Daughter of Smoke and Bone: YA Book Review

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Once upon a time a little girl was raised by monsters. But angels burnt the doorways to their world and she was all alone…

This is an exceptional book, the best I have read so far this year, and words don’t really express what I want to share. Hours after finishing the book I was still mesmerised under its spell and for days I literally carried it with me, reluctant to admit I was finished.

I loved this story for several reasons; the gorgeous, rich, seductive writing, the original storyline, the characters so well portrayed that I feel as though I know them personally and the alluring descriptions of beautiful Prague… But the bar was raised with the unpredictable twists and the conclusion which left me desperate for the sequel, not because there’s a ‘cheap’ cliff-hanger (there isn’t), but because I want to be there for the next stage of the adventure and I miss my friends the characters.

Tears, hope and laughter followed me through the pages where I met characters so unique that I will never forget them, dived into enchanting magical worlds, and witnessed wicked hatred, powerful all-consuming love, betrayal and fierce loyalty, all while learning the magic of bone jewellery and at last the hidden truth that blew everything apart and changed the game – forever.

I leave you with this quote: Hope makes its own magic… and hope that you are inspired fall head-over-heels into this book.5 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Daughter of Smoke and BoneTitle: Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone – # 1
Author: Laini Taylor
Publication Date: 5 June 2012 (1st published 1 January 2011)
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Source: Purchased
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Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?     — Extract from Goodreads.com

My Favourite books of 2014

During 2014 I was lucky enough to read just over 130 books!
These are my favourite reads of the year…

2014 Fav Books

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
No Such Thing as Perfect by Sarah Daltry
Defiance by C.J. Redwine
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
But I Love Him by Amanda Grace
Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi
The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech

I would love to know which books you loved this year, please leave a comment above…

toptentuesdayTop Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week we are sharing the top 10  books we read during 2104.

My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak: YA Book Review

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Imagine growing up as an only child with busy, distant parents… only to find your life turned upside down in an instant. What if your new family includes twelve instant male siblings who all resent you being there!

Chaotic, crazy, messy (as real life often is) this is a story that I found myself drawn into.4 Star

Recommended age: 13+

My Life with the Walter BoysTitle:  My Life with the Walter Boys
Series: My Life with the Walter Boys – Book 1
Author: Ali Novak
Publication Date: 1 March 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Source: Purchased
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Sixteen-year-old Jackie Howard is devastated when her parents are killed in a car accident. She has no one to turn to except for her mom’s best friend Katherine Walter. Jackie quickly discovers that Katherine is no stranger to being a mom-she’s got twelve boys! And every single one is a handful…

Adjusting to life with the Walter boys is not going to be easy, especially when two of them start to show an interest that definitely goes beyond brotherly.     — Extract from Goodreads.com

 

The Trouble with Faking by Rachel Morgan: YA Book Review

The-Trouble-with-Faking-Rachel-MorganRachel Morgan’s writing is like milktart, comfort food (in a good way!). Subtle and easy, like coming home. She draws you in to a world of ordinary people, characters you could know, like old friends – or at least wish you did know.

The Trouble with Faking is no exception, reading late into the night because I wanted to stay in Andi’s world, I am left wishing for more. (I hope you’re busy writing Rachel!). I loved Andi with her quirky dress sense and the fierce loyalty she shows to her friends as she finds her way in the messed-up world we call life. Noah’s sense of humour had me chuckling to myself and I loved his appearance in Andi’s video book reviews bring these a new fun dimension.

The additional South Africanisms in this book makes it feel more realistic – international readers don’t worry these are not enough to spoil the book for you but if you are lost you’ll find a guide and translation at the back of the book! I love the added links to the real places visited in the book – I will look up the coffee shops when I am next in Cape Town.4 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Trouble with FakingTitle:  The Trouble with Faking
Series: The Trouble #3
Author: Rachel Morgan
Publication Date: 2 December 2014
Publisher: Rachel Morgan
Source: Free copy from author in exchange for honest review
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After a stupid miscommunication, everyone in Andi’s new res thinks she’s secretly dating Damien, boyfriend of resident queen bee Charlotte. Since the rumour’s already out there and refuses to be squashed, Andi and Damien decide to keep up the facade in the hopes of snagging the attention of the people they really want to be with. Brilliant plan, right? Especially since Damien is the guy Andi’s always wanted. But now there’s Mike, the guy Andi’s pretending to be interested in for the sake of the fake relationship plan, and Noah, Damien’s annoying best friend—who is so not Andi’s type—and suddenly the plan isn’t looking so brilliant anymore.   — Extract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received this copy of this book from the author does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

No Such Thing as Perfect by Sarah Daltry: YA Book Review

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Sarah Daltry has done it again! ‘No Such Thing as Perfect’ is a beautifully written contemporary novel that falls somewhere between YA (young-adult) and NA (new-adult). Fans of Rainbow Rowell’s ‘Fangirl’ will love this book.

College was supposed to be perfect. She was supposed to be perfect.

The seductive words of this exceptional book dance across the page, drawing me in from the very first line: “My name’s Lily and James Naismith ruined high school for me…”

I want to slow down, to make it last but I can’t. Spellbound, I fall deeper and deeper into a story that is far too close to my own. Tears fall unchecked, blurring the page but still I can’t stop.

Raw hurt echoes through the main character who finds a place in my heart as she attempts to discover herself. To fly alone. Worthy of affection. Of love. Reflections of myself break through – those awkward years of trying to fit in, trying to be the person I’m expected to be… never quite getting it right, always a feeling a disappointment…

My life is like a window dressing for a real person. But the fear that is ever present doesn’t fade…

Although I am no longer that awkward young girl, I’m still fighting an internal battle to feel worthy. I’m ignoring the inner voice urging me to lock up my feelings, and leaving a small part of me exposed, wanting to be brave enough to be me and to support an author I respect.

5 Star

Recommended age: 14+

No Such Thing as PerfectTitle:  No Such Thing as Perfect
Author: Sarah Daltry
Publication Date: 11 December 2014
Publisher: October Leaves
Source: Free copy from author in exchange for honest review
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College was supposed to be perfect. She was supposed to be perfect.

For Lily Drummond, life is about following the rules. To be specific, her mother’s rules. College fit into the plan – maintain perfect grades, date the perfect guy, and live the perfect life. On her own, though, Lily realizes that she doesn’t actually have a plan. Without being told what to think and do, she keeps making mistakes.

Away from home, the perfect facade is beginning to shatter. When Lily herself starts to break, it’s the support of an unlikely friend that teaches her how much of a lie perfect really is – and how to be whole on her own terms.       — Extract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received this copy of this book from the author does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

The Art of Lainey: YA Book Review

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I expected far more from this book, probably due to the hype that preceded it, but in reality it was just another YA contemporary story.

While the strategic plan girls borrow from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is a clever, if manipulative, way to win a boy over, it was the main character Lainey who ultimately let the book down. I really didn’t like her! In contrast her best friend was adorable and Micah is just the edgy, messed-up character that I love.3 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Art of LaineyTitle: The Art of Lainey
 Series: The Art of Lainey #1
Author: Paula Stokes
Publication Date: 20 May 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Purchased
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Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, no warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they’re sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates”, it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What’s a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you’re meant to be with if you’re still figuring out the person you’re meant to be?     — Extract from Goodreads.com

YA Book Review: Ask Again Later

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A fun, fluffy feel-good story that is perfect if you feel like escaping without much thought.

Heart – seriously that’s her name – has two three two dates to prom and has to learn what she really wants the hard way.

This book also contains the worst ‘book brother’ I have ever come across.  Seriously horrible!3 Star

Recommended age: 13+

Ask Again LaterTitle:  Ask Again Later
Author: Liz Czukas
Publication Date: 11 March 2014
Publisher:  Harper Teen
Source: Purchased
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Despite what her name might suggest, Heart has zero interest in complicated romance. So when her brilliant plan to go to prom with a group of friends is disrupted by two surprise invites, Heart knows there’s only one drama-free solution: flip a coin.

Heads: The jock. He might spend all night staring at his ex or throw up in the limo, but how bad can her brother’s best friend really be?

Tails: The theater geek…with a secret. What could be better than a guy who shares all Heart’s interests–even if he wants to share all his feelings?

Heart’s simple coin flip has somehow given her the chance to live out both dates. But where her prom night ends up might be the most surprising thing of all…    — Extract from Goodreads.com

Retaliation: YA Book Review

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This is a powerful, brutal, raw but ultimately inspirational account of life on gang ruled streets.  Although set in Washington D.C. the story will resonate with any inner city streets of all major cities across the world and as such has the potential of reaching many teens who desperately need to hear the message of hope.

It is evident from the passionate writing and realistic portrayal that Ms. Shiraz has personal experience to bring to the story and this is what brings the story to life, giving it an extra edge over other books in this genre.  The twisting vigilante actions, of determined family members spiral out of control as the police try to uncover the truth, make an engaging story-line which will appeal to all, including the most reluctant of readers.

I have a couple of concerns about the book which niggled in the back of my mind as I was reading:

Ms. Shiraz, who brings herself into the story as a source of help, gives advice which amounts to leaving the neighbourhood. While this was possible in this particular story it is unlikely to be more than an unattainable dream in many situations.

Hope is a powerful emotion which has enabled many to reach their dream, but compared to America, which has a fully functional, professional police and emergency response departments, hope often flounders in less developed counties where the majority of crimes go unnoticed.4 Star

Recommended age: 14+

RetaliationTitle: Retaliation
Series: Retaliation: Book 1
Author: Yasmin Shiraz
Publication Date: 15 February 2007
Publisher: Rolling Hills Press
Source: Free copy from author in exchange for honest review
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Violence runs rampant on the streets of Washington, DC, and on one seemingly quiet day, the Odom family finds its world destroyed when seventeen-year-old Tashera is brutally attacked by a group of high school girls.   — Extract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received this copy of this book from the author does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Me Since You: YA Book Review

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An emotionally charged, deep, sensitive book which takes an inside look at grief and human nature from an unexpected angle.

Love, friendship (Rowan has the worst best friend ever!) and family dynamics are explored along with the ugliness of human nature, exposed through social media, and the realism of depression.

I found myself sobbing so much I could hardly read through the tears 4 Star– but could not put the book down. Highly recommended.

Recommended age: 13+

Me Since YouTitle: 
Me Since You
Author: Laura Wiess
Publication Date: 18 February 2104
Publisher: MTV Books|
Source: Purchased
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Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old–a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.

If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother–and herself–from the endless replay of heartache and grief.

Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?      — Extract from Goodreads.com

Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams: YA Book Review

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Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams is a dystopian novel set in a boarding school where teens are trained to fight. Weekly tournaments are held in the ‘Cube’ a futuristic, ever-changing, indoor battlefield where they wear specially designed battle uniforms and use ‘fireballs’ as weapons.

Based on the above and the enticing cover, I should have loved this book. I didn’t. The story has lots of potential and it may have had the chance to develop into a brilliant novel if it had been in the hands of a good editor.

The story-line has so many gaps that I searched on-line for the preceding book, convinced this must be the second book of a trilogy. I found it difficult to make sense of the confusion in the first few chapters, but the story got quite exciting after this and I really liked the action scenes in the ‘Cube’.  Unfortunately the ending felt very rushed and I came away disappointed.3 Star

Recommended age: 13+

AtaxiaTitle:  Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams
Author: Rachel Barnard
Publication Date: 25 March 2014
Publisher: Createspace
Source: Free copy from author in exchange for honest review
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As the U.S. government prepares to take over the world, MC infiltrates one of their elite academies that trains future leaders. MC must rise to the top in the Cube training grounds in order to be placed high up within the government so she can stop them in their takeover. It is not until her fourth and final year at the academy that her top-student status is threatened by the sudden arrival of Li, the new transfer student. MC is completely focused on her self-created mission until she gets sidetracked by Li, who might be bad news in more ways than which she bargained. — Extract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received this copy of this book from the author does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Banished by Liz de Jager: YA Book Review

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Banished is a fast-paced fantasy which combined with a feisty heroine, enchanting Faerie prince and a believable Faerie world makes it a book not to be missed.

The sprinklings of betrayal and treachery just lift it to further heights like the hundreds and thousands on a cupcake!

Oh and did I mention that Liz de Jager is a fellow South African? An4 Stard no this did not influence my review!

Recommended age: 12+

Banished by Liz de JagerTitle:  Banished
Series: The Blackhart Legacy  – Book 1
Author: Liz de Jager
Publication Date: 27 February 2014
Publisher: Tor
Source: Purchased
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Sworn to protect, honour and slay. Because chaos won’t banish itself…

Kit is proud to be a Blackhart, now she’s encountered her unorthodox cousins and their strange lives. And her home-schooling now includes spells, fighting enemy fae and using ancient weapons.

But it’s not until she rescues a rather handsome fae prince, fighting for his life on the edge of Blackhart Manor, that her training really kicks in. With her family away on various missions, Kit must protect Prince Thorn, rely on new friends and use her own unfamiliar magic to stay ahead of Thorn’s enemies.

As things go from bad to apocalyptic, fae battle fae in a war that threatens to spill into the human world. Then Kit pits herself against the Elder Gods themselves – it’s that or lose everyone she’s learnt to love.              — Extract from Goodreads.com

Odd ramblings of an obsessed reader

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