Friday, 14 November 2014

Review: The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl
by Melissa Keil

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Alba loves her life just as it is. She loves living behind the bakery, and waking up in a cloud of sugar and cinnamon. She loves drawing comics and watching bad TV with her friends.

The only problem is she’s overlooked a few teeny details:

Like, the guy she thought long gone has unexpectedly reappeared.
And the boy who has been her best friend since forever has suddenly gone off the rails.
And even her latest comic-book creation is misbehaving.

Also, the world might be ending – which is proving to be awkward.

As Doomsday enthusiasts flock to idyllic Eden Valley, Alba’s life is thrown into chaos. Whatever happens next, it’s the end of the world as she knows it. But when it comes to figuring out her heart, Armageddon might turn out to be the least of her problems.

My Review:
So I adored Melissa Keil's first book Life in Outer Space and was so excited when I heard about her new YA novel The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl. I was dying to read it so when a copy of the book turned up for my birthday last month I was over the moon!

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl follows comic book lover and illustrator Sarah Jane Albany, known to everyone as Alba, and her friends as they decide what to do with their lives now school is over. As if all that wasn't enough to deal with, a viral YouTube video about the end of the world has seen hundreds of people descend on Alba's small town causing chaos.

I loved this book, like absolutely adored it. And it's so hard to know where to start! I think Alba is pretty much the best thing about the book. She was such a refreshing character and felt a lot more relatable than a lot of the characters I've read. There's a confidence about her which is striking, particularly when it comes to her views on herself and her body image. It makes such a nice change to read about a female character who isn't obsessing about what she looks like or how hideous she is, but is so clearly comfortable in her own skin.

I could also relate a lot to Alba's frustrations when it comes to her drawing. Throughout the book she's working on sketches and comic strips featuring her character Cinnamon Girl, only she can't seem to find the direction she wants to go with it. I think anyone who's creative will be able to recognise that struggle to take your ideas and channel them into something. I thought it was really smart how Alba's challenges with her character kind of reflected what was happening in her own life as well.

I also loved the way Keil has captured those uncertainties you have about the future, which are especially prevalent when you're a teenager. There are so many choices Alba and her friends have to make, all of which will affect the balance of their friendship. I think we've all been in situations where change is on the horizon and you dread the inevitability of things being different and friends drifting apart, so you cling on desperately to the present where things are happy and comfortable. I thought it was clever how the addition of Daniel, someone from Alba's past, really helped shake things up and made Alba question things even more.

Then there's Grady, Alba's wonderfully sweet childhood friend. The two of them have a beautiful relationship which is really put to the test throughout the story. I adored Grady and the chemistry between him and Alba. I just couldn't help becoming completely invested with what happened between the two of them and was riding the ups and downs of their friendship right there with them!

Melissa Keil has also nailed the humour in The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl. When Alba and her friends were just hanging out, I felt like I was right there with them, sharing in the fun. The dialogue was so spot on and Alba's inner monologue kept me grinning throughout. The writing in general was amazing, from the little details like the food cooked at the bakery (it made you hungry just reading!) to these wonderfully developed characters you came to love and adore.

The whole storyline of the end of the world being just around the corner was something that really drove the plot on, even though it was just something in the background of Alba's mind.  Really the book is all about the characters, their decisions and how they're reflecting on their past as they start to plan their futures.

I can't recommend this book highly enough. I think everyone will find something in The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl that will make them look back at their own teenage years, or a time in their lives when big changes were happening, and stir up those feelings again. Spending time with Alba as she makes hers' was an absolute pleasure.

Rating: 5*

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Back With a Book Haul and my Booktube Debut!

Hello everyone! Sorry for the blog silence lately. Real life has gotten in the way but I had things I wanted to share so I'm back for a brief spell. It's taken me a while to get round to making this post but if you follow me on Twitter then you'll probably have seen me talk about it already!

Last week I met up with my friend Daisy who just so happens to be an awesome booktuber. We've known each other since before we started book blogging and it's been really fun having somebody I can chat to about all things books on our blogging journeys! So we finally got to make a video for her channel which was so much fun. We did the Reading Habits tag together and you can watch it below (I'm the one on the right!):

We also went book shopping (because duh, you have to go book shopping with a fellow book blogger!) and I picked up the following books:

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
The Manifesto on How to be Interesting by Holly Bourne

I've been slowly collecting The Mortal Instruments series because I borrowed the books when I read them originally. I have every book except City of Heavenly Fire now - which I still haven't read! So I'm re-reading the series in the build up.

And after reading and adoring Soulmates I decided that I will read every book Holly Bourne ever writes based purely on that, so I squealed and danced about when I saw her new book on the shelves. I also persuaded Daisy to buy Soulmates, hurrah!

I've acquired a few books this week as well. I had a WHSmith gift card with some money left on it so I used it to by the final two books in The Maze Runner trilogy - The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure by James Dashner.

I really enjoyed the first one and with the film being released this year, I'm even more excited to get back into that world.

I also picked up a few charity shop bargains. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen, Angel by L.A Weatherly and Lyra's Oxford by Phillip Pullman. The first two I've wanted to read for a while, and I'm currently in the middle of a series re-read of His Dark Materials so it'll by nice to add Lyra's Oxford into that!

So that's what's been happening with me lately! Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments! And as always, you can keep up with me on Twitter @TotalTeenFic

Monday, 30 June 2014

Film Review: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars

Released: 19th June 2014
Running time: 126 minutes
Director: Josh Boone
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff

Plot summary (from IMDB):
Hazel and Gus are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps them on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous given that Hazel's other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prosthetic leg, and they met and fell in love at a cancer support group.
My review:
I was both excited and nervous when I found out The Fault in Our Stars was being adapted into a film. Yes, I adored the book, but film adaptations so rarely compare to their source material. And this book felt particularly precious for some reason. After seeing the film, I can honestly say that I had no need for nerves. It was pretty much perfect.

What was great about the film was that for large parts of it, I forgot about the book. I was so wrapped up in the characters on screen that I wasn't cross-checking every line and scene for how book-faithful it was. I was just so lost in what was a brilliantly entertaining, funny, sad and moving film. I think that'll be great for cinema goers who haven't read the book, because it does hold its own.

The casting was phenomenal, especially Ansel Elgort as Gus. He was just so charasmatic and funny, and got Gus' humour spot on. He was easily the best thing about the film for me. Shailene Woodley as Hazel was brilliant too, particularly during the more heart-wrenching scenes. Her performance is some of those key moments really blew me away. Even though Nat Wolff's Isaac played a smaller part than the book, he still completely stole those scenes he was in.

As for fans of the book, it's an amazing adaptation. There were so many scenes that looked like they were plucked right out of my head. I had to go away and reflect on how I thought it compared to the book because I thought about it so little during the actual film. I don't think I've seen a film that came so close. I adored the scenes in Amsterdam, especially the moments in the Anne Frank house and the scenes in the hotel. I love the cameo of the swing set, and Gus and Hazel's Dutch themed picnic, the inclusion of some all-important quotes. There was so much attention to detail.

Most importantly, the book managed to get the humour bang on. Whilst so many people talk about both the book and film being sad, my favourite thing about the book has always been the humour and how it made me laugh. And the film did the same. Before the cinema broke down into a collective sob fest (I've seriously never been in a room with so many crying people before!) there were plenty of laughs.

So basically I loved it.

Rating: 5*

Friday, 20 June 2014

Book Haul! 20th June

It's been a while since I last did a book haul, so these books are pretty spread out over the last month or so, but I wanted to share some of the titles I've picked up recently!


 These were all charity shop bargains, because I just can't resist! I don't actually own any of Cassandra Clare's books as I devolped a tradition of borrowing them from my best friend. She's still reading City of Heavenly Fire so I haven't managed to snag that off her yet!

I fell into Waterstones recently where I picked up Picture Perfect and We Were Liars. I've already read Picture Perfect and I'm halfway through We Were Liars, which I bought because of the hype! I ordered myself a copy of Graduation Day after seeing I was quoted in it - yay!

Bought for Kindle:

I snapped these both up for under £1. I'm super excited for Butter as it seems like exactly the kind of contemporary fiction I love. The Distance Between Us has been on my wishlist for a while. I've heard mixed things but for 96p you can't go wrong.

Kindle freebies:

I've loved the two books by Jack Croxall I've read so far so I snapped up his short story too. Halo was something I came across whilst browsing the Kindle store and I just can't resist YA dystopia.


And finally these were the books my mum picked up for me from a second hand bookstall at her work. Some classics in there I can't wait to finally read!

Have you read any of these books? Let me know if there's anything I should read first! What books have you got your hands on recently? I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Review: Picture Perfect (Geek Girl, #3) by Holly Smale

Spoiler warning! This book is the 3rd book in the Geek Girl series and this review may contain spoilers from previous books. If you haven't read previous books, then you can read my review of book 1 Geek Girl here and book 2 Model Misfit here instead.

 Geek Girl: Picture Perfect by Holly Smale

Author: Holly Smale Website|Twitter
Published: 5 June 2014 (HarperCollins Children's Books)
Format: Hardback
Buy the book: Amazon|Hive|Waterstone's
Buy the e-book: Kindle|Kobo

Source: Bought

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
"My name is Harriet Manners, and I'll always be a geek."

It's the hilarious third book in the No.1 bestselling, award winning GEEK GIRL series!

Harriet Manners knows more facts that most. She knows that New York is the most populous city in the United States. She knows that its official motto is "Ever Upward". She knows that 28% of Americans believe we never landed on the moon.

But she knows nothing about modelling in the Big Apple, and how her family will cope with life stateside. Or how to "become a brand", as the models in New York put it. And, even more importantly, what to do when the big romantic gestures aren't coming from your boyfriend...

Does geek girl go too far this time?

The laugh out loud follow-up to award winning GEEK GIRL and MODEL MISFIT will have you in stitches.

My Review:
I absolutely adored the first two Geek Girl books and jumped at the opportunity to buy a gorgeous shiny copy of the third book in hardcover! I was in need of a reading pick-me-up, having been in a bit of a slump lately, and knowing how much I laughed through the previous books, I couldn't wait to get stuck in.

Picture Perfect sees Harriet faced with the opportunity of a lifetime when her family heads stateside to New York. Only Harriet being Harriet, nothing quite goes to plan for her. She's got a new baby sister, a long distance boyfriend and now she's leaving her friends behind. That's a lot to deal with!

For anyone who, like me, loved Geek Girl and Model Misfit, you won't be disappointed. Picture Perfect had me giggling from the beginning and within the first few sentences I was so delighted to be reunited with Harriet. She is just as hilarious as ever, and the opening few pages where she discusses her new role as a girlfriend were fantastic. I think she perfectly encapsulates young love and all the hopes and dreams you have at that age. For a lot of the book we see her inner thoughts about her relationship which I think will be relatable to anybody who has ever liked anyone as a teenager. Scribbling in your diary, dreaming up how conversations will turn out, reliving those prescious moments from over the summer - it was all just spot on.

Seeing Harriet facing the start of sixth form and exam results also brought back a lot of memories! The nerves and anticipation, and not just about the grades themselves, but about how your life will change. I loved seeing how Harriet and Nat tried to plan their friendship, overcoming the barriers of being at different schools come September, and giggled over the effort Harriet is putting into her new school bag and wardrobe for a non-uniform sixth former - giggled because I know it all so well from my own experiences! I was right there with her.

Being the third book in the series, there's a great mix of new and returning characters. I loved seeing the old faces and jet-setting off to a new place gave Harriet the chance to meet some new ones. It kept the story feeling fresh and exciting. Like with Model Misfit (which had scenes that took place in Tokyo), I thought the escapism of the New York scenes made it even more exciting to read. I can see this being a perfect summer holiday read!

Holly Smale has the ability to have me absolutely hooked to the pages and grin like a mad woman. I adore her writing, the humour and her ability to create these characters you wish would come to life so you could hang out with them. The book captures the ups and downs of teenage life so brillianty, dealing with the family dramas and school bullies in a way that makes you really root for the main character, in this case our wonderful Harriet.
I can't wait to read more of Harriet's adventures. I demolished this book in one evening and I know I will re-read this series whenever I need that mood boost! These books never fail to disappoint.

Rating: 5*
What to read next: The next Geek Girl book is scheduled for 2015
Books like this: Geekhood: Close Encounters of the Girl Kind by Andy Robb, Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Review: Unwoven (Tethers, #2) by Jack Croxall

Spoiler warning! This is the 2nd book in the Tethers trilogy and this book may contain spoilers from the previous book. You can read my review of Tethers here instead. 

Unwoven by Jack Croxall

Author: Jack Croxall Website|Twitter
Published: 24 February 2014
Format: Kindle e-book (review copy)
Pages: 115
Buy the e-book: Kindle

Source: Received free copy of the author in exchange for an honest review.

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Almost eighteen months on from the terrible events of Halholham and so much has changed.

Karl and Esther no longer speak to one another and Mr Cauldwell has been ostracised by Shraye and its fickle residents. But the trio will not be parted for much longer because a shadow is growing in the west, a shadow which will reunite them in the name of all they have lost.

Unwoven is the sequel to the best-selling adventure novel, Tethers, and is the second book of The Tethers Trilogy.

My Review:
I really enjoyed Tethers and so I was excited to be offered the opportunity to read the sequel. Unwoven follows Karl and Esther as they must rebuild their relationship to get to the bottom of mysterious events happening around them.

It's been a while since I read Tethers, so I was a little nervous about going into this book without having had chance to re-read. What was great about Unwoven was that it flies into the action straight away, which stopped me worrying and had me absorbed in the story instantly. I was soon able to piece together what had happened previously. There was no lengthy recap, but more the characters were able to reflect on previous events within the story and through talking to each other about what happened which worked really well.

With a mysterious death early on in the book, it hooked me in at once. Both Karl and Esther are personally caught up the event which gives them that drive to get to the bottom of it. I loved that the author has set them out on a journey again, as I could get lost with them on their adventure. Reading it I had that sense of journeying with them on a sort of quest to find out what was going on.

I liked that the book has its own mysteries that help it stand alone, but that you can tell the series is building to something bigger. I think it helps that like with Tethers, this book has an epilogue and prologue which help give you a bigger picture of what is going on as well as teasing the action. The world the author has created has so much potential to explore, with its own legends and villains that really capture you as a reader.

Once again I loved the balance of their personalities. Esther is quite fiery whereas are Karl seems to consider things a bit more. I thought it made for an interesting relationship this time as they start the book not speaking to each other. I really felt for Karl throughout those opening few chapters as he battles with Esther. And as for Esther herself, I could sympathise with her as the author has done a great job at showing how the traumas she goes through have affected her. She has an awful lot to deal with.

As with the first book, I was impressed with the writing. Unwoven is quite a short book at just over one hundred pages, which meant I finished it within a morning, but it still felt jam packed with action. Everything flowed really well and despite its short length, I never had any issues with the pacing.

I'm left wanting to know more which means I'll be very keen to read the next instalment! I've become so wrapped up with the characters that I need to know their fates, and I can't wait to discover answers to the questions left over.

Rating: 4*
What to read next: The 3rd book in the trilogy, Torn, is planned for 2015.
Books like this: Sky Song by Sharon Sant, The Last Falcon by Colleen Ruttan

Monday, 9 June 2014

Review: Before You Sleep (In Your Dreams, #3) by Amy Martin

Spoiler warning! This is the 3rd book in the In Your Dreams series and this review will contain spoilers from previous books. You can read my review of In Your Dreams here or As You Wake here instead. 

Before You Sleep by Amy Martin

Author: Amy Martin Website|Twitter
Published: 13 February 2014
Format: Kindle e-book (review copy)
Pages: 288
Buy the book: Amazon
Buy the e-book: Kindle|Kobo|Smashwords

Source: Recieved free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
As researchers close in on a treatment for her boyfriend Kieran’s strange sleeping disorder, Zara “Zip” McKee is hopeful that she and Kieran will soon be able to stop worrying about Kieran’s condition and focus their attention on other matters—such as the looming college decisions that may force them into a long-distance relationship.

But when their friend Cooper Halloran, who shares Kieran’s strange condition, undergoes the treatment and is afflicted with a devastating side effect, Zip and Kieran must decide if the treatment is worth the damage it could inflict on their relationship and their lives.

Join Zip, Kieran, and their families in the third installment of the In Your Dreams series as they wrestle with the question of what to do when the cure for a condition could be worse than the condition itself.

My Review:
I adored the first two books in this series and I was excited to be reuinted with Zip and Kieran in Before You Sleep. The book sees the two explore the possibility of a solution to Kieran's sleep problems, whilst also dealing with the ups and downs of teenage life and finishing school.

What I loved about this book was that it focuses a lot on choices and making decisions. As the series has progressed, it's great to see the characters grow and develop and face new challenges. Zip and Kieran's relationship has evolved so well. The two of them are only young and they're facing choices that could have a huge impact on their future. I liked how it wasn't always easy and we see them both go through the pros and cons of the choices they have to make. I love their relationship so much, and they come across as very mature. Despite all the pressures of their lives, they still manage to remain strong and fight for each other and what is right

Despite the fact they are dealing with very much fictional circumastances, huge parts of their relationship are incredibly relatable, and I think what the author has managed to do is create a very realistic relationship that isn't glamourised or used for any kind of dramatic effect. Alongside the issues with Kieran's disorder, they also have a lot of decisions to make when it comes to schooling and the physical side of their relationship, and I love that the two of them can talk openly with each other - unlike so many other YA novels I've read where the girls and guys are constantly trying to figure each other out without actually communicating!

I really loved the relationships between all the characters and especially how the families have become so close. The interactions between everyone always feel so familiar and never forced, and I love the sprinkling of humour that keeps the story light.It was great to find out a bit more about Cooper as well.

I think As You Wake is still my favourite book of the series. This book felt like more of a slow build that really focused on the characters, but I did like that about it. I adored Zip and Kieran. They make my heart skip! And I need to know what happens because the ending left me on edge and tugged at the heartstrings just a bit! I think it's safe to say I'm completely emotionally invested in these characters and I'm very excited to see there'll be a fourth installment in the series. Bring it on!

Rating: 4*
What to read next: The next book in the series is scheduled for this year.
Books like this: Tunnelville by Erin Callahan and Troy H. Gardner

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Review: Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon

Take Back the Skies by Lucy Saxon

Author: Lucy Saxon Website|Twitter
Published: 5 June 2014 (Bloomsbury)
Format: Kindle e-book (ARC)
Pages: 496
Buy the book: Amazon|Hive|Waterstones
Buy the e-book: Kindle|Kobo

Source: Received a free copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks Bloomsbury!

Plot Summary (from Goodreads):
Hugely energetic and entertaining fantasy adventure from an amazing 18-year-old author. The first in major sequence of novels.

Catherine Hunter is the daughter of a senior government official on the island of Anglya. She’s one of the privileged – she has luxurious clothes, plenty to eat, and is protected from the Collections which have ravaged families throughout the land. But Catherine longs to escape the confines of her life, before her dad can marry her off to a government brat and trap her forever.
So Catherine becomes Cat, pretends to be a kid escaping the Collections, and stows away on the skyship Stormdancer. As they leave Anglya behind and brave the storms that fill the skies around the islands of Tellus, Cat’s world becomes more turbulent than she could ever have imagined, and dangerous secrets unravel her old life once and for all . . .

My Review:
I'd seen a few friends talking about this book so I decided to request a review copy because it looked very much like my kind of thing. Take Back the Skies follows Catherine as she escapes her controlling father and finds refuge with the crew of a skyship.

The beginning of the book took a little while to get in to. I was weary of the amount of description which was slowing the pace down a bit. I wanted to be straight into the action! It picked up pretty quickly, though, and soon I was hooked.

The story follows the main character Catherine, who soon becomes known as Cat after running away and disguising herself as a boy. I quickly sympathised with her as she's escaping a rich, powerful father who doesn't seem to care about his daughter's happiness or desires, and her mother is sick and helpless. I really liked that she still had a bit of innocence and naivete about her as well. She's come from this rich background, so when she's thrown into a life of little she has to adjust, but she never comes across as spoilt or horrible. She's instantly likable, but she still goes through a lot and learns from her experiences.

The rest of the characters were utterly charming as well, especially the mysterious Fox. Cat is drawn to him pretty much from the moment she meets him so there's some romantic interest there, but it didn't overpower the story and I loved the way the relationship between them develops slowly as they suss each other out. With Cat disguising herself as a boy, it was great to see her mix amongst some male characters. I also loved Alice, the skyship cook, who provided the motherly figure to Cat as a nice balance to all the boys.

What Take Back the Skies managed to achieve was something pretty special with me. It nailed that sense of adventure perfectly so that soon I swept away with Cat as she travels the skies and meets these wonderful people. I became so wrapped up in the story that it was the perfect bit of escapism I needed. I loved seeing the challenges Cat had to face and the new experiences she goes through, both physically and emotionally. My favourite scenes were definitely those on the skyship.

I think this book will appeal to a wide range of people. For anyone who loves adventure it's a must, and the sci-fi elements of the story are fantastic. There's also a great political side to the story for those who love a bit of uprising against the government. The book is the first in a planned series, and I'm pleased to hear there'll be more. This book has an epilogue which sort of rounds up the story, but there's definitely potential to explore the world more. There were parts that were only touched upon that I was left wanting to know more about.

Overall I was really impressed with Take Back the Skies and will definitely be reading more by this author in the future.

Rating: 4*
What to read next: This is the 1st in a planned series
Books like this: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, Echo Boy by Matt Haig

Friday, 16 May 2014

Book Snacks! Homemade Cereal Bars

So recently I've picked up a love of baking. When I can't sit still long enough to read, I find channeling my energy into baking very therapeutic. I've decided to share a few of my favourite recipes here on the blog, because books and food go pretty darn well together!

Today I'm going to share my recipe for homemade cereal bars. This is by far the thing I make the most often. I was looking for a healthier alternative to the shop bought ones which are filled with all kinds of junk. I take these to work to keep me fuelled up, but they're perfect as a mid-morning snack with a cup of tea and a good book!

I adapted the recipe from this one I discovered online (I'll link back to the original one when I can find it again!). I had to make some tweaks to get the ingredients into grams and have also tweaked the amounts and ingredients to my taste.

150g porridge oats
160g wholemeal flour
150g dried fruit*
3/4 tsp cinnamon
170g honey
50g olive oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Margarine (for greasing)

* I find plump sultanas work best (as opposed to rasisins) as they stay soft, but this part of the recipe can be adapted to whatever you have lying around! I've used chopped up dried apricots which work well too. For a sweet treat you can add glace cherries.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees (fan oven).
Grease a 8inch x 8inch square tin.
Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir thoroughly.
Pour mixture into the tin, spread out and press down with the back of the spoon or a spatula.
Bake for 15 minutes approx.
Leave to cool for five minutes then cut into bars or squares.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

"Recently Read" Round Up! Reviews of Wintergirls, The Elites, Independent Study

I've been a bit behind with reviews lately, despite having finished a few books, so to catch up I've given you three reviews for the price of one! Here are three of the books I've read recently with a mini-review of each one. I hope you enjoy!

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Published: 19th March 2009 (Marion Lloyd)
Pages: 278
Rating: 5*

My thoughts: I was both excited and nervous to read this book. I'd heard amazing things about the author but had never read any of her books. I've also known a few people close to me with eating disorders so reading a book about a girl battling an ED was something I wanted to do but was also hesistant of. Would it be accurate? Would it be emotional? With this book it was both.

Halse Anderson has written an incredibly honest book which I could instantly recognise as something that has been well researched and beautifully executed. The book is written from main character Lia's POV and you get to read some of her deepest and darkest thoughts as she battles against anorexia. I was relieved to find it wasn't sugar coated or sensationalised or made to be anything that it's not, it was just one very honest and open account of a girl's fight to stay alive.

I loved the relationships between the characters and I think a lot of people will relate to Lia's family situation. There were a fantastic range of personalities that stirred up every emotion, from rage, to making your heart melt! It wasn't always an easy read but it's one that comes highly recommended, and I can't wait to read more by this author.

The Elites by Natasha Ngan
Published: 5th September 2013 (Hot Key Books)
Pages: 368
Rating: 4*

My thoughts: I'd been dying to read this book and it had been sitting on my wishlist for a while, so when I spotted it for a bargain price I just had to snatch it up. The Elites follows Silver - an Elite working to protect the council. Set in a futuristic city cut off from the outside, residents are fitted with birthchips that can used to be track activity.

A lot of my love for this book comes from my love of Silver, who is a wonderful main character. The author has managed to make you really root for her. She's a bit of an underdog for a few reasons. She makes a few mistakes which made her instantly relatable - I like it when characters mess up and aren't perfect all the time! She's also victimised for being a  "Red" - someone of Chinese ethnicity. The Elites does a great job at tackling racism and portraying discrimination in Silver's society.

There's a fantastic range of characters, both good and bad (and some you're not sure about!). I really liked Butterly, although he was the one character I wished I knew more about. The book jumps around so you get to see lots of people's points of view which I liked. It gave you a chance to see all sides of what was happening which really ramped up the tension. Each chapter has a title which gave you a hint of what was to come. I liked this little touch most of the time, but there were maybe a few instances where it gave away something that could have been a surprise.

The writing in The Elites was beautiful and atmospheric. It was the perfect novel to escape into. It's one of those books where the descriptions of the food leave you salivating! I'd definitely read more by this author. A must for dystopian fans.

Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau
Published: 1st January 2014 (Templar)
Pages: 383
Rating: 4*

This is the second book in The Testing series so I'd shy away from this mini-review if you haven't read book one!

My thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed The Testing so I was excited to start on the sequel, which sees Malencia Vale face the new challenges of university, as well as the gruelling tests that come with it.

Firstly, it was great to be reunited with Cia. I loved her in book one because she's so incredibly smart, and once again she gets a chance to shine in Independent Study. The book is set after the Testing as she moves on to university with the hope of gaining an internship in her preferred specialty. As with all sequels, I was worried it would feel a bit repetitive. But with Independent Study, it really felt like a progression. The challenges Cia must face are bigger and you see her under pressure. She also has to face more moral dilemmas as well which was interesting to see.

I loved the growing sense of unease and rebellion throughout the book. It's not in your face like it is in some other dystopian novels I've read. It's very subtle and leaves Cia having to figure a lot out for herself. The pacing was spot on as the book gradually builds up the tension. You know something is coming but you don't know what. There were several twists that took me completely by surprise, so the pay off for waiting was well worth it. Those who read the previous book will know there are things Cia needs to rediscover, so that really helped ramp up the tension as she tries to figure out just what has happened to her in the past.

Once again there are a great bunch of characters, with Cia meeting new people at university. Trying to figure out who was trustworthy was just as hard for me as it was for Cia! In fact one of my favourite things about Cia is that she doesn't really care about what other people think, she goes with her own judgment and relies on herself a lot rather than other people. I think Charbonneau has done a great job at making Cia likable and warm, despite the fact she focuses on herself a lot. It's never a bad thing. I enjoyed the continued relationship with Tomas and her interactions with new characters such as Ian.

The writing in this book was just as impressive as the first. I love how smart and clever everything is. I've only marked it down a star compared to the first book due to the fact I loved that one so much, but this comes a very close second. I think the only thing I could mention that brought the rating down was maybe the pacing as it took a little while for the action to get underway. Overall this is a series I've loved being part of.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Book Haul! 14th May

Instead of having regularly weekly posts discussing what books I've bought, I thought I'd just do a little round up as and when I have something to talk about. I've picked up a few books this week so I thought I'd share them!

Firstly, I won an advance proof copy of James Dawson's new thriller Say Her Name from Luna's Little Library (thank you!). I'm a huge fan of James Dawson having loved his previous books Hollow Pike and Cruel Summer. I also met him at Leakycon last year and had the chance to chat with him and get books signed. I was delighted that this copy I won was signed as well as it means I have a full set! I can't wait to read the book.

I also got two awesome bookmarks signed by Erin Lange. I'd been looking at Butter in a bookshop recently so I might have to sneak back and get it!

I also picked up Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy from a charity shop this week. I read Northern Lights when I was quite young and didn't enjoy it, but when I picked up the next two books in my teens I adored them. Unfortunately my copies got thrown out years ago so I've been meaning to replace them! I've been wanting to re-read the first book now I'm a bit older as I think I was just too young to enjoy it first time round, and I haven't read the whole trilogy together before so I'm excited to do that.

Plus how gorgeous are these covers?! I love them! I couldn't resist a matching set.

Have you picked up any books lately? I'd love to hear if you have!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (#26): Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine and gives bloggers the chance to highlight upcoming releases we're excited about.

Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau
Published: 1 June 2014 (Templar)
Buy the book: Amazon|Hive|Waterstones

Why I'm Waiting: I just finished Independent Study so I'm dying to get my hands on the next installment! This has been one of my favourite dystopian series because I adore the incredibly smart writing and brilliant twists. I love Cia as a character and can't wait to see what happens next. Bring it on!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Teaser Tuesdays (6th May): The Elites by Natasha Ngan

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: • Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Something about what he'd just said felt wrong to Silver. She felt her heart twist."

- page 257, The Elites by Natasha Ngan

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Read if you Like the Film Mean Girls

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. This week's top ten is "Top Ten Books If You Like X tv show/movie/comic/play". So I racked my brains and thought of one of my favourite films - Mean Girls! It's just celebrated its ten year anniversary (eep I feel old!) as well so it feels very apt. So here are the books I think you'll like if you love Mean Girls!

Red by Alison Cherry
So I didn't choose this because of the red hair connection! Red is all about social status and fighting to keep it which I think a lot of Mean Girls fans will enjoy.

Shift by Em Bailey
Shift comes with its very own Regina George in the shape of Katie who has a history with main character Olive.

The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate
I always describe this as a guilty pleasure book because the main character is definitely a love to hate character (and certainly a mean girl!).

How to be Popular by Meg Cabot
This book is probably the closest parallel to Mean Girls that I could find, as one girl loses herself in an obsession to be popular.

Teen Idol by Meg Cabot
And just because Meg Cabot nails the American high school thing pretty well, i thought I'd throw in a second book by her!

Paper Aeroplanes by Dawn O'Porter
This book is set in Guernsey so it doesn't have the American feel, but I think British fans of Mean Girls will find a lot more relatable situations in this book due to the secondary school setting. Plenty of friendship dramas and embarassing scenarios to lose yourself in!

Revenge of the Homecoming Queen by Stephanie Hale
A popular girl on a quest to become homecoming queen finds herself at the bottom of the foodchain.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
I picked this because it starts out with a girl at a new school in a strange country which I thought was similar to Cady's situation.

Gemini Rising by Eleanor Wood
 This book features new students who upset the social balance of the school, and deals a lot of with the idea of finding your ideal friends and fitting in.

  Wonder by R. J. Palacio
I included this one because I think it sums up school life, being the new kid and the odd one out perfectly.

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