Am I finally getting too old for YA? The (fantastic) Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy – Laini Taylor

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Recommended, teen book reviews, Uncategorized, Writing


Stunning, secretive Karou has lived a strange life in different cities, never putting down roots or having a real family. But that’s because she lives at least half of her life elsewhere – in another world, where a strange monster who is the closest thing she has to a parent sends her on missions to collect teeth. But when angels, and one particular, very handsome angel, crash into her world and a supernatural, inter-universal war that has continued through centuries…

Obviously I can’t really summarise three action and emotion packed books above, but that gives the kind of basic setting. This is a huge, ambitious, far-reaching and cataclysmic trilogy with exceptionally strong world-building, well established foundations and sympathetic characters who weave their way compellingly through gripping circumstances. It’s got gorgeous young adults who fall passionately in love, it’s got supernatural powers, friendship, betrayal, crazy monsters… just all you could possibly need from a YA fantasy series. And in many ways, I loved it. But in the end I think I’m left feeling I’m just a bit too old.

Advertisements

Realia – more teen magic, adventure and friendship in Noni’s second instalment

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, teen book reviews, Writing, Writing Thoughts


Alexandra Jennings is back for her second year at Akarnae Academy in the magical world of Medora that she stumbled into by mistake last year. The enemies are still out to get her, the professors to teach her lessons she never thought she’d need to learn, and her friends to support and surprise her along the way. We explore the world more, and understand a bit better what’s going on.

Here we jump straight back into the world and into adventure, with Alexandra once again in danger, in deep with her friends and fighting for what she believes is right. So much so that it hardly seemed like a separate book to the first one (and I’m having a little trouble separating them in my mind) and so, like the first, is basically just tremendous fun.

More fun teen Egyptian melodrama in Recreated by Colleen Houck

children's books, teen book reviews, Uncategorized, Writing Thoughts


Lily has been trying to adjust to normal life after her gorgeous supernatural, ancient Egyptian boyfriend Amon disappeared to save the world from chaos, but it’s just not working. It comes as a slight relief when the god Anubis turns up at her grandmother’s house to say they need her help again – Amon is trapped in the Netherworld and Lily is the only one who can save him. But it’s not an easy process, and involves becoming a sphinx, a huge change that will affect Lily forever…

I knew exactly what to expect from this book having read and enjoyed the first book. A  action packed teen adventure packed with drama and spirit, plus a load of gorgeous gods and a plucky heroine. It didn’t disappoint, and I think I actually enjoyed this one more. It felt more confident, and focussed more on Lily as a character rather than Amon, which I really enjoyed.

All of the feels – intense teen friendships in Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, teen book reviews, Uncategorized

 

Caddy and Rosie have been best friends for, like, forever. But when the beautiful and mysterious Suzanne appears in Rosie’s world, Caddy is jealous at first. But when she gets to know Suzanne better she finds herself drawn into a new friendship unlike anything she has ever experienced, and finds herself doing things she had never done before…

When I came to read this book I didn’t expect to enjoy it. I can distinctly remember wondering why on earth I had ever requested it. It just didn’t seem to be the sort of thing I’d read. But… I really enjoyed it. It very clearly illustrated teenage girl friendship, with the intensity and the drama that it can bring. I found myself complete engrossed in the lives of Caddy, Rosie and Suzanne, and pulled into the teenage emotion that was so rich throughout. I think I cried.

This book was basically a drawn out introduction but I still kind of enjoyed it – The Raven’s Head by Karen Maitland

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, teen book reviews, Uncategorized

IMG_0521

A little boy is removed from his family and renamed, forced to live in a monastery with other boys in fear and horror at the secret rites they are submitted to. A scribe, angered by his lowly status, tries to trick his way to power, but finds himself on a long journey carrying a precious and treacherous silver ravens head. And a young girl is drawn unwillingly into the spells, potions, schemes and obsessions of the evil Lord who her village shunsAs their stories weave forward the three are drawn closer together by forces they cannot explain or escape.

I quite enjoyed reading this book. The world and mysteries created were interesting and fairly enjoyable to spend time in, but the action seemed too slow, and the characters not sufficiently fleshed out to sustain my attention any further. So I’m glad to read this one… but despite it being the set up to a whole series, I’m not tempted to embark on the rest of the journey.

A symphonic dystopian luxury of a novel – The Chimes by Anna Smaill (out this week!)

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, literary london, London, Recommended

IMG_9258

How did you arrive in London? This question haunts Simon as he remembers snippets, through catches of songs and the old Burberry coat he got from somewhere. As he befriends Lucien, he gradually starts to grasp onto his history in this world where music is meaning, text or meaning is blasphony and what they discover changes everything. He and Lucien must seek to understand the system that traps people in their present moment.

Oh my! I loved this book. I really loved it. From it’s arrival as a beautiful hardback with a stunning cover to finishing the last page and wishing I could go on reading it was a complete pleasure. Original ideas, lovely prose and a wonderful flow to the story that actually felt like music.

The impulsive teen main character trope: illustrated in Captive by Aimee Carter

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, teen book reviews, Writing Thoughts

IMG_8344

Lila Hart is really Kitty Doe. She was somehow persuaded it was for the good of the resistance for her to impersonate the niece of the President, and does so begrudgingly, pretending to be engaged to the bossy Knox and longing for her loving boyfriend Benjy. But her impulsive decisions and confusion over who to trust lead to an attempt to escape – but she is caught sent to the mysterious Elsewhere, where again she finds herself torn between fleeing for her freedom or fighting for her country.

The set up was good here. Why is she impersonating someone? What secrets does this strange society hold? Is Knox really on her side? What has happened to make society like this? Will Kitty be able to keep up the pretence? Why did the real Lila go into hiding? The story was gripping and pacy… but ultimately let down by the characters.

Hitler’s fictional niece’s compelling story – well-placed historical wondering in Anne Blankman’s Prisoner of Night and Fog.

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Recommended, teen book reviews, Uncategorized

IMG_7917

Gretchen’s father sacrificed himself to save Hitler, and so her family has lived in his favour ever since. But when a stranger questions her father’s death everything Gretchen believes is turned upside down and she is determined to find the truth. Helped by the strangely kind Jew Daniel her quest, hindered by her distant and strange brother and her changing relationship with Hitler and the powerful National Socialist party, leads her to bold and subversive ideas that change her life forever.

Will we ever tire of stories of the wars and of Hitler? I don’t know – but I certainly haven’t. Set in Munich as Hitler’s power rises, Gretchen’s position as an honorary-niece gives a unique perspective of his personality and the tensions of Germany in the period. But really it is Gretchen and her story that is the focus; and this is fascinating in itself. Add in the ever-popular topic of the beginnings of psychoanalysis and you’ve got a winner!

Cute if contrived – The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Uncategorized

IMG_7493

When the lights go out on New York City strangers Owen and Lucy find themselves trapped in a lift. They end up experiencing the magic of the night together, but are torn apart just a week later to a journeys through America and Europe that take them ever further away from each other. Can a few postcards conquer the miles that divide them?

This was a fun, harmless teen romance. I sped through it easily and enjoyed it. There’s not much depth or complexity to it but the characters are charming, the exploration of different places interesting and plot fun.

Grippingly Good though not Overly Original – Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Book Reviews, Book Thoughts, Recommended, Uncategorized

IMG_6672

Darrow is a Red mining on Mars for the future of humanity. But when his wife sacrifices herself his worldview is shattered as he realises his people are slaves to the grandeur and luxury of the already-built Gold empire on Mars and beyond. The resistance movement saves his life then channel his anger to turn him into a Gold, sending him to the illustrious Institute which turns out to contain a year-long bloody battle of the Roman god inspired Houses, with the mandate to overthrow the system.

Though many (okay, most) elements of the world set-up and plot are familiar this book is gripping, pacy and thrilling as it races through a big, emotion and action-packed plot stuffed with intense characters, intriguing situations and a multi-layered world. I dashed through it in just two days.