P.S. I Like You

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Kasie West is one of my favourite YA contemporary authors and she doesn’t disappoint. P.S. I Like You is a fun, refreshing read, I almost wish I hadn’t devoured it and still had chapters left to read.

High praise? This is why…

The richly layered fudge cake characters were climb-under-my-skin and sprinkle-crumbs-over-pajamas. The kind of characters who are now your best friends because you know and love them.5 Star

Recommended age:  13+

Title: P.S. I Like You
Author: Kasie West1P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Publication Date: 26 July 2016
Publisher: Point
Source: Review copy

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What if the person you were falling for was a total mystery?

While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has written back to her on the desk! Soon enough Lily and the mystery student are exchanging notes, and lyrics, and even sharing secrets. When Lily finds out that her anonymous pen pal is a guy, she’s flustered — and kind of feels like she’s falling for him. She and her best friend set out to unravel the identity of the letter writer — but when the truth is revealed, the guy is the LAST person Lily could have ever imagined it to be. Now that Lily knows the truth, can she untangle her feelings and gather the courage to listen to her heart?   — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

REFUSE Refuse by Joanne Macgregor, book 2 in the Recoil Trilogy

Refuse takes us further into the Jinxy’s post-apocalyptic reality. If it’s been awhile since you started the trilogy Refuse gives enough recall to re-familiarise yourself with Recoil’s dystopian fiction storyline. But if you haven’t read the first book then you need to start there. Read my 5-star review of Recoil to see why I loved it and links to where to find it.

Refuse maintains Recoil’s fast pace

Although Refuse maintains Recoil’s fast pace and is chock fill of action it fell just short of the first book. This may just be me – I frequently find the middle book in a trilogy a tougher read. I missed the secondary characters in Jinxy’s unit and the banter between the characters so evident in Recoil but I love the hint that Jinxy’s twin brother will be playing a bigger part in the third book.

A new and edgy vibe

The new rebel characters brought with them a new and edgy vibe and Jinxy bravely navigated the new tension and challenges. I love her no-nonsense approach which she maintains despite mounting resistance. But I felt the ending a little rushed with key players just conveniently in the right place to wrap-up the story. *being vague on purpose to prevent spoilers*

4 Star

Recommended age: 13+

 

Title: RefuseREFUSE
Series: Recoil Trilogy #2
Author: Joanne Macgregor
Publication Date: 30 July 2016
Publisher: Joanne Macgregor
Source: Review copy

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In a near-future USA decimated by an incurable plague and tightly controlled by a repressive government, teenagers with special skills are recruited and trained to fight in the war against terror. Now a rebellion is brewing.

All sixteen year-old expert sniper Jinxy James wanted was a little freedom, but now she’s trapped between the government and the rebels, unsure of who the real enemy is. When she uncovers appalling secrets and twisted motivations, Jinxy begins to question her allegiances. Soon she will need to choose between love and freedom, as she struggles to do the right thing in a world gone horribly wrong.   — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

reading around the world

The challenge set by the Broke and the Bookish was to find books set outside the US. I have never had the opportunity to visit the US *sad face* and it wasn’t until I began to look closely that I realised how many books are set in America. It became almost an obsession to find books and my list just exploded. I eventually realised that there was no way I could put all of the books I wanted to on one list. I’ll have to do a series of posts featuring books from different continents- watch this space!

This is a (somewhat shorter) list of books from around the world.  I have chosen books I have read and highly recommend. I hope you can find one (or more) you’d like to read.

reading around the world

 

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled  HosseiniThousand Splendid Suns Afganistan

This beautiful, inspirational but heartbreaking book tells the story of two very different women who find comfort and strength in each other in war-torn Afganistan.

Goodreads
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk
Book Depository   Loot.co.za

 

Jellicoe Road by Melina MarchettaJellico Road Australia

Set in a boarding school in Australia this YA book is one that I will always remember. This book combines two separate stories so that they intertwine and enrich each other as you unravel their secrets.

Goodreads
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk
Book Depository   Loot.co.za

 

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare BlakeAnna Dressed in Blood Canada

Anna Dressed in Blood is a dark, spine-chilling YA ghost story set in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Sinister, menacing and downright creepy, this is the perfect Halloween read.

Goodreads
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk
Book Depository   Loot.co.za

 

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy God of Small Things

Set in Kerala, Southern India this is a beautiful book that weaves wistful words replete with foreboding menace and the loss of innocence. Unforgettable mental images accompany the words making this a story you won’t disremember.

Goodreads
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk
Book Depository   Loot.co.za

 

Coram Boy by Jamila GavinCoram Boy

Eighteenth-century England comes to life in this sinister story that still haunts me five years after I put it down. Shocking, shadowy events and eerie characters traipse through the pages creating a subtle but dark menacing gothic atmosphere.

Goodreads
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk
Book Depository   Loot.co.za

 

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFeversGrave Mercy

This mesmerising book is a mix of historical fiction and fantasy. Set in 15th century France it is brilliantly, mysteriously bursting with treason and betrayal. I loved the storyline which has murder, secrets, assassins and villains seeping out its pores.

Goodreads
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk
Book Depository   Loot.co.za

 

Babylon’s Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo by Lawrence Babylon's Ark IraqAnthony

A non-fiction memoir by Lawrence Anthony, a well-known South African conservationist and author of The Elephant Whisperer, about the courageous rescue of the Baghdad Zoo animals during the Iraq War.

Goodreads
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk
Book Depository   Loot.co.za

 

OrchardsOrchards by Holly Thompson

Written in verse this award-winning YA book about complicated family relationships and a clash of cultures. I flew through this inspiring, uplifting story of a Japanese-American girl is sent to stay with her grandparents home in Japan after her involvement in a bullying-related suicide.

Goodreads
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk
Book Depository   Loot.co.za

 

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys Between Shades of Gray Russia

This YA historical fiction book is a haunting and compelling portrayal of humanity during the Second World War. Sparks of life, small acts of kindness and decency, shine through between brutal cruelty while the prisoners of war face the reality of survival in an unbelievably harsh environment

Goodreads
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk
Book Depository   Loot.co.za

 

The Trouble with Flying by Rachel MorganTrouble with Flying South Africa

Rachel Morgan is a South African author well known for her YA fantasy series. The Trouble with Flying is the first of a series of contemporary fiction. Although the characters make an appearance in their friend’s stories, each book is about different characters so can be read in any order.

Goodreads
Amazon.com   Amazon.co.uk
Book Depository   Loot.co.za

Top Ten Tuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Put it Out There

Put It Out There by D.R. Graham

Put It Out There is a contemporary contradiction. Alternating light-hearted, flirty fun with a deeper and slightly paranormal twist. It beckons to the reader, calling for attention. With it’s complicated, layered characters (including the secondary characters) it gives back more than it asks.

Perfect summer read

The easy, relaxed writing style makes it a perfect summer read. It was over too soon. While I can’t wait for the sequel, this story is definitely unfinished, I think I would have liked all three in one book. That would have pushed it up to a 5 -star read.4 Star

Recommended age: 14+

Title: Put It Out There
Series: Britannia Beach #1Put it Out There
Author: D.R. Graham
Published: 1 July 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Source: Review copy

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reads

Returning home to Britannia Beach a year after her life was shattered is bittersweet for Derian Lafleur. Although some things settle back into place, others don’t click like they used to…especially her friendship with Trevor Maverty.

Derian suddenly wishes the boy next door would see her as more than just a kid sister type. She tries to be everything she thinks he’s looking for— bolder, more experienced – but is that who she wants to be?

With the fate of her family’s historic inn on the line and Trevor making life more complicated by the day, Derian struggles to manage her unexpected feelings, and deal with a past she’s not quite ready to leave behind.   — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Asking for it crop

An unflinching portrayal of human failure

Asking For It is a difficult read. A raw, honest, horrific read. But it begs for an audience, needs to be acknowledged. In the hope that its message is internalised and it’s courage shared.

Emma

Emma is a character you’re going to be conflicted about. She is not simple or easy to like. You are probably going to undergo an ongoing love/hate relationship with her. I did. At first, it’s easy to think she deserves what she gets. But no one deserves that. Ever. Shocked and angry, my emotions were all over the place while the words grated against my skin itching to climb inside. Emma is not alone. She is one of the most realistic characters I have read about. This book doesn’t sugarcoat or glaze over issues. It doesn’t allow that ‘it will never happen to me’ mantra.

Betrayal

No stranger to betrayal Emma finds herself on the receiving end again. Her small conservative town can’t accept the truth. Her unsupportive family just want to forget. Sweep it all under the rug and carry on as if nothing happened. She’s betrayed by those close to her. Sides are taken, battle-lines marked even if it’s to avoid conflict, to go back to status quo.

The writing

At first, I found the multitude of characters difficult to keep track of. This was not helped by the seemingly disjointed writing style. But this story did not need to be easy, it shouldn’t be simple. What happened to Emma will never be acceptable. 4 Star

Recommended age: 15+

 

Title: Asking For ItAsking for it
Author: Louise O’Neill
Publication Date:
3 September 2015
Publisher: Quercus
Source: Review copy

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It’s the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O’Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there’s a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma.

The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can’t remember what happened, she doesn’t know how she got there. She doesn’t know why she’s in pain. But everyone else does.

Photographs taken at the party show, in explicit detail, what happened to Emma that night. But sometimes people don’t want to believe what is right in front of them, especially when the truth concerns the town’s heroes…— Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

Unexpected EverythingThe Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson

There is nothing like sinking into thick Morgan Matson book on holiday. Her seemingly effortless writing is smooth and flowing and she gets right to the heart of her characters. I was sucked into the story and floated away for a few days wanting the book to never end – although 519 pages is a pretty hefty book, it was over too quickly.

And it had puppies, lots of them all over inside as well as on the cover. Talking about the cover – it is so happy and summery and fun. Although how is she going to hold an ice-cream cone and six dogs on leads? Maybe the ice-cream truck was just for show. Ice-cream should never be just for show. Especially not salted caramel ice-cream.

Back to the story… Relationships. That’s what was all about. Relationships with friends, family and romantic others. Especially nerdy book-loving author boyfriend material. But it was the focus on friendship that I really loved. I always wanted a big group of friends to do stuff with so it was nice to be part of one for a while.

Recommended age: 13+4 Star

 

Title: The Unexpected EverythingThe Unexpected Everything on the beach
Author: Morgan Matson
Publication Date: 3 May 2016
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Source: Purchased
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Andie had it all planned out.

When you are a politician’s daughter who’s pretty much raised yourself, you learn everything can be planned or spun, or both. Especially your future.

Important internship? Check.

Amazing friends? Check.

Guys? Check (as long as we’re talking no more than three weeks)

But that was before the scandal. Before having to be in the same house with her dad. Before walking an insane number of dogs. That was before Clark and those few months that might change her whole life.

Because here’s the thing – if everything’s planned out, you can never find the unexpected.   — Abstract from Goodreads.com

 The Lie Tree

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Dark and menacing, The Lie Tree is a complex and eerie mix of historical fiction, murder mystery, thriller and dark fantasy. I found the story deeply compelling, which carried me through the slow parts (the tree only made its appearance halfway through the book). But it was worth the wait. The tree brought with it several dark, unexpected twists.

Dark and menacing

The story is told through the eyes of Faith, who constantly pushes the extremely tight boundaries constricting feminism in Victorian England. Not necessarily the most reliable narrator, but certainly the most adventurous. Faith is both clever and sly. The perfect combination when one needs to manipulate events… which don’t always go as she planned.
4 Star

Recommended age: 12+

Title: The Lie Tree
Author: Frances Hardinge
Publication Date: 7 May 2015The Lie Tree
Publisher: Macmillan
Source: Review copy

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It was not enough. All knowledge – any knowledge – called to Faith, and there was a delicious, poisonous pleasure in stealing it unseen.

Faith has a thirst for science and secrets that the rigid confines of her class cannot suppress. And so it is that she discovers her disgraced father’s journals, filled with the scribbled notes and theories of a man driven close to madness. Tales of a strange tree which, when told a lie, will uncover a truth: the greater the lie, the greater the truth revealed to the liar. Faith’s search for the tree leads her into great danger – for where lies seduce, truths shatter.    — Abstract from Goodreads.com

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

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Megan Miranda is a genius. She has successfully captured the YA market and now the adult. All the Missing Girls is one of the best books I have read this year.

Original & unpredictable

An original, unpredictable story line and a very unusual format – the story is told backwards. Yes backwards. Not the go-back-in-time backwards. We are given one day at a time starting on day 15. Each day proceeds as normal but the next day is the one before.

It’s clever and it works

I thought it was going to be confusing, maybe weird, but it just felt odd for a few chapters. It’s clever and it works. I felt as if I knew what was going on only by suggestion. Until I didn’t. The twists. So intense. This book is… brilliant. I could not put it down. Rating system 5 star

Recommended age: 15+

 

Title: All the Missing Girls All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda
Author: Megan Miranda
Publication Date: 28 June 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Source: ARC

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It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to tie up loose ends and care for her ailing father, Nic is soon plunged into a shocking drama that reawakens Corinne’s case and breaks open old wounds long since stitched.

The decade-old investigation focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne’s boyfriend Jackson. Since then, only Nic has left Cooley Ridge. Daniel and his wife, Laura, are expecting a baby; Jackson works at the town bar; and Tyler is dating Annaleise Carter, Nic’s younger neighbor and the group’s alibi the night Corinne disappeared. Then, within days of Nic’s return, Annaleise goes missing.

Told backwards—Day 15 to Day 1—from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth about her younger neighbor’s disappearance, revealing shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago.     — Abstract from Goodreads.com

The fact that I received a free advanced copy of this book does not influence my policy to write an honest review.

I'll Give You the Sun

I’ll Give You the Sun

. . . I can unzip the air and disappear. . .

This book is… Crazy. Wild. Beautiful. Magnificent. Bizarre. Weird… In the best possible way.

. . .This is wishing with your hands. . .

I read ferociously, diving right in and only surfacing when it was done. Eccentric, unconventional characters which I adored and who fed my soul. One bite at a time.

. . . If bad luck knows who you are, become someone else. . . 

. . . His coconut suntan lotion’s filling my nose, my whole head – the strong smell of the ocean too, like he’s carrying in on his back. . . That would be good, that would be it (Portrait: ‘The Boy Who Walked Off with the Sea’). . . 

A well deserved 5-star award. 5 Star

Recommended age: 13+

 

Title: I’ll Give You the SunI'll Give You the Sun
Author: Jandy Nelson
Publication Date: 2 April 2015
Publisher: Walker Books
Source: Purchased

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Jude and her twin brother, Noah, are incredibly close. At thirteen, isolated Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy next door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and wears red-red lipstick and does the talking for both of them. But three years later, Jude and Noah are barely speaking. Something has happened to wreck the twins in different and dramatic ways … until Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy, as well as someone else—an even more unpredictable new force in her life. The early years are Noah’s story to tell. The later years are Jude’s. What the twins don’t realize is that they each have only half the story, and if they could just find their way back to one another, they’d have a chance to remake their world.  — Abstract from Goodreads.com

Book Covers

The Complexity of Book Covers

Book covers are fundamental to the success of books.

The more appealing the cover the more often the book will be chosen. I’ve always thought designing book covers must be a really fun job, working with colours & font and reading the books to decide what works best. But it must be tricky to design an appealing cover while also pleasing both the author and publisher.

Books with ugly covers need much more work to ‘sell’

This applies to library and bookshop customers – including me. Shallow maybe, but I am sure I have passed over countless books simply because I didn’t like the cover. If you have a TBR (to be read) list as long and daunting as mine you’ll know what I mean. It takes a conscious decision (i.e. more effort) to pick a book with an unappealing cover.

Different publishers use different covers

The interesting thing is that in most cases the books published by different publishers have different covers. Do publishers and their teams know what they are doing?  While the appeal is subjective, what I like is not necessarily what you like, are we all so different? Please vote in the poll below

The And I Darken cover debate

Take the book And I Darken. I love the USA cover and if the UK cover had been on Netgalley I know I would have passed it over and missed a brilliant book. But is the USA cover more feminine and possibly less likely to be picked up by boys? What do you think?

In the interests of humanity (ok maybe not humanity but it is interesting!) please vote for the cover you prefer in the poll below.

With thanks to Miranda’s Book Blog & It Starts at Midnight for inspiration.