Thursday, 28 August 2014

Book Review: Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Since You've Been GoneTitle: Since You've Been Gone 
Author: Morgan Matson
Series:  Standalone
Pages:  449
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Books
Date of Publication: 3rd July, 2014
Source: Publisher, for review*
Synopsis from Goodreads: It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just...disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night?
Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn?
Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger?
Um...

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she'll find?

Go skinny-dipping?
Wait...what?


My Thoughts:
I've been a fan of Morgan Matson for a few years now, ever since I read Amy & Roger's Epic Detour back in 2012. I then read Second Chance Summer and cried like a baby, and ever since then I've vowed to read everything that Morgan writes because no other book has made me feel as much as that (I literally cried for about an hour after finishing). So, naturally I had high hopes for Since You've Been Gone, and in no way did it disappoint.

What I particularly love about Morgan's books is that, even though there is romance in all three, the stories are also focused on friendship (and family) relationships too. Don't get me wrong, I love reading about a good romance, but I think girl friends (and boy friends!) are so important and I love reading about the bonds between best friends (even if they do go through their rocky patches - which all friendships do!).

Sloane and Emily are best friends. Sloane is outspoken and daring, while Emily is more of a wallflower. One summer, they have everything planned - they're gonna get a job together, spend time on the beach, have summer romances. But, one day, Sloane is gone, leaving nothing but a list of 13 things that Emily has always been scared of doing. Emily believes that carrying out all 13 items on the list - one of which is the terrifying skinny dipping(!) - will lead her to Sloane, and so she sets off to complete the challenges, initially alone, but before long she meets Frank Porter, Collins and Dawn, who grow to become her friends as they help her complete her list.

I loved it. The whole story, I just loved it. It's quite a beefy novel, at 450 ish pages, yet I still managed to read it in two days. I quickly connected to Emily, identifying with her wallflower personality, and knowing that if I were to be presented with the list, I would also be terrified. I felt like I was right there with her, feeling everything she was - when she first discovered Sloane had gone, when she went to the party in The Orchard alone, when she got to know Frank and realised her feelings might be a little more than just friendship. She just seemed so real, so normal, and I think I would genuinely be friends with her.

Morgan Matson is just so good at writing characters - the whole cast of supporting characters was also fabulously written. As the book goes along you get to know Frank, Collins, Dawn and Sloane just as well as you get to know Emily. I particularly love Frank - obviously! There's none of that instalovey rubbish either - it takes a long time for Emily to realise and accept that she might like Frank, and that's the way that it should be. They are friends first, and only then do you fall in love with Frank right along with Emily and it is just so adorable. Loved it!

Since You've Been Gone was an amazing read, one that I'm sure I will revisit in the future. Complete with playlists throughout the novel (which you should make and listen to while reading because it just makes it that little bit better!) this book is a perfect summer read that will get you feeling! I can't wait to read more of Morgan's books, and even though there probably won't be another one for a while, I am so excited already. If you haven't read any of them yet I really suggest that you do, and Since You've Been Gone would be a great place to start.


*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 review of the novel. 

Monday, 25 August 2014

Book Review: Department 19 by Will Hill

Department 19 (Department 19, #1)Title: Department 19
Author: Will Hill
Series:  Department 19, #1
Pages:  489
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Date of Publication: 1st September, 2011
Source: Bought
Synopsis from Goodreads: Jamie Carpenter's life will never be the same. His father is dead, his mother is missing, and he was just rescued by an enormous man named Frankenstein. Jamie is brought to Department 19, where he is pulled into a secret organization responsible for policing the supernatural, founded more than a century ago by Abraham Van Helsing and the other survivors of Dracula. Aided by Frankenstein's monster, a beautiful vampire girl with her own agenda, and the members of the agency, Jamie must attempt to save his mother from a terrifyingly powerful vampire.
"Department 19" takes us through history, across Europe, and beyond - from the cobbled streets of Victorian London to prohibition-era New York, from the icy wastes of Arctic Russia to the treacherous mountains of Transylvania. Part modern thriller, part classic horror, it's packed with mystery, mayhem, and a level of suspense that makes a Darren Shan novel look like a romantic comedy.


My Thoughts:
I've had Department 19 on my bookshelf since it first came out in hardback in 2011. I wanted to read it, but it was huge and I have a hang up about reading big books... I don't dislike them, I just always choose a smaller book. Anyway, my friend began to nag me to read it, and a few twitter peeps too, so I thought it was time. It turns out that the length didn't matter at all - I loved and devoured it and now I WANT MOAR.

I'd heard that Department 19 was a bloody, action packed boys' book. I say, screw that. I'm a girl and I loved it. Yes, there's a lot of fighting, vampires exploding in splatters of blood and coating everything around them, and lots and lots of gore, but it's thrilling and exciting and I basically inhaled it. It's so readable and engaging and right to the very end, to the final cliffhanger, I couldn't tear my eyes away from the pages.

The plot's quite simple: Jamie's father is brutally murdered, and two years later his mother is kidnapped by Alexandru Rosmanov, the oldest vampire in the world. Jamie is lucky and manages to escape, by being taken to safety by Department 19, a top secret government organisation that protects Britain from the supernatural. Jamie vows to save his mother and with the help of Frankenstein and Larissa, he sets off on a seemingly impossible mission.

I loved reading about Department 19 and its history. I thought it was really interesting learning all about its founding families and the rivalries between them. I liked reading about what they do and the training they have to endure. I've not really read many books like this, based around a military organisation, so the fact that it was new and different was really cool.

The characters that Will Hill has created are fantastic. I immediately connected to Jamie and his story and was eager to see it through to the end. There are references to many classic novels in Department 19, such as Dracula, but my favourite was the character of Frankenstein. He's a hulking, seven and a half foot tall green monster with bolts in his neck, and he was great fun to read about. My favourite character though I think was Larissa. As soon as I first read about her, she stood out to me and seemed the most real, even if she was a vampire. Will did a really fab job of creating realistic characters, even in a paranormal thriller, so hats off to him for that.

Overall Department 19 was a brilliant read that I'm quite annoyed at myself for not reading sooner! In the future I'll be less picky about the length of books, I think! I can't wait to read more of the series, and I definitely recommend it, especially if you're like me and haven't yet got around to reading it. It's really worth it!

Friday, 22 August 2014

Book Review: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)Title: Isla and the Happily Ever After 
Author: Stephanie Perkins
Series:  Anna and the French Kiss, #3*
Pages:  375
Publisher: Usborne
Date of Publication: 14th August, 2014
Source: Bought
Synopsis from Goodreads: The café is boiling. The atmosphere is clouded with bittersweet coffee.
Three years of desire rip through my body and burst from my lips: “Josh!”
His head jolts up. For a long time, a very long time, he just stares at me.
And then…he blinks. “Isla?”

Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on brooding artist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And, after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer break, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to face uncertainty about their futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Set against the stunning backdrops of New York, Paris and Barcelona, this is a gorgeous, heart-wrenching and irresistible story of true love, and the perfect conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.


My Thoughts:
While it isn't a series, Isla and the Happily Ever After accompanies Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door, Stephanie Perkins' previous two books. I love both of those to pieces, due to their light and adorable romances, fabulously written settings, and particularly crush worthy male leads, and on these aspects, Isla and the Happily Ever After did not disappoint. I couldn't wait to get started and I devoured it in a matter of hours, and loved every single page.

The story in Isla returns to The School of America in Paris, where Anna was set. I was so pleased to be back reading about it after the break that we get in Lola, and I fell in love with this city I've never been to all over again. Stephanie is just so good at writing these beautiful, romantic places that I just long to go there myself. She also manages to do the same with New York and Barcelona, where Isla and Josh visit in the novel. One day I will go to them all!

As you're probably aware, the main plot is the romance between Isla and Josh. Josh is friends with Etienne and Anna from Anna, and so I was familiar with his character, but it was really cool to get to know him much better in Isla. Isla however, although briefly mentioned in Anna, is a new character and I adored reading through her eyes and getting to know her too. I felt like I could identify a lot with her, which of course helped me to become invested in the story and root for her and Josh. Their romance gets off to a fairytale start and then hits a wall, but at every point their relationship feels realistic and never too far fetched.

One of my favourite things about the novel was reading about all of Josh's drawings. I loved picturing them in my head, even though I could never do them justice, and I think it'd be really cool if they released a version of Isla that someone had illustrated in Josh's style. Or, perhaps someone could realise the graphic memoir that Josh is composing throughout the book. That would be awesome!

Isla and the Happily Ever After is the conclusion to Stephanie Perkins' collection, and I cannot fault it. I have loved these books ever since I read Anna for the first time so I think I'm a little biased and was always going to love Isla, BUT you should go out and pick up a copy regardless because I cannot recommend it enough. Or, if you haven't read Anna or Lola yet, go read those first and then wait for the fab finale that is Isla. You won't be disappointed!


*The three stories do not follow on from each other, as they are about three different sets of characters. However, they are set chronologically, so there are slight spoilers for Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door in Isla and the Happily Ever After, but nothing that you couldn't guess from reading their blurbs! So, you can read them in any order BUT I do recommend you read them in publication order anyway.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Book Review: Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

Let's Get LostTitle: Let's Get Lost
Author: Adi Alsaid
Series:  ~
Pages:  352
Publisher: Mira Ink
Date of Publication: 1st August, 2014
Source: Publisher via NetGalley for review*
Synopsis from Goodreads: One girl could change four lives forever…

Mysterious Leila, who is on the road trip of a lifetime, has a habit of crashing into people’s worlds at the moment they need someone the most.

There’s Hudson, who is willing to throw away his dreams for love. And Bree, a runaway who seizes every Tuesday—and a few stolen goods along the way. Elliot who believes in happy endings…until his own goes off-script. And Sonia who worries that she’s lost her ability to love.

Hudson, Bree, Elliot and Sonia find a friend in Leila. But Leila’s trip could help her discover something bigger — that sometimes, the only way to find what you’re looking for is to get lost along the way…


My Thoughts:
I was super excited to read Let's Get Lost, as it is a roadtrip book, and I love roadtrip books. I'd also read a lot of paranormal fiction, so I was looking forward to a nice light contemporary that I could read in a day and really enjoy, and that's exactly what I got.

What made it better for me was that I actually read it on a roadtrip around Europe. While my roadtrip and Leila's roadtrip in the book were completely different, it really heightened my experience of reading, as I could really connect with Leila and understand what she was doing and why she was doing it. I could imagine her sitting in her car, blasting the music and singing loud because that's what I've been doing for the last two weeks and so it was really cool.

The book is split into five parts, the first four of which focus on Hudson, Bree, Elliot, and Sonia, four teenagers that Leila meets on her travels, and the final part is when Leila finally reaches her destination and we find out her story. I really enjoyed each of the mini stories that Leila makes, especially with Hudson. I really liked how she had such an impact on their lives, and then moved on to help someone else. The lack of lingering sentimentality at the end of each story helped to keep the mood light but reminded me that there was something about Leila that I didn't quite understand yet, which kept the story suspenseful and exciting.

My favourite bit by far was finally finding out about Leila's past. I was thinking that I'd probably end up rating the book about three stars, but when I reached the end and read the fifth part about Leila, I bumped it up to four. I won't spoil anything but it was really heartwarming to read and I was actually totally surprised about Leila, which is always nice. I'm not the biggest fan of predictability!

Overall, Let's Get Lost was a good read that was perfect for holiday, when you've got nothing much to worry or think about. It's light and fun, but has an air of something more about it that isn't revealed until the end. If you're looking for something meaty and thrilling, then perhaps not, but if you're looking for a light contemporary, then this would be a perfect fit for you.


*Huge thanks to Mira Ink and NetGalley for allowing me access to this title in exchange for an honest review! In no way has this affected my opinion of the novel.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Book Review: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead

Silver Shadows (Bloodlines, #5)Title: Silver Shadows 
Author: Richelle Mead
Series:  Bloodlines
Pages:  380
Publisher: Penguin
Date of Publication: 29th July 2014
Source: Publisher for review*
Synopsis from Goodreads: Sydney Sage is an Alchemist, one of a group of humans who dabble in magic and serve to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires. They protect vampire secrets—and human lives.

In The Fiery Heart, Sydney risked everything to follow her gut, walking a dangerous line to keep her feelings hidden from the Alchemists.

Now in the aftermath of an event that ripped their world apart, Sydney and Adrian struggle to pick up the pieces and find their way back to each other. But first, they have to survive.

For Sydney, trapped and surrounded by adversaries, life becomes a daily struggle to hold on to her identity and the memories of those she loves. Meanwhile, Adrian clings to hope in the face of those who tell him Sydney is a lost cause, but the battle proves daunting as old demons and new temptations begin to seize hold of him. . . .

Their worst fears now a chilling reality, Sydney and Adrian face their darkest hour in this heart-pounding fifth installment in the New York Times bestselling Bloodlines series, where all bets are off.


My Thoughts:
I'd just left home for a week's holiday when I received a text from my dad, telling me that Silver Shadows had arrived in the post for me. To say I was excited is a little bit of an understatement. As soon as I got home and could get my greedy little hands on it, I devoured it, eager to carry on with Sydney and Adrian's story and find out what happened after the monster of a cliffhanger that The Fiery Heart left us with.

The Fiery Heart left us with Sydney separated from Adrian and taken captive by the Alchemists for what they believed was the worst crime possible - intimacy with a Moroi. In Silver Shadows, we see Sydney endure the Alchemists' awful re-education process, to try to re-programme her and make her realise that what she did was filthy and vile and very, very wrong. Naturally Sydney was stronger than their original efforts and so as the story goes along they try harder and harder to recondition her, and let me tell you I have not been so angry at a book for a long, long time. Good angry - I was just livid at the Alchemists for putting Sydney through everything - which I won't elaborate on so as not to spoil but GAH if you're going to read it just prepare yourself for something horrid.

The novel is told in alternating perspectives between Sydney and Adrian and so we get both of their stories running parallel to each other. I liked seeing Adrian grow significantly throughout the book and by now he's so different to the Adrian we first met in both VA and at the start of Bloodlines, and it's really great. Together the two make big steps in tier relationship and make bigger risks for each other and it was really heartwarming to read about that. There's just something about Sydney and Adrian that I just can't get enough of! I'm actually beginning to think that I like them more than I liked Rose and Dmitri in the original Vampire Academy series... Maybe!

I won't say any more about the plot to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but it's definitely a page turner! I couldn't read fast enough and when I had to stop reading to go to sleep or go out for dinner with my family I couldn't wait to get back to reading it just to find out what happens next. Overall it's a brilliant addition to the Bloodlines series - I think my favourite so far! - and I cannot recommend it enough.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

July 2014

Hello! School's out and summer's started, so I have lots of time for reading ahead of me! Here's what I've been reading in July:

Heart-Shaped Bruise  Boys Don't Knit  Bella's Reading...

1. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick
3. Trouble by Non Pratt
4. Heart Shaped Bruise by Tanya Byrne
5. Boys Don't Knit by TS Easton
6. Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith (DNF)
7. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

I read quite a lot this month (especially considering I was on a summer camp for a week and didn't have much chance to read!) I started off the month with books by Sarra Manning, Non Pratt and Tanya Byrne so that I could get them signed at YALC, which was AWESOME. They were all really good and I recommend them completely! I then read Boys Don't Knit, continuing with reading UKYA (as most of the YALC authors were UKYA) which was awesome (it's about knitting - what's not to love?) and really funny, and I can't wait to read the sequel in August! I was super excited for Grasshopper Jungle, but unfortunately it bored me and also I didn't really like the writing style or voice, and I didn't care for the main character, Austin. I got about half way through - I might go back to it at some point but I probably won't, sadly! I decided then to read Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen because I love her, and I was sure she wouldn't let me down like GJ did! Of course, it was really good and although it wasn't my favourite Austen, it was witty and fun and just brilliant.

Book of the month...


I just love the Pride and Prejudice story, and this companion to The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, does not disappoint! I'll be reviewing it later this month so look out for that!

This month's posts...

REVIEW: Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski
REVIEW: Murder Most Unladylike by Robin Stevens
REVIEW: The Worst Girlfriend In The World by Sarra Manning

New books this month...


I got quite a lot of books this month - some for review, some I bought, some gifted and some borrowed! I bought Vivian Versus America, The Coldest Girl In Coldtown and The Manifesto On How To Be Interesting at YALC and can't wait for any of them, and I borrowed The Iron Trial from Cicely (you can check out her awesome blog here) and it looks amazeballs, so thank you Cicely!. Also, a huge thank you to Hodder, Simon and Schuster, Faber & Faber and Penguin for my review books this month - especially for Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead which I am DESPERATE to read because I love the Bloodlines series so much, and for Winterkill by Kate A Boorman, because it looks super interesting. Thanks to Jim and Nina for Curtsies and Conspiracies, and Grasshopper Jungle and Purity too! :D 

Here are some of the awesome titles coming out in August:

The Illusionists (Fearsome Dreamer, #2)  An English Boy in New York (Boys Don't Knit, #2)  The Girl Who Walked On Air
Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie  Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)  Let's Get Lost

What were you reading in July?
Have you read any of these books?
What are you most looking forward to reading in August? 


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