Friday, 21 April 2017

See How They Lie by Sue Wallman

Rating: 8/10
Published: 2nd March 2017
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 312
Synopsis from Goodreads:
All’s not well at the Hummingbird Creek wellness resort. No one can see in. No one can get out… 
New from the talented author who brought you Lying About Last Summer: a psycho-chiller to wake up your darkest phobias. If you got to live in a luxury hotel with world-class cuisine, a state-of-the-art sports centre and the latest spa treatments, would you say ‘yes please’? 

Well, that’s kind of what Hummingbird Creek is like. No wonder Mae feels lucky to be there. It’s meant as a rich-kid’s sanatorium, but she isn’t sick. Her dad is the top psychiatrist there. But one day Mae breaks a rule. NOT a good idea. This place is all about rules – and breaking them can hurt you…

I picked up See How They Lie from the library the day before going off on a walking holiday in the Lake District. I had no idea what to expect but having heard good stuff about Lying About Last Summer I was really looking forward to this and it was truly good fun!

It's a difficult book to review because if I say too much I might risk spoiling people which I really don't want to do, so please pardon the somewhat short length of this review - it doesn't reflect how few thoughts I have about it but rather how much I really can't say without ruining the mystery!!

The plot of See How They Lie was super duper creepy, definitely earning itself a seat in the thriller genre! Although it was clear a lot of dodgy stuff was going on the mystery kept me guessing right up until the end and I loved every minute of it! So often the twists in thrillers are easy to guess which kind of defeats the object, so reading something that kept me questioning was fab! So many times I was shocked, looking at what I'd just read and going:

Sue Wallman managed to create a really beautiful setting in Hummingbird Creek, I could really see myself in the book and I really found myself emerged in the setting which added to the suspense and meant I was absolutely flying through the pages.

I'd certainly recommend See How They Lie to anyone looking for something a bit different from the usual young adult contemporary. I haven't read many young adult thriller style books before but I'll certainly be looking out for more of a similar style in the future!

Overall, See How They Lie was just jolly good fun! A really creepy story that I whizzed through in no time at all. I'd definitely suggest that you give it a try, even if you think it's not your thing it may well surprise you.

Have you read See How They Lie? Or know of any similar Young Adult Thrillers? Let me know in the comments below.

Monday, 3 April 2017

TBR - April 2017

And so my second ever April in the book blogging world begins!
And what a good selection of books I have for this month!

Asking for It by Louise O'Neill
This has been on my TBR for a long time and it seems like a really important read. I'm very confident that it's going to wreck me, but I'm also very excited about it.

What We Left Behind by Robin Talley
I've not heard very much about this but it sounds really really promising, I love Robin Talley's writing and there different gender symbols that are all over the cover are making me look like this: 😎.

See How They Lie by Sue Wallman
This is a random grab from the library because I'm going away for a week and need plenty of books! Seems like it'll either be really interesting or very unoriginal? I'm hoping for the former, obviously!

George by Alex Gino
This has been loosely on my TBR for a while, I keep looking at it and thinking I'll love it (trans rep, hello!) and as I just said I needed books for my holiday and there it was in the library so it's time for me to read it!

Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen
Either going to be a "girl who's problems are fixed by a boy" book, in which case I'll roll my eyes very loudly,  or it'll be a really positive book that I'll really love! Only time will tell!

What's on you TBR for April? Any of these? Have a good month of reading whatever you pick up!

Friday, 31 March 2017

Mental health and me

So my blog is turning one tomorrow and I thought it was about time I wrote a post about my mental health, which was one my main reasons for starting this blog. This is a really brave post for me to write and I've never said too much about it before, but reducing stigma is so important and this seemed like the right time. 1-in-4 people in the UK will struggle with their mental health at some point in their lives, so why are we so afraid to talk about it? Being mentally unwell shouldn't be something to be ashamed of.

I've been struggling with my mental health since I was about 16, when I was in sixth form college. There's no significant event which triggered my decline but I'm pretty confident the extensive bullying I was a victim to throughout both primary and high school, finally took their toll.

My first attempt to get help for my difficulties was not a positive one, I visited my GP when I was living at home and I wasn't taken seriously, as is the case with many young people. I was told I didn't fit the criteria for depression because I hadn't experienced a "decrease in libido" despite me being a seventeen year old who had never been sexually active and who'd recently started identifying as a sex repulsed asexual. I was told I could "access online counselling" and sent on my way. Funnily enough, as a seventeen year old opening up and telling a professional that their mind is scaring them, I actually wanted to be helped. I was made to feel like I wasn't "ill enough" - which is never true if you open up and ask for help, you deserve to get it!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

All About Mia by Lisa Williamson

Rating: 10/10
Published: 2nd February 2017
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Pages: 361
Synopsis from Goodreads: From no. 1 Bestselling YA author Lisa Williamson, comes another insightful and unputdownable teen drama - All About Mia. A brilliant look into the mind of a teenager stuck in the middle.

One family, three sisters.
GRACE, the oldest: straight-A student. 
AUDREY, the youngest: future Olympic swimming champion. 
And MIA, the mess in the middle. 
Mia is wild and daring, great with hair and selfies, and the undisputed leader of her friends – not attributes appreciated by her parents or teachers. 
When Grace makes a shock announcement, Mia hopes that her now-not-so-perfect sister will get into the trouble she deserves. 
But instead, it is Mia whose life spirals out of control – boozing, boys and bad behaviour – and she starts to realise that her attempts to make it All About Mia might put at risk the very things she loves the most.

By this point, anyone who has read almost any of my posts on this blog or who follows me on Twitter will know that I LOVED The Art of Being Normal. It was by far my favourite read of last year (and I'll literally yell about it at any given opportunity) so when I heard about All About Mia I was super duper excited and let me tell you Lisa Williamson did not fail to live up to my expectations!

I think what I loved so much about All About Mia is that it is so honest, there's no shit here, Mia isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. She makes a lot of mistakes, she chooses to do things and you're yelling at the pages like "Noooo don't do that you plonker it's a bad idea!!" but she is so real. Everything she does in this book I experienced (mostly through other people) when I was a sixteen year old. I've watched people make exactly the same choices that she makes and her motivation for doing so is heartbreakingly accurate for so many teens.

The amount of pressure that Mia is under from school and the expectation she feels she must live up to within her family is arguably the reason for the way that she acts. Despite being only sixteen she's forced to consider her options for the future, it reminded me of how difficult I found it at that time to try and make decisions which everyone told you were life-changing, when you had no idea which direction you wanted to go in. All About Mia gives such an accurate representation of what life really is like when you're going through these things and I loved that about it!

Mia also has a friendship group that is very similar to the group that I found myself in at that age (although we drank less!), each one of the characters she's friends with I could relate to someone I know which I really enjoyed.

It seems to me that All About Mia is just an all-round truthful book. It demonstrates a great family dynamic and what seems to me (an only child with no experience) to show the sibling rivalries, but also the real love that they have for each other deep down. There are moments (I'll keep it vague to avoid spoilers!) when you see that, although all told from Mia's point of view, each of the three sisters envies the other for something and they really do rely on each other throughout the book. There are some really great moments between Mia and Audrey where she gives her younger sister advice about certain things and it just made my heart melt, because despite her own problems she's almost always willing to help out her little sister.

Overall, All About Mia is a beautiful book about the difficulties faced by a teen who feels that she isn't living up to anyone's expectations. It demonstrates wonderfully the value of friendships and the ups and downs of sibling relationships. I truly adored this and no doubt I shall be yelling about it for a long while.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Gilded Cage by Vic James

Rating: 7/10
Published: 26/01/17
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 405
Our world belongs to the Equals—aristocrats with magical gifts—and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England's grandest estate lies a power that could break the world. 
A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.
Abi is a servant to England's most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family's secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price? 
A boy dreams of revolution.
Abi's brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution. 
And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.
He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

Gilded Cage is the first book of the Dark Gifts trilogy.

I received a copy of this from my book club, which has in no way affected my review, these opinions are very much my own.

Set in modern day England in a world where Skilled Equals rule and force the common people to give away ten years of their life as slave, Gilded Cage focuses around the Hadley family as they serve their slave days under one of the most influential Equal families. This book is a really interesting twist on young adult fantasy, that in many ways seems very relevant to the modern world as we know it!

I feel as though I've read several books of a very similar style to this - Red Queen and The Hunger Games to name a couple. Gilded Cage has a really beautiful setting and is an original spin on the magical rich vs poor-style universe and I loved that it's set in modern day England rather than a fictional location. I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of that kind of fantasy book as it's definitely not one to be missed! It has a lot of really interesting characters and some twists that will shock you - some of which I was speculating about thinking to myself "nah that won't happenand they turned out to be true (always the best feeling, right?!).

Although I enjoyed this book a lot I struggled with the romance between Abi and Jenner, it seemed quite forced and felt like, in several instances, this bright and wonderful female character was reduced to just being in love with a boy. However I'm aware that as this is part of a series it may well develop a lot more in the following books. Abi's a really wonderful character and I hope that she'll be able to bloom in herself in the future and become the badass lady I know she could be.

The only other thing I wasn't sure about was the synopsis, which I found somewhat misleading. I don't feel that everything that was mentioned on the cover actually happened? Not to the extent to which it's described anyway, but maybe that's just me! That's not to say that you shouldn't pick it up though because I promise it's a good'un, I just feel as though Abi doesn't particularly face a "terrible choice", that I noticed at least.

Overall, Gilded Cage is a really interesting fantasy book with lots going on in a setting that seems very poignant in today's society. The ending left me with a lot of questions, and although it seemed a little bit rushed in some aspects it's definitely made me want to know more, so I'll almost certainly be picking up book two! I'll be interested to see where it all goes from here, Dark Gifts certainly has a lot of potential.

Friday, 10 March 2017

TBR - March 2017

This is my first ever TBR feature but I'd like to make it a regular thing, as we're already ploughing through March at an alarming speed I've only picked three books that I'd really like to get around to this month, but here's what they are and why I'd like to read them! 

All About Mia by Lisa Williamson
Well in case you haven't read my review of The Art of Being Normal I absolutely adored it, my favourite book of last year, if not ever! I just cannot wait to see what else Lisa Williamson can do. I've heard a lot of good things and I'm just all round super duper looking forward to it. I'm going to yell about it a lot I can already tell!

Ariadnis by Josh Martin
I picked this up out of sheer curiosity and I'm really intrigued as to what it's going to be like. It seems like it's going to feature some super strong females (it doesn't even mention a single guy in the synopsis so that's unusual!)
and maybe even some f/f romance, who knows?

Our Own Private Universe by Robin Talley
I'm super excited for this, it seems so rich in diversity and I've not yet read a book with a bisexual character (let alone two!) so I'm really looking forward to it. If it's anything like as good as Lies We Tell Ourselves then it won't disappoint!

What are you planning to read this month? Have you read any of these? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt

Rating: 9/10
Published: 1st February 2017
Publisher: Usborne Publishing Ltd
Pages: 464
Synopsis from Goodreads: Lexi Angelo has grown up helping her dad with his events business. She likes to stay behind the scenes, planning and organizing...until author Aidan Green - messy haired and annoyingly arrogant - arrives unannounced at the first event of the year. Then Lexi's life is thrown into disarray.

In a flurry of late-night conversations, mixed messages and butterflies, Lexi discovers that some things can't be planned. Things like falling in love...

I received a proof copy of this from my book club, which has in no way affected my review, these opinions are very much my own!

My first thoughts going into this were that it sounded like good fun, I was buzzing for a story at a convention but I'll admit that I was somewhat apprehensive that I wouldn't enjoy it because I'm not always the biggest fan of contemporaries that centre around romance (I think it's something to do with my potential aromanticism but that's besides the point!). I honestly loved this book so SO much!!

Set at across a number of conventions run by the company Lexi's dad owns, Unconventional is a ridiculously slow burn that's set over a number of months, in various locations. It's just such an enjoyable read and let me tell you, there's something magical about reading a book that's about books and authors and sci-fi-related nerd things!

Unconventional features some truly beautiful characters, all of whom you read and can immediately picture or think to yourself "yep I definitely know somebody like them!" which is something I always look for in a good contemporary. I fell in love with Aidan absolutely and completely which very rarely happens to me and I was left with such a book hangover it's actually quite embarrassing...

As you may have noticed if you've read any of my previous reviews (or if you've ever seen my tweets) I'm a fiend for a good diverse set of characters which I really think that Unconventional delivered on! Especially with the casual mention (I don't think it's really a spoiler?!) that her mum has a girlfriend now! I just loved that it slipped in an LGBT+ mention like it was nothing, like it was -woah hold up one second- normal??? It shouldn't be something that I should have to keep mentioning when I review books because it shouldn't be something that's unusual but I'm seeing more and more casual mention of LGBT+ characters and I love it! 

Anyway overall Unconventional was a super fun, easy and thoroughly enjoyable read with relatable characters who you will definitely love! Check it out because it's wonderful (and leave me a wee comment if you feel the same or otherwise)!

P.s. thanks to Liverpool One Waterstones YA book club for getting us copies of this beauty!