No One Else Can Have You

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No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

Published by Harper Collins

2.5 out of 5 stars

Format: Egalley (out 7th Jan 2014 in a variety of formats)

Set in small town, Friendship in Wisconsin, No one else can have you is a murder mystery/pretty little liars/Veronica Mars. Kippy’s best friend Ruth is horrifically murdered, and Kippy takes it upon herself to solve the crime. Armed with just Ruth’s diary and a hunch she goes off on a clue hunting trip which leads her to some unexpected doors.

I don’t get the love for this book. The plot (i.e. the murder and then subsequent Kippy  organised man-hunt)  was pretty good, the writing and execution was appalling. Firstly – the whole super polite Wisconsin vibe, the need to say everyones names in full every single blooming second. It maybe how they speak there (I’ve never been) but to a non-local reading it, it sounded fake, annoying and extremely patronising. Secondly – WTF kind of name is Kippy? KIPPY? sounds like an irritating little dog, which is pretty accurate as she was unlikeable, irritating and needed a good slap.

The whole concept of corrupt cops, sugar daddies, ptsd boyfriends, phycologist dads that can’t see squat about their own daughters is all a bit too silly. Then you have Ruth’s dairy revelations that she didn’t like Kippy and they last for a whole page before Kippy goes back to being Ruth obsessed. THEN you have the fact that the press are all over the murder, yet its left to small town cops to handle, whereas in all likelihood state police at the very least would come in.

I may sound like I’m a little harsh, but the writing was jilted, unbelievable and really cringe worthy. Which is a shame as the murder was damn grisly and the plot good fun, it takes a while for the reader to work out whodunnit, although its pretty obvious to the reader long before kippy gets it. The last few scenes are great, and a real saviour for the book, but still doesn’t push it past 2.5 stars.

EVERYTHING about this book annoyed me, primarily the writing style, but also the sidewinds the book took for no apparent reason, the suggestion  that because its a small town its corrupt, to the amount of deaths there had been around Kippy – no-one is that unlucky surely?

So thats it, I can’t find anything else to say, except I am gutted that I wasted my time reading it when there are so many other, good reads out there.

ARC/egalley kindly provided by the publisher via edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Panic (Sneak Peek Review)

Panic by Lauren Oliver

published by Hodder & Stoughton

4.5 out of 5 stars

Format: Egalley – released April 2014

So Panic is Lauren Oliver (she of Delirium Fame) at her best, a long awaited YA stand alone novel. Well you are all going to have to wait a little longer, but I’ve read it, its great and I’m going to give you a few tit bits to keep you going through the long, cold, boring winter until April……

Panic is a game. Every senior in Carp contributes to the prize fund (whether they are going to take part or not) and one lucky (or not so, depending on how you look at it) individual wins the pot.

There are numerous panic inducing challenges to whittle down the number until there are just two left, then they face the ultimate test of will, the Joust.

There are various nice and not so nice characters to get to know, but don’t expect this to be a sickly love story – its much less vom-enducing and far more plot centric.

Secrets, lies and tigers (yes tigers), Lauren Oliver has done it again.

 

ARC/Egalley provided by Edelweiss via the publisher in exchange for a fair review.

After Eden

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After Eden by Helen Douglas

Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

3 out of 5 stars

Format: EGalley (available from 7th November 2013)

The After Eden cover called to me and I answered.

The book opens with a boy named Connor being rejected at a dance by his female friend. We then go back in time to several months before the rejection and meet Eden, Connor’s best friend (and presumably the girl who rejects him). Connor and Eden are in Year 11 and about to take their GCSES (yes its set in England, yey!) when new guy Ryan shows up. Eden and Ryan are drawn together, much to Connor’s annoyance and Eden starts to notice strange things about Ryan, he doesn’t know who Hitler is or what Pizza is…..the truth soon outs and Eden is caught up between her best friend, the guy she likes and the fate of the world.

After Eden has everything, and its almost impossible for me to tell you about any of it without spoiling everything! There’s some degree of instalove between Eden and Ryan but for once the author holds back from the gushing teen love and leaves it at attraction for the most part. The majority of the book leads up to that night we first meet Connor, but not in the way you think, the story revolves around fate and how if we are destined to do something we will, regardless of how many things change, or will we?

Like I said, without spilling the beans its difficult to critique the book, Eden’s reaction to Ryan’s revelations is unbelievable, and not realistic at all (but then this is a science fiction story). But on the whole, the characters are pretty well written, engaging and there’s nobody you don’t really like.

The twists were fairly obvious to the reader, but that added to the enjoyment for me, seeing Eden being so blind to things and wanting to slap her. The action scene(s) were brilliantly set up and you really felt for Eden as she tries to escape. But the scene that stole the book is also one I can’t talk about, but the simplify of Eden’s actions and the others reactions was brilliant, no need for big budget non-believable scenes here, teenage girl-isms were enough.

Overall a good, fun read and a series I’d be interested in following some more. Douglas’ debut is a fast paced, enthralling read that leaves me wanting to read more of her work. The book can stand alone but leaves it open enough for sequels to come in (and I hope they do). Not the best book in the genre, but extra points for a british setting and normal, every day characters. Twisting fate and the impact one moment can have on the future, into the story was fun and opened up a lot of doors for paradoxes and time twists……

ARC/Egalley kindly provided by Net galley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Resist

51mItaXXffLResist (Breath 2) by Sarah Crossan

Published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books

4 out of 5 Stars

Format: Egalley – Available in a variety of formats from 10th October 2013

***this is book 2 in the breathe series, there WILL be spoilers for book 1 (breathe) – do not read the review if you’ve not read book 1***

Breathe was a book that people loved or hated, I loved it. A chance purchase at the airport, I’d finished by the time I’d landed. Then I had to wait a year for the sequel. FINALLY it was available and I was ready to loose a day of my life to it.

Resist picks up with Bea, Quinn and Alina and adds the voice of Ronan. It follows the same format as breath – each chapter being written from a different view point. The cast were separated at the end of book 1, but all are heading for the somewhat mythical colony  of resistance. The story follows their journey and the surprising results for those that arrive.   Of course things do not go as expected, and in true Crossan style the reader doesn’t get a moment to stop and think about whats happening, its a fast read.

I can understand the reason for the less than enthusiastic reviews, if you didn’t like Breathe, you are not going to like Resist. I DID like Breathe and loved Resist. The same formula that worked so well in book 1 is present here. The addition of Ronan is a good thing, he’s an interesting character who has an internal battle with what he believes is  the right thing and what is the easy thing. Bea is as usual a little star, and Quinn is a bit deeper than in the last book, and has to face some personal demons by the end of the book.

Like I said the pace doesn’t let up, there are some places where you wish it would so you could process what has happened, especially towards the end where there is a jaw dropping ‘oh no she didn’t’ moment – it was a page I had to read a couple of times to see if that had REALLY happened, and yes it did!

The only real negatives are firstly that its the last book – I thought it was a trilogy and feel cheated and secondly the action packed plot doesn’t allow for the reader to have those quiet moments with the characters that bond you to them, which is where I think people struggle with the book. Its not that the characters are underdeveloped, but that you have to work fast to know who to root for and who to boo and hiss at.

Overall another great read from Crossan, an author who is definitely on my watch list.

***ARC/Egalley kindly provided by the publisher via net-galley in exchange for a fair and honest review ***

Fault Line

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Fault Line by Christa Desir

Published by Simon Pulse

3 out of 5 stars

Format: Egally (available in a variety of formats from 15 Oct 2013)

Fault Line was a book I read a little while ago, but until now I’ve not been able to review it. I gave it three stars, but I’m not sure that it was worth 3, perhaps 2 but for trying to tackle a pretty horrid subject, I’ll give it 3.

I didn’t really read the synopsis, the cover suggested dystopian type (I’m thinking earthquake), its not. Its a contemporary.

Fault line is written from the POV of Ben, a boy that is in love with the somewhat complicated Ani, the opening is a little jaw dropping, then we rewind to a time before that Ani, back when Ani was just a feisty girl. We read the story of how Ben and Ani got together, how things changed at one party and then we deal with the aftermath.

There is nothing nice or likable about the story, this is a story of rape, blame and an inability to make things right. Pushing the rape aside for the moment, character-wise the story is weak. Ani is an awful character to start with, snide, catty and blunt, its like Desir has tried to write a feisty heroine but instead ended up with a cocky little madam, after the party Ani is even less likable, I understand that this is a book about the aftermath of rape and that its not pretty, but I didn’t even feel sorry for her, I just couldn’t find it in me to care at all. Ben’s not much better, he doesn’t read like a boy (presumably because the author is female), i always find it strange when a female (or male) author tries to write as the opposite sex, it almost never works. Ben came off wet and whiney and in all honesty if i’d been Ani I’d of dumped him in chapter 2. All of the boys were a bit like that in the book, unbelievable and sappy.

Then to the rape, hats off to Desir for highlighting an issue that is so frequently shoved under the carpet, the way Ani reacts is probably the saving grace for the book, its human and nasty and probably not what most would expect a rape victim to do. But then its all ruined by the counsellor commenting on everything being ‘normal for a rape victim’ its almost like Desir felt the need to put that in every other page to make the reader know that she’s done her research.

I know it seems like I’ve slated the book a lot, and I have, if it had been written by an author who was a seasoned ‘YA grit’ type writer (Sam Cameron etc) then it’d be a 1 star, but Desir is a new writer and there is obvious talent there, and to tackle a taboo subject in book 1 is an almighty feat. Further character development and oomph is needed, Ani needs to be less mean girls and more every day girl, but in general it was a book that kept me turning the page, it wasn’t an inspiration but it was a thought provoking read.

**ARC/Egally kindly provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review.

All Our Yesterdays

All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays 1) by Cristin Terrill

Published by Bloomsbury Children’s

4.5 out of 5 stars

Format: Paperback (Available in a variety of formats, out now)

So we’ve had dystopians with tyrants, and death-games, we’ve had zombies, vampires, werewolves, fairies etc etc, now the time-traveling era begins. First there was After Eden (although technically thats second as its not been released yet) and now All Our Yesterdays (I’m sure there are plenty more, time travel is not a new plot basis, but to the YA market where things go in fads, this appears to be the latest).

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All Our Yesterdays follows two time lines, Marina is in the present, in love with her best friend, who is oblivious to everything except his science projects. Em and Finn are in the future, when Em discovers a note in her

All Our Yesterday has a opener that is probably one of the best I’ve read in a long time, simple, yet intriguing. It makes you want more. Em is obsessed with a drain in her cell. When she finally discovers whats in the drain she realizes she has to kill him. She’s tried everything else, but nothings worked, so the last option is to kill him. But to do so She must go with Finn, back to a past where the bad shits, not happened yet and make her move. This time travel takes her Marina’s timeline and as their paths intersect things take an unexpected turn and the book goes in directions you don’t expect. Can Em kill him in order to save everything?

I’m being purposely vague with ‘him’, through out the book you suspect who he is, but it takes a while for it to be confirmed or denied. This is the magic of the book, you can see the twists, but are still surprised when they happen, HOW they happen. The timelines take a little bit of time to sort out for the reader, but your soon immersed in the story and the semantics don’t matter. Terrill has also done a good job at explaining the time travel, some authors go into science in a big way, others gloss over it and pretend they don’t need to explain, Terrill’s struck the right balance, the reader doesn’t feel the need to question the plausibility of the story, it just works. Terrill has written a book that is mean, harsh and truthful, life is shit (time traveller or not), relationships change, and what you believe to be the absolute truth at 16 is not always the way things will pan out, be that your first love, your ‘bff’ or your worst enemy. Also bonus points for credible relationships, instalove has taken a backseat to long term devotion and the development of surprising feelings.

All Our yesterdays is one fast paced book, its an action film on paper, good fun, entertaining and everything you want from this genre. I was a bit annoyed to find it has followed the trend and turned into a trilogy – whats wrong with a good stand alone book? – but it works as an ending and whilst I am looking forward to book 2, I’m hoping the pace will continue in the sequel, as the story and characters won’t work with a slower, gentler book. Terrill is definitely an author to watch.

The Scourge (Brilliant Darkness 1)

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The Scourge (Brilliant Darkness 1) by A.G. Henley

Published by A.G. Henley 

4 out of 5 stars

Format: egalley (out now on kindle/ebook)

I’ve been busy, so apologies to the author and publisher for the delay in this review. I’ve started my masters, I’ve been working hard doing extra hours at work and in general have no spare time, AND every book I read left me feeling ‘meh’, hence the lack of reviews on my site recently, they are all waiting to be written but I just can’t think of anything, good or bad to say about them. Then came indie, self published, book ‘ The Scourge’, and I found myself WANTING to sit down and read it, and to find out whats happening next, in fact I read it over the course of a lazy sunday, forgoing the X factor to finish the adventure (Don’t worry, I recorded it!).

The Scourge is set in a dystopian future (The US I presume, it doesn’t really say, but mentions pumas). The population has split into Groundlings and Lofties (those that live on the ground and the trees), their survival is interlinked but neither likes, nor trusts each other. Fennel (yes, like the plant, odd names abundant here) is sightless (blind) and is due to become the villages water bearer, taking over from her foster mother, Aloe. The sightless are chosen for this task as they are the only one immune to the ‘scourge’  (aka. Zombies), the lofties provide a keeper for the water bearer, to ensure safe travel and together they are key to the survival of the village. But when tensions between the two groups become unbearable, and the village are on the verge of a war, Fennel is sent in search of a mystical water source, alone. What Fennel discovers changes everything, but what can one, blind, girl do to stop a war?

If you think this is a zombie novel ala ‘Ashes’ your wrong, its a novel about judgement, prejudice, dishonesty, trust, friendship and love, and yes, zombies. Except not. I can’t really explain the zombies without giving away the whole point of the story, so just listen when I say its not about zombies, they are a side-issue to the plot.

I loved the book, obviously. There were obvious twists, and some I just didn’t see coming, action galore but some perfect quite moments. The realistic heartfelt relationships between Fennel and her family, friends and keeper were the heart of the novel, the setting could change and it would be a brilliant novel still.

Fennel is a bit wet to start with, but I warmed up to her during the novel, she seemed to develop naturally, no sudden burst of greatness here – just your usual teenage girl growing up as she discovers the world is not what she thought. Don’t expect Katniss or Tris here, Fen is her own girl and rightly so! Her blindness doesn’t make her a superhero, but nor does it make her a victim, she has learnt to accept it, in the way only someone thats  been blind for life can, and during the book she has to learn when to ask for help, and when she can do it herself.  The supporting cast were well written, but barring Peregrin (see told you, fun names), the depth of some of the characters is lacking, so much more could be done with Aloe, Adder and Shrike – I didn’t feel love, hate or anything for them. Equally the village tensions are quite sudden for the reader, a bit of back ground of why they are set up like that would be good at the beginning (we find out more as we go along), the book wasn’t very long so there was plenty of space for more background and depth to the world and the cast. We don’t need an explanation as to how the world fell, but a history of the village and inter-relations would be better – were they always at war? did distrust grow in time?

Over all a great, fun book and I can’t wait to read book 2 (its on the kindle waiting), a true indie gem and I feel privileged to have read it before the hype started, because hype will start and it WILL become a best seller, I’m sure of it.

**ARC/egalley provided by author and publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.