in the form of her best friend Sebby. With a strict parental structure at home, Mira finds her parents constant praise for her elder sister a real annoyance as her family make it quite clear they believe she’s odd. Mira is a very interesting character and she is more complex than you realise at first glance. When you think you know everything about Mira- think again.

And finally, you have the beautiful Sebby who is outright gay and leader of a seemingly simple life. However, Sebby has so many secrets that you begin to wonder how he goes around with such a happy attitude. Sebby would probably be my favourite of the three if I really had to pick because he is the reason that this book stands out against so many other YA contemporaries. He is strong and yet weak the same time and the little strength he possesses, he only projects while he’s around the people who he believes need it more than him.

When the three main characters are together, their lives are so different from when they are apart and I really appreciated having both sides of their stories. Particularly with Sebby, you begin to realise, as you go further through the story, that you really don’t know a thing about their past and it’s a really emotional moment when you find out how they came to be the way they are. The plot line is, at times, a bit random, but I think that really encapsulates how broken and fragile everyone is- giving them the excuse that they should live for the moment. This book really shows the characters emotions in the harshest lights possible and Kate Scelsa really isn’t afraid to throw rocks at her characters- like really big boulders, huge huge rocks!

The writing was simple yet perfectly suited to the tone of the book and made me feel for the characters and really connect with them- particularly in tough situations. This book had me laughing out loud through the most of it and then, by the end, I was sobbing unexpectedly because I hadn’t realised how deeply I connected with the characters. I really visualised everything well and there was never a moment where I was confused or wondering where something had come from or who something was. Judging what I just said, you could say that this book is easy reading, and at times it really does feel like it, but when it gets to the times when taboo subjects are mentioned- you realise how wonderfully clever this book is to make such and awkward topic so fun and light-hearted (for the most part) to read about!

I highly, highly recommend Fans of the Impossible Life to anyone interested in contemporaries and anyone who is looking for something a bit different. You will not be disappointed. A real laugh-out-loud, tear-jerker this one! What a journey!

Goodreads link- https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25965908-fans-of-the-impossible-life

A Thousand Nights by E.K Johnston Review (No Spoilers)

Thank you very much Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me a proof copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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Title: A Thousand Nights

Author: E.K Johnston

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 259

Release Date: 22nd October 2015

My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

The Most Dangerous Love Story Ever Told. 

Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to my village, looking for a wife. 

When Lo-Melkhiin- a formidable king- arrives at her desert home, she knows he will take her beautiful sister for a wife. Desperate to save her sister from certain death, she makes the ultimate sacrifice- leaving home and family behind to live with a fearful man. 

But it seems strange magic flows between her and Lo-Melkhiin, and night after night, she survives. Finding power in storytelling, the words she speaks are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. But she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic, powerful enough to save a king… If only she can stop her heart from falling for a monster. 

Set against a harsh desert backdrop, A Thousand Nights by E.K Johnston is an evocative tale of love, mystery and magic that would not feel out of place if Scheherazade herself were telling it. 

And perhaps she is…

Okay, overall I absolutely loved this story. I thought the plot was detailed and imaginative and at times, really unpredictable. I think the plot was one of my favourite parts about the book as a whole. 

When I first picked up this book, I was initially afraid that’s there wasn’t much room to roam around in in terms of storyline- but E.K Johnston took the story in a direction that I did not even think was possible and that opened up the potential for so much more. As the story progressed, I discovered more and more about the characters and was able to piece together certain parts of the story without being blatantly told. This gave me a sense of accomplishment and made the story all the more enjoyable. 

In terms of pacing, I found that, at the beginning at least, the story was a bit slow and dragged on a little. This meant that I had to re-read previous paragraphs or even whole chapters to gain a better insight to the story until the 100-page mark. As soon as I reached the 100-page mark, I was flying through the story so fast simply because I then understood what was going on and found the turn of events to be so gripping- I needed to know what was going on!!!

E.K Johnston has been so clever with her characters that it adds an element of mystery to the whole book. There is only one named character in the whole book- Lo-Melkhiin. Others may have names that were given to them by the king, but we never find out their true names- letting us think that Lo-Melkhiin scarred them so much, they simply forgot. The lead figure herself had no name, she is supposedly meant to be a Scheherazade figure or perhaps even Scheherazade herself. This was such a clever thing to do because it has given me a whole new view on One Thousand and One Nights. The Scheherazade figure was so relatable in that she was only doing what was right to protect the people she loved- not so she could die a small God, which is so often seen in young adult fiction now. Her motives and actions were exactly what I, myself, would have done and, to me, that just made the story all the more interesting. 

I loved the elements of magic and demons in this book. I loved the way the demons were portrayed and the way that they had their own narration so that we really understood what reasoning they had for doing what they do. The magic the main narrator herself possesses is described so clearly that it made me want to have that magic too and those amazing abilities. I really appreciated the difficulty it took her to come into her power and the speed at which it developed made it seem all the more powerful. 

In a nutshell, I really, really enjoyed this book- I found the plot line to be unpredictable and gripping, the characters to be relatable and loveable and the world to be detailed and beautiful (particularly the qasr) and this is why it deserved the 4 stars that it got. The only thing that let it down for me was the pacing although it definitely picked up as the story progressed. 

Just before I read this book, I went on a week long orchestra course (explaining my absence) where I fittingly played the music Scheherazade, based on the book One Thousand and One Nights. This really got me into the mood to read this book so I really recommend giving it a listen before diving into this book or any other based off One Thousand and One Nights. 

Are You Still There? by Sarah Lynn Scheerger Review (No Spoilers)

Thank you NetGalley and Snook Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, I just finished Are You Still There by Sarah Lynn Scheerger and I really enjoyed it! I found the storyline to be so easy to fall into and so gripping! I loved the suspense and I think Scheerger kept the sense of mystery going throughout which definitely puts this book into the category of books that are so quick and easy to read. I loved it!

Let’s talk about characters. One of the most beautiful features about this book is how unique and individual each character is. Each of them had completely different traits that set them aside from the rest of the group but because they were so different, they had a great connection. One of my favourite characters was Janae, I thought she was so interesting and funny and so not who I would imagine Gabi to be friends with that it was so refreshing to see people who are stereotypically opposite so at ease together. That was another thing I loved about this book. It was so powerful and wasn’t afraid to teach a lesson about very delicate topics like suicide and bullying and terrorism. Scheerger handled these topics so delicately and her free prose through the Stranger’s Manifestos captured this beautifully.

Related to this, I think that the final reveal was so poignant and I definitely did not clock the ending which was so refreshing as I thought I had figured it out straight away! This is probably one of the only mystery books I have ever read and I am so glad I got sent this because I am now searching and searching for more and more mystery books! However, I’m afraid that no one will be able to captivate me like Sarah Lynn Scheerger did! The plot was so gripping and the twists were so unexpected and they were written so normally so you have to read the same sentence over and over again until it actually sinks in.
Put the book down. Breathe. Pick the book back up again.
Honestly guys I would recommend this book so much, it is so fast-paced and so unexpected. Really recommend.

Thank you guys so much for reading this! All my social media links are down below, including the Goodreads link for Are You Still There by Sarah Lynn Scheerger.

Are You Still There Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25361860-are-you-still-there

My Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/38362004-caitlin

Twitter- @proudfangirl100

Instagram- @_proudfangirl_