Sunday, 22 June 2014

Book Review: Say Her Name by James Dawson

Say Her NameTitle: Say Her Name
Author: James Dawson
Series: 
Pages:  240
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Date of Publication: 5th June, 2014
Source: Publisher* for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: Roberta 'Bobbie' Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of 'Bloody Mary': say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear... But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?

Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror... five days... but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before...


My Thoughts:
I'd read both of James' previous fiction books (Hollow Pike and Cruel Summer) so I was super excited to give Say Her Name a read. I'd only heard good things from other bloggers, but also that it was super scary. I don't really get scared by books very much so I was curious to see whether I would be scared by this, since everyone else seemed to be! I think it's more creepy than scary, but everyone was quite correct in their raving about Say Her Name - it's fab!

It's Halloween night and Bobbie, Naya and Caine have been dared to summon Bloody Mary by calling her name five times in front of the mirror in their bathroom. Supposedly, the ghost of Bloody Mary, a girl who killed herself within the school years ago, will appear. They don't believe it though - who would? But soon it becomes clear that perhaps this myth is not so mythological after all... Ooh scary!

Before reading Say Her Name I knew the gist of the Bloody Mary legend, but having never read or seen anything about it or any retellings, this was really interesting. I knew that the legend goes that you say her name into a mirror multiple times and then she haunts you, but that was pretty much it. Because of this I didn't really know what to expect from the story, so reading along was really exciting.

For me the story was more creepy than scary. The thing I find with books is that I can read something and think ooh that was scary, and then I'll look up from my book and I won't be scared anymore, if that makes sense? Since reading is a lot less in your face than watching TV and so if there's something you don't like you can just look up from you book and it's not there anymore. So it didn't really scare me that much, but it was creepy the way that Bobbie lost her glasses and was following some blurry shape down the corridor, or as more of the story went by and things started being revealed and things started making less sense... I got a bit cautious around large mirrors too, but it wasn't really a big deal. Not nightmare inducing for me!

I really liked the cast of characters, as I've come to expect from James' books. Bobbie was great, but I especially liked Naya. She was fun and I think I'd like to be her friend. I also really liked the way that Bobbie's relationship with Caine played out - it wasn't too serious and Bobbie wasn't annoyingly obsessed with him or anything, which was good because I have just about had enough with annoying moany protagonists who don't seem to be able to function when there's a boy in their sights... Sorry, there's a different time and place for that rant! Bobbie and Caine were cute and I ended up really rooting for them, so all in all I was pleased.

Say Her Name is a really great read and I definitely recommend it! The ending was a little bit weird, but I think that it might be my favourite of James' books so far and I cannot wait to read more in the future. If you're looking for a creepy boarding school read (which let's face it, you are, because creepy boarding school books are the best kind of books) then this is definitely one for you. Go read it!



*Huge thanks to Hot Key Books for sending me this in exchange for an honest review! In no way has this affected my opinion of the book. 

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Book Review: Out of Control by Sarah Alderson

Out of ControlTitle: Out of Control
Author: Sarah Alderson
Series:  Standalone
Pages: 320
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Books
Date of Publication: 22nd May, 2014
Source: Publisher* for review
Synopsis from Goodreads: When 17 year old Liva witnesses a brutal murder she’s taken into police custody for her own protection. But when the police station is attacked and bullets start flying it becomes clear that Liva is not just a witness, she’s a target.

Together with a car thief called Jay, Liva manages to escape the massacre but now the two of them are alone in New York, trying to outrun and outwit two killers who will stop at nothing to find them.

When you live on the edge, there’s a long way to fall.


My Thoughts:
Sarah Alderson is fast becoming one of my absolute favourite authors. I've read five of her young adult titles now and have thoroughly enjoyed every single one of those. Out of Control is Sarah's newest offering and it was great. I don't often go for this kind of urban mystery/thriller story, but I gave it a go anyway and it was so good that I flew through the pages as quickly as I could.

The story begins with a very exciting action scene, and races on at a hundred miles an hour from then on, not really breaking until the final page. The book is set over only about two days and so the pace moves very quickly. I really liked that the time scale was so short because it meant that everything had a sense of urgency and anticipation that made it very dramatic and exciting. Every chapter leaves you wanting more and as a result the book was very difficult to put down.

Liva should have been inside the house where a double murder took place. When giving her statement at the police station, the killer comes again and massacres many police men, and it's only with the help of Jay, a criminal, that she manages to get out alive. I really liked the plot and it was so exciting not really knowing anything at all about what's happening and why, and just reading along, finding out things at the same time as the characters. As the book goes along you learn more about both Liva's and Jay's pasts, and it all begins to come together and join up. It was full of twists and new breakthroughs that kept it super exciting and fun to read.

I really liked Liva. She seemed really down to earth and normal, not too vulnerable and wimpish but not unbelievably strong and courageous for her character. She was the perfect mixture of the two, meaning that she seemed like a real teenager, and that was great. Jay was also great - Sarah Alderson is so good at writing believable characters that you can root for. I liked the development of Liva and Jay's relationship - although it did take place over only two days, so much happened between them and to them that there wasn't a whiff of instalove, so no need to worry about that!

Finally, the novel deals with the issue of human trafficking** really well. It's not a major part of the story until the final third, really, and I think that it's a very relevant issue that Sarah drew attention to really effectively, in a way that doesn't feel like a lecture or a preachy campaign to try to get you to donate all your money. Not that it's bad or anything to donate money since it's most definitely a worthy cause, but it's dealt with in a very tasteful way that brings the issue to attention, which is exactly what is needed. I've included some links to information websites at the bottom of this review, which you can use to find out more about human trafficking.

Out of Control was a really great read that I heartily recommend if you're looking for an exciting and fast paced read. It's a definite must read for fans of Sarah's books, and also for fans of Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry books, as it really reminded me of those. I cannot wait for more of Sarah's books in the future!



*Huge thanks to Simon and Schuster Children's Books for sending me this in exchange for an honest review! In no way has this affected my opinion of the novel.

**To read more about human trafficking and how it affects children and people, and to find out how you can help, go here and here. Read Sarah's article on writing about human trafficking on The Big Issue, here

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Book Review: Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

LobstersTitle: Lobsters
Author: Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
Series:  Standalone
Pages:  306
Publisher: Chicken House Books
Date of Publication: 5th June, 2014
Source: Publisher for review*
Synopsis from Goodreads: Sam and Hannah only have the holidays to find 'The One'. Their lobster. But instead of being epic, their summer is looking awkward. They must navigate social misunderstandings, the plotting of well-meaning friends, and their own fears of being virgins for ever to find happiness. But fate is at work to bring them together. And in the end, it all boils down to love.


My Thoughts:
I was super excited for Lobsters and I had such high hopes, so let me tell you, it did not disappoint. It's awkward but light hearted and I have not laughed out loud (in public, too!) so much at a book for such a long time! I was sat in the common room at school, trying to suppress my giggles so that the other people in there would not think I was crazy. I'm not sure I convinced them, but to be honest I don't really care. Maybe it'll encourage them to pick up the book!

Anyway, as I said, Lobsters was great fun. It follows the stories of Hannah and Sam as they finish secondary school and exams and are preparing to go off to university. I really liked that the characters were all a little bit older than the regular sixteen year old YA protagonists (not that I have anything against those, it was just nice to read something a little different), and because I'm only a year younger than them and am also thinking about uni and exams it meant that I could connect with them on a certain level right from the word go (I even started reading just after my German exam, which was cool because Sam starts the book by moaning about how he'd screwed up his French exam and I could totally understand :P ). It's little things like this that made this book so great for me.

Tom and Lucy clearly have a good understanding of what it's like to be a teenager and I think that their characters were really authentic. I could imagine Hannah and Sam fitting in perfectly at my school and they just seemed so real and normal which was great. The dialogue didn't sound forced and the events weren't unbelievable. It made for such easy reading that I could have quite happily sat and read the whole novel in one sitting.

I really liked Hannah and Sam's relationship in the novel. Ribena Girl and Toilet Boy were definitely made for each other! ;) I liked the awkwardness and the uncertainty - not that I really know anything at all about relationships but I can picture myself being very awkward in some of the situations that they found themselves in and so it was a comfort that they felt that too (even if they aren't real...). Sometimes I find in books that if the characters have some amazing whirlwind romance where everything goes right that even though it's fun to read about, it leaves no hope for us normal people... But after reading this it would seem that there is a lobster out there for everyone, no matter any awkwardness or embarrassment! ;) (Lobsters mate for life, so 'the one' is your lobster, according to Hannah and her friends).

Lobsters is a laugh-out-loud funny, frank, and realistic coming of age story. It's the perfect summer read (despite the rainy festival!) and I definitely recommend that you read it if you're a fan of any kind of young adult novel, because it's such a perfect snapshot of teenage life. It's definitely not one to be missed!


To celebrate the release of Lobsters on 5th June, I did an interview with Tom and Lucy, where they wrote about how they would act to five awkward social situations. It's great fun and if you

*Huge thanks to Chicken House Books for sending me this in exchange for an honest review! In no way has this affected my opinion of the novel. 

Sunday, 1 June 2014

May 2014 Wrap Up

Hey everyone! Welcome to June!

Books read this month:

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)  We Were Liars  Out of Control

1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
2. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (reread)
3. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
4. Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
5. Out of Control by Sarah Alderson

Exams started on 12th May so I've not had that much time to read lately, but I've got a break in between exams now for half term so hopefully I'll be able to get lots of books read in between revision! This month I finally read Allegiant and finished Tris' story. I LOVED it and thought the ending was really well done, despite what a lot of other people have said about it. I definitely recommend this series! I had to reread Dorian Gray for my English exam (which went okayish I think) but that's all done now so I NEVER HAVE TO READ IT AGAIN WOOOO because I hate it. I loathe it with a passion, from the bottom of my heart... Don't shoot me! ;) Anyway, strong feelings for Dorian aside, I also read We Were Liars, as part of the #liarsliveread that took place on Twitter on 17th May. It was SUPER FUN and a really great book too! Out of Control was also fabulous and I really enjoyed it. I have a fun guest post from Sarah too, which you should definitely check out (link below)! 

Lobsters

My favourite book of the month though was Lobsters, which I read in one sitting after my longest and most feared exam. It was just sooo good and so awkward and so lovable and gah it was FABULOUS. I also interviewed the authors this month, and you can read that here. (Although Out of Control and We Were Liars also deserve an honourable mention here!)

This month's posts:

REVIEW: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
REVIEW: Allegiant by Veronica Roth
COVER REVEAL AND EXTRACT: Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie by Jeff Norton
INTERVIEW: Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison, authors of Lobsters
GUEST POST: My Favourite Things by Sarah Alderson

New books this month:

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Boys Don't Knit and After Iris was this month's library haul, and I'm very much looking forward to both! I've had the sequel to After Iris for a little while now so I'm looking forward to being able to finally read it. I've also heard really good things about Boys Don't Knit so I'm hoping that will be a fun read. I was super excited when Say Her Name dropped through my letterbox - definitely will be reading that one as soon as I can! Lastly does anyone know if I can read The Maleficent Seven without having read the other Skulduggery Pleasant books? I'd like to read them, of course, but there are so many of them... :P I also got a sneaky preview of Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo but that's not pictured - which reminds me I need to catch up with Siege and Storm! Huge thanks to Hot Key Books, HarperCollins, Simon and Schuster, Indigo and Chicken House for all of my goodies this month!


So I don't know if you've seen, but Jim from YAYeahYeah is hosting a huge blog tour celebrating all of the awesome books coming out on 5th June (my interview with Tom and Lucy was part of it)  - because there are LOADS. You can head over to the website here to view all of them, but the ones I'm most looking forward to are:

Say Her Name  Picture Perfect (Geek Girl, #3)  Murder Most Unladylike (Wells and Wong, #1)
Lies Like Love  Smart  Embedded image permalink

What did you read in May?
Have you read any of these books yet?
What are you most looking forward to in June? 

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