Brief blogs for busy bees

Tag: netgalley

International Women’s Day 2018: Amazing Women and Little Leaders

International Women’s Day 2018: Amazing Women and Little Leaders

Happy International Women’s Day! To celebrate the achievements of women throughout history and across the globe, I decided to combine these two reviews into one fun and informative post, shining a light on inspirational women who are vastly underappreciated. Amazing Women: 101 Lives to Inspire […]

Review: Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton

Review: Sunflowers in February by Phyllida Shrimpton

‘I wouldn’t say I’ve “lost” my life exactly, and I haven’t exactly “lost” my body but I have, for sure, somehow lost the connection between the two.’  When Lily Richardson spends her bus fare on a pair of earrings, she has no choice but to […]

Review: Everless by Sara Holland

Review: Everless by Sara Holland

‘Most people find the forest frightening, believing the old tales of fairies who will freeze the time in your blood, or witches who can spill your years out over the snow with only a whisper. Even the spirit of the Alchemist is said to wander these woods, trapping whole eternities in a breath.

I know better than to be afraid of stories.’

At first, Everless is hard to get into. We’re thrown into a world where blood is converted to money and the more you’re bled, the less time you have left. The stories say that this is because of the Alchemist and the Sorceress, who ‘bound time to blood and metal’.

We meet Jules on her seventeenth birthday. As she’s just turned seventeen, she’s legally allowed to bleed her years, and she plans to spend her birthday doing just that to ease up some of her and her father’s money troubles. Her father forbids her, but Jules knows that if the collector bleeds him then he’ll be a step closer to a death which seems unavoidable.

Luckily, there’s a royal wedding on the horizon, so Everless – the home of the Gerling family, whose youngest son will soon be marrying the Queen of Sempera’s heir – is hiring new staff members. Jules barters with the collector, promising to pay their debt when she starts working for the Gerlings. The collector agrees, but Jules’ father attempts to stop her, warning her from going back to Everless. Jules grew up in the castle, but the pair were forced to flee after witnessing one of the Gerling heirs attempting to throw the other into the forge. Jules saved Roan from his brother’s clutches, but returning to Everless means risking Liam’s wrath if he discovers her identity.

Obviously, Jules sneaks out and is chosen to work at the palace – the book probably wouldn’t be called Everless if she wasn’t!

But when she arrives at the palace, she discovers that all is not what it seems. Jules’ father turns up at the palace and warns her to stay out of the Queen’s sight, refusing to elaborate when Jules demands to know what’s going on. When the Queen’s party arrives, their carriage is covered in arrow holes and their servants are blood-stained and muddy. It looks like the wedding isn’t going to go smoothly after all…

There’s a lot of establishing, but the pace picks up dramatically after the Queen arrives at the palace. More details about Sempera, the Alchemist and the Sorceress are revealed throughout, and as the history of this magical realm is revealed the place takes on a life of its own. One of the most interesting places is a town which is stuck half a day behind the rest of the world! If you’re a Doctor Who fan, you’ll love the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey aspects of Everless. (In fact, the Alchemist seems to be quite similar to the Doctor, but I won’t tell you how!).

Everless seems predictable, but there are lots of unexpected twists. I thought I’d figured out exactly what was going to happen within the first quarter, but it all gets flipped on its head a couple of times throughout the book. You’ll change your mind on what you think is going to happen, and then you’ll have to change it again a couple of pages later! Sara Holland certainly keeps you on your toes, although there’s a bit too much going on in the last few chapters. Take your time towards the end and you should be okay (or read it twice like I did, just to get everything straight in your head!).

The epilogue tacked on the end is unnecessary, and the events that unfold in it could easily have been saved for the second book in the duology. However, because the main story ends on a dramatic cliffhanger, it’s going to be impossible to resist continuing on with the series. If you aren’t ready for a yearlong wait, put Everless to the bottom of your TBR and read it closer to the second book’s release date. The likelihood is that I’m going to reread it at the end of the year, because I’m going to want the events fresh in my head.

Everless is an extremely strong debut novel which will appeal to people who regularly read YA fantasy and to those who often find themselves avoiding the genre. Holland writes strong, believable characters, and you’ll find yourself wanting to be best friends with Jules by the time you turn the last page.

If you’re interested in learning more about Everless, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon Affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!  

Have you read Everless yet? If so, did you enjoy it as much as I did?

Alyce

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Review: The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart

Review: The Sacrifice Box by Martin Stewart

There are a few words I could use to summarise The Sacrifice Box.  Gratuitous. Excessive. Unnecessary. I’m struggling to comprehend how a book like this managed to get published, let alone published as a young adult novel. Honestly, it’s my own fault. I should have known […]

Review: A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

Review: A Map of the Dark by Karen Ellis

I was so close to giving A Map of the Dark one star, because it was the most predictable crime novel I’ve ever read. I expected a lot more. Karen Ellis is the pseudonym of established crime/thriller author Katia Lief, and I’ve heard a lot of good […]

Review: Bad Girls With Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten

Review: Bad Girls With Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten

‘A good girl would have played it different. Good Girls do not scheme or plot. Good Girls do not twist or sneak.

But Bad Girls know it’s never that simple. Bad Girls know everything is gray. Everything is messy and complicated. And sometimes you have to do some fucked-up stuff to make things okay.’

I wasn’t reading anything when I sat down on the bus to London yesterday, so on a whim I decided to start Bad Girls With Perfect Faces. I was not expecting to finish it on the bus home, but this story is far too gripping to take your time with.

Sasha is in love with her best friend, Xavier, but he doesn’t know it yet. She decides to tell him, but right when she’s about to open her mouth his ex-girlfriend Ivy comes sauntering back into his life. Despite the fact that Ivy cheated on him and broke his heart, Xavier is still head over heels for her, so when she arrives he abandons Sasha and goes off with her. Sasha is heartbroken. In a drunken state she makes a fake Instagram pretending to be a boy called Jake, desperate to follow Ivy and get definitive proof that her and Xavier are back together.

In the cold light of day, Sasha comes up with a plan. If she messages Ivy as Jake and gets proof that she’s intending to cheat on Xavier, she can break them up once and for all. Her and Xavier will finally get together, and she’ll make sure he’s happy. But things spiral rapidly out of control, and Sasha’s summer of revenge changes all of their lives forever.

The only reason I requested this book on NetGalley was because I’d heard great things about Weingarten’s debut novel, Suicide Notes From Beautiful Girls. I enjoy YA thrillers but they don’t often impress me, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel. Told through alternating viewpoints, we follow Sasha in first person and Xavier in third person. The contrast was jarring and difficult to get used to at first, getting much harder towards the middle of the novel when Sasha’s chapters are briefly told in second person. There’s also a third viewpoint with an ambiguous owner: a clever red herring which put me off the scent, making it harder to see a big twist coming.

If you enjoy contemporary YA with a sting in its tail, this is the book for you. The ending isn’t too surprising – things are never going to get neatly resolved in a situation like this – but I still found myself satisfied. I’m hoping this will remain a standalone even though the ending is left open for a sequel, because it’s nice to be kept guessing about these characters after growing to care for them.

If you’re interested in learning more about Bad Girls With Perfect Faces, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you!  

Alyce

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Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

Review: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

“Nice things don’t happen in story books,” Taryn says. “Or when they do happen, something bad happens next. Because otherwise the story would be boring, and no one would read it.” I’ve read a lot of Holly Black’s novels, but The Cruel Prince has instantly become my […]

Review: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Review: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

‘Let me tell you a story.  She was my best friend. She was my everything. And I lost her.’ Before I Let Go follows Corey back to her hometown of Lost Creek in Alaska. She moved away seven months ago when her mother decided to relocate […]

Review: Meet Cute anthology

Review: Meet Cute anthology

I’m a sucker for anthologies. When I saw Meet Cute was available on NetGalley, I requested it at the speed of light, but I definitely didn’t think I’d be accepted!

Featuring fourteen short stories from a variety of YA authors, I knew that some of the stories were going to be hit and miss. I already loved a few of the authors, but this was my first experience with most of them (and definitely won’t be my last!). Keep reading for a brief description of each short story, and what I thought:

  1. Siege Etiquette by Katie Cotugno: 1/5
    The police get called to a house party, and the characters scatter, turning the lights out and hiding in various rooms around the house. The protagonist finds herself in the upstairs bathroom with Wolf, the strange boy who only attends school half of the year because of living on a farm. She’s oh-so pretty and oh-so popular, but Wolf treats her like a regular human being, so they bond during their entrapment.
    I was conflicted by 99 Days, but at least I had the length of the novel to get to know the characters and care more about their personalities. Why does Katie insist on making every story about cheating?
  2. Print Shop by Nina LaCour: 3/5
    A girl starts working maternity cover in her idol’s print shop, saving the day when a cute customer’s print order seems doomed.
    The quaint print shop was a brilliant setting, but I felt a little uncomfortable with her Twitter stalking the customer’s profile and rapidly becoming infatuated with them. Major points for unprofessionalism!
  3. Hourglass by Ibi Zoboi: 4/5
    Prom is rapidly approaching, but the local dress shop doesn’t cater to people of all shapes and sizes. Features best friend betrayal.
    The plot is simple yet so effective, and I loved the fact that the story was left on a bit of a cliffhanger – you’re left guessing how prom actually goes!
  4. Click by Katharine McGee: 4/5
    Forget Tinder, it’s time for the new dating trend: Click. Alexa’s on her first ever Click date, but disaster strikes when she leaves her phone in the taxi.
    Short stories don’t seem like the right place to use multiple perspectives, but I thought the concept and the vaguely futuristic setting were highly appealing.
  5. The Intern by Sara Shepard: 5/5
    A girl starts working as an intern at her father’s record label, and is sent to look after one of the hottest rising stars.
    I gave this five stars because I thought it was ‘cute and uncomplicated’, but I’d actually pretty much forgotten what The Intern was about before writing this review… Whoops!
  6. Somewhere That’s Green by Meredith Russo: 4/5
    When a transgender student is granted access the women’s bathroom, her religious classmate makes a statement against the decision on the local news. While waiting for news on whether the school will reverse their decision, the two start an unlikely friendship, helping each other through their struggles.
    I would have given this story five stars if Nia’s sexuality had been addressed: her classmates assume she’s straight, but if she is bisexual it would have been nice to get some unambiguous rep.
  7. The Way We Love Here by Dhionelle Clayton: 4/5
    In Vio’s world, everyone is born with ten rings marked on their skin. The more rings disappear, the closer you are to finding your soulmate. When a boy washes up on the beach behind Vio’s home – a boy with the same amount of rings left as her – they take a risk and peek into three of their possible futures, with no guarantee which will play out.
    The concept of this one is WONDERFUL, and I seriously hope Dhionelle Clayton decides to extend it and use it as the spring point for a full-length novel.
  8. Oomph by Emery Lord: 5/5
    Two girls start flirting when their flights are delayed.
    Perfectly uncomplicated. It’s so simple that it should be bland, but I just wanted this one to last forever.
  9. The Dictionary of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith: 5/5
    A library customer has borrowed the dictionary, and it’s overdue. It’s Moss’s job to call them regularly, reminding them to return the title.
    This one almost made me cry. I miss working in a library. But phoning every single customer who had a long overdue book would be far too much trouble!
  10. The Unlikely Likelihood of Falling in Love by Jocelyn Davies: 5/5
    She believes in the power of logic, science and mathematics, but when her eyes lock with a boy on a train going in the opposite direction, she decides to use a class assignment to investigate whether love at first sight can be real.
    This one ACTUALLY made me cry. Faultless.
  11. 259 Million Miles by Kass Morgan: 3/5
    A boy with a recent viral embarrassment under his belt wants to go on a trip to Mars to escape his shame. He gets locked in a room with another candidate called Blythe, and she makes him wonder if life on Earth isn’t all that bad.
    I was disappointed by the abrupt ending of this one. It really put the ‘short’ in short story…
  12. Something Real by Julie Murphy: 5/5
    It’s a head-to-head battle to get a date with a superstar. On your left, the owner of the biggest fansite dedicated to him. On your right, the girl who’s sister died listening to his biggest hit, before it received mainstream recognition.
    I’d expected this to be majorly cliched, but it ended up being one of my favourite stories. Gives me yet another reason to get my hands on Dumplin’ or Ramona Blue
  13. Say Everything by Huntley Fitzpatrick: 3/5
    His dad conned her family out of her childhood home, and he decides to take her back there on their first date.
    I’m not sure why I didn’t enjoy this one, but something about the style was odd, and the story was a little too cliched for my liking.
  14. The Department of Dead Love by Nicola Yoon: 4/5
    The Department of Dead Love aim to get to the bottom of your heartbreak. Thomas and Samantha were only going out for five months, but he’s determined to have a second chance with her, and he needs the Department of Dead Love to help him make that happen. The only catch? If his request is granted, his memories of his trips to the Department will be wiped – including his memories of Gabby, the worker he’s quickly become friends with.
    I loved how many twists and turns Nicola Yoon managed to squeeze into this one. It’s only a short story, but I was kept on the edge of my seat!

If you’re a fan of YA contemporaries or short stories, I highly recommend giving this anthology a go. Even if you only dip in and out, you’ll find at least one piece that you’ll absolutely fall in love with: I guarantee it!

If you’re interested in learning more about Meet Cute, check it out on Goodreads. If you decide to buy a copy, please consider using my Amazon affiliate link: I’ll earn a few pennies from your purchase. Thank you! 

Alyce

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