Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry OnTitle: Carry On
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Series:  n/a
Pages:  517
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Date of Publication: 8th October, 2015
Source: Bought
Synopsis from Goodreads: 
Simon Snow just wants to relax and savour his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he'll be safe. Simon can't even enjoy the fact that his room-mate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can't stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you're the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savour anything.


My Thoughts:
Before I start this review, I feel I should explain how this book came about. Rainbow Rowell's novel Fangirl is about, you guessed it, a fangirl called Cath who writes fanfiction about a character called Simon Snow. The Simon Snow books are the world of Fangirl's equivalent to our Harry Potter, I guess, and Carry On is supposedly the full fanfic that Cath writes in Fangirl. You don't have to have read Fangirl to read Carry On, however you should anyway!

I was super excited to get a full Simon Snow story, since in Fangirl you get so many little snippets of his world, but you never quite get to see the full picture. I couldn't wait to fully immerse myself in the world of Mages and get to know Simon, Baz, Penelope and Agatha properly, for a whole book, and I was not disappointed. It's been compared many times to Harry Potter and the similarities are definitely there, however I'm a big fan of HP so it didn't really bother me too much. Although it took me almost a whole month what with uni and life and all that jazz getting in the way, I really enjoyed it.

The book starts off with the start of the school year. I really liked reading about Watford and the setting of the school, and the inside covers of the hardback are colourful maps of the school grounds so that was definitely a bonus! I was pleasantly surprised to find that the novel is set in England which I just wasn't expecting from an American author, and although there were a couple of things that I didn't think a British person would say overall it was very convincing.

Obviously, the relationship between Simon and Baz was the highlight of the novel for me. I loved how it developed from Simon hating Baz at the beginning, yet still not being able to stop thinking about him, to a truce that was almost friendship, to something more. It was especially cute because right from the start, from Fangirl you know they will end up together and it's just a matter of when, so it's impossible not to read and be rooting for them, even when at times it seemed impossible that it would happen! They are so good together and I loved it.

Their relationship is not the only plotline however - Simon also is 'the Chosen One' who must defeat the Insidious Humdrum, and they also have to find out who killed Baz's mother. These plots were pretty good, although again I couldn't thinking of Harry and Voldemort and Penelope's super brain was just like Hermione's, but I think this just made me like it more because I love HP and also that's not to say it wasn't written well and can't stand on it's own. I was surprised by the ending so it wasn't predictable, which is always good. The plot moves fast towards the end so it's hard to put down, and the multiple narrators are interwoven really effectively to keep you hooked in and unable to put the book down. And so , overall it really isn't one to be missed, (especially for fans of Fangirl)!

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Book Review: Night Owls by Jenn Bennett

Night OwlsTitle: Night Owls
Author: Jenn Bennett
Series:  n/a
Pages:  272
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Date of Publication: 13th August, 2015
Source: Publisher for review*
Synopsis from Goodreads: Feeling alive is always worth the risk.

Meeting Jack on the Owl—San Francisco's night bus—turns Beatrix's world upside down. Jack is charming, wildly attractive...and possibly one of San Francisco's most notorious graffiti artists.

But Jack is hiding a piece of himself. On midnight rides and city rooftops, Beatrix begins to see who this enigmatic boy really is.


My Thoughts:
I didn't really know anything about Night Owls when it dropped through my letterbox, but after a few weeks when reviewers had started to read it, I began to see it everywhere. I'd seen comparisons to Graffiti Moon which I actually didn't enjoy that much so I was slightly apprehensive, but I'm happy to tell you guys that I really enjoyed Night Owls. It portrays being a teenager accurately and realistically; sensitively exploring everything from family issues, relationships, and mental health, as well as LGBT themes, all packed into just 300 pages.

Bex and Jack meet on a night train one night, and their connection is instant. Bex doesn't know anything about this mysterious boy sitting opposite her, until he accidentally drops a can of gold spray paint. She realises he's San Francisco's secret vandal, who's been painting huge words throughout the streets at night. Despite knowing he's a criminal wanted by the police, as Bex gets to know him, she can't help but fall for him, but he's got some secrets and baggage of his own...

Looking back through my review history, it's quite clear that YA romantic contemporaries are my thing, and so this was right up my alley. As I began to read, I quickly fell into the rhythm of Bex's narrative and became invested in her story. I particularly enjoyed reading about her unusual hobby - drawing scientifically accurate anatomical diagrams. Although at times it was pretty gruesome (and aww, Minnie!), it was really interesting and I have a kind of morbid curiosity that makes me really want to see her drawings, even though it is really not my kind of thing (things that are inside your body should remain inside your body, in my opinion. I don't need to see them!). Jack's graffiti was also really cool and although I do not condone vandalism of any kind, I enjoyed reading about his reasoning behind it and the scenes where he actually creates his pieces were some of my favourite in the novel.

However, Bex's relationship with Jack did seem kind of instalove-y, if I'm honest. She declares that she is in love with him pretty early on, and although he was rather swoon worthy I'll admit, I couldn't ignore the voice in the back of my mind screaming 'you hardly know him!'. Anyway. They don't actually get together until about half way through the book though so perhaps I'm being slightly unfair; it just bothered me for a lot of the book so I felt I had to mention it. Once they'd got to know each other properly though and spent more time with each other I found myself rooting for their relationship and believing in it a lot more so it did redeem itself - don't worry!

I can easily see Night Owls becoming one of the biggest releases of late 2015, and I definitely think that it is deserving of that. It's a really excellent read that pulls you in and keeps you hooked until the end, and I even found myself tearing up at the resolution (even though I was in a car full of my family, who would definitely have laughed at me, had they noticed). I recommend you get yourself to your local bookstore to get yourself a copy as soon as possible as you really won't be disappointed.


*Huge thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing me with a copy of this in exchange for an honest review. In no way has this affected my opinion of the novel.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Book Review: How To Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski and Lauren Myracle

How to Be BadTitle: How To Be Bad
Author: E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle
Series:  n/a
Pages:  288
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Date of UK Publication: 4th June, 2015
Source: Bought
Synopsis from Goodreads:
When you're tired of being good, sometimes you gotta be a little bad ...

Jesse, Vicks and Mel couldn't be more different. Jesse, a righteous Southern gal who's as thoughtful as she is uptight, is keeping a secret that she knows will change her life forever. Vicks is a wild child: seemingly cool, calm and collected on the outside, but inside she's furious at herself for being so anxious about her neglectful boyfriend. And Mel is the new girl in town. She's already been dismissed as just another rich kid, but all she wants is to get over some of her fears and find some true friends.

But for all their differences, the girls discover they've got one thing in common - they're desperate to escape. Desperate to get the heck out of Niceville and discover their true 'badass' selves! Even if it's just for the weekend ... One 'borrowed' car later, it's time to hit the road and head for Miami. Hearts will be broken, friendships will be tested, and a ridiculously hot stranger could change the course of everything.


My Thoughts:
Ever since I read We Were Liars, I've been a big fan of E. Lockhart. I read The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks last year and loved it, so I had high hopes for more of the same from How To Be Bad. While it wasn't at all what I wanted, it was still enjoyable and I'm glad I've read it.

Three girls, Jesse, Vicks, and Mel, work in the local Waffle House and they've all had enough of their lives and decide to go on an elaborate road trip to escape. The novel is narrated in alternating POV, with each of the three authors taking a character each. I think Mel was the most relatable, but Jesse was the hardest for me to get used to.

However Jesse was also the character that I found most interesting, with her strong Christian views affecting everything that she does. I liked seeing such a steadfast and unashamed faith in a character as it's not something I've ever seen in a YA novel, but I do think that she was overexaggerated and her faith was portrayed negatively, which I didn't think was very fair. She fell into the pushy, close-minded Christian stereotype and for the most part (or at least in my experience), Christians are not like that. In Britain at least, perhaps it's different in America? I don't know, but I did enjoy her discussion of VeggieTales. You should watch them if you haven't. They're very silly... Anyway!

The novel's a lot more character driven than plot driven (at times the plot is rather ludicrous, and at others just plain not-that-interesting), but I didn't mind that. At the beginning none of the characters were particularly likeable, but by the end their friendships grow and change and they develop into better people which is always nice to see. I enjoyed watching their friendship blossom, even through their fights, and it's always great to see a novel whose main plot is the development of female friendships. Yes, there are boys involved but only secondarily - go girls!

While How To Be Bad did not deliver everything that I wanted from it, I did enjoy it and was quite happy to sit and read it almost all in one sitting. If, like me, you're looking for something as good and individual as E. Lockhart's previous titles, We Were Liars and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, perhaps look elsewhere, but I'd recommend it more if you're a contemporary enthusiast and for fans specifically looking for a good YA road trip.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Book Review: Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

Am I Normal Yet?Title: Am I Normal Yet?
Author: Holly Bourne
Series:  Normal Trilogy, #1
Pages:  434
Publisher: Usborne
Date of Publication: 1st August, 2015
Source: Bought
Synopsis from Goodreads: All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…

But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?


My Thoughts:
Ever since I read a proof copy of Soulmates back in 2013, I've been a big fan of Holly Bourne. I devoured Soulmates in only one day despite it's 500 pages, and The Manifesto On How To Be Interesting was probably one of my favourite reads last year. Therefore I was super excited to get my hands on a copy of Am I Normal Yet? at YALC and I couldn't wait to get started.

Mental health is a big issue today, but to be honest I've never really thought too much about it because it's not something I've seriously ever encountered or considered, until reading Am I Normal Yet?, which now that I've written it down is really bad, I know! However, now that I've finished reading the novel, which is so honestly told from Evie's POV as she returns to school after first becoming ill and throughout a relapse, I feel like I can understand much better what she went through and how real sufferers are thinking.

I have to start this with a hats off to Holly for being able to depict Evie's illness accurately yet sensitively - I can't imagine it was easy! Despite the tough subject matter, Evie's voice was so easy to read and individual and I was able to lose myself in her voice and story. I was really interested in the psychology of her illness, for example her thinking behind having to touch lampposts six times or wash her hands several times, because although it was a totally alien thing to me, it made perfect sense in Evie's head. Equally though I loved the moments that Evie spent at school (though not when she was talking to all the douchey guys - seriously not a single guy in this book is nice! It irked me, sorry - I know it's a feminist book and all but not all guys are bad, and it's good to have a healthy relationship, right?!), and particularly those conversations that she has with her two new friends, Lottie and Amber.

It is during these conversations that Holly manages to integrate discussions of feminism into her novel. They discuss many modern day issues surrounding feminism, such as ever-taboo periods, and the Bechdel test. The girls form a 'Spinster Club' and while sometimes these meetings felt a bit like an info dump, they voiced many thoughts I've had and heard discussed by my school's Feminist Society, while at the same time being pretty laugh-out-loud funny. Feminism is so obviously something that Holly is passionate about and it's so great to see it shining through in her novel.

Am I Normal Yet? was brilliant, and the fact that it is a trilogy and there's more to come in the future is super exciting and I can't wait for the next two books! I think it's such an important read for everyone, to gain insight into what it's really like to live with a mental illness in an interesting and fun way, and for that reason, you definitely need to get yourself a copy, pronto.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Book Review: Lorali by Laura Dockrill

LoraliTitle: Lorali
Author: Laura Dockrill
Series:  n/a
Pages:  208
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Date of Publication: 2nd July, 2015
Source: For review via NetGalley*
Synopsis from Goodreads: Colourful, raw, brave, rich and fantastical - this mermaid tale is not for the faint-hearted.

Looking after a naked girl he found washed up under Hastings pier isn't exactly how Rory had imagined spending his sixteenth birthday. But more surprising than finding her in the first place is discovering where she has come from.

Lorali is running not just from the sea, not just from her position as princess, but her entire destiny. Lorali has rejected life as a mermaid, and become human.

But along with Lorali's arrival, and the freak weather suddenly battering the coast, more strange visitors begin appearing in Rory's bemused Sussex town. With beautifully coiffed hair, sharp-collared shirts and a pirate ship shaped like a Tudor house, the Abelgare boys are a mystery all of their own. What are they really up to? Can Rory protect Lorali? And who from? And where does she really belong, anyway?


My Thoughts:
Before YALC (Young Adult Literature Convention), I'd heard about Lorali but I wasn't really sure that it would be my cup of tea. I've read a couple of other YA mermaid books several years ago, and while I did really enjoy them, I wasn't particularly interested in reading more. However, after meeting Laura Dockrill at YALC and hearing her talk about and read from the book, I decided actually it was something that I was interested in. And it was one of the strangest and most unpredictable books I've read in a really long time, but I enjoyed it!

The novel is told from three perspectives: Lorali - the mermaid princess who 'surfaces' and washes up on shore, naked and with new legs to replace her tail; Rory - the boy who finds her on the beach; and the sea. Firstly I couldn't get over the fact that the two main characters were called Rory and Lorali (Gilmore Girls, anyone?!), and secondly I was super intrigued by the sea's narrative. I think it was the first time I'd read from the perspective of something that wasn't human or animal! While I think that all of the characters could have taken a little more time to develop (it seemed just a little rushed), they were likeable enough and I enjoyed reading their stories.

I did really like Laura Dockrill's writing style, even if it did take a little getting used to. When Lorali first surfaces and is getting to learn how to form words into sentences, her narrative is stilted and really just a string of words, which sounds kind of confusing and kind of annoying but once I'd got used to it, I thought that it really fit with the naivety and child-like nature of someone who's never spent any time with humans or even on land.

The sea's chapters however were just plain weird. I could never anticipate what on earth would happen next, but this only made them more exciting and interesting. I'm not sure how necessary it was to narrate from the sea's point of view since it mostly followed the movements of a set of sea pirates but it gave a nice overview of everything that was happening in a way that isn't really possible with first person narration, so it worked in an unusual kind of way. Hopefully that makes sense! It was always really clear from the writing which perspective I was reading from, which in a three person (voice?) narrative, is vitally important.

Lorali was nothing at all like I expected but really good nonetheless. Don't be put off by the fact that it's a mermaid book like I was - it's so much darker than The Little Mermaid and mermaid princesses trying to find their princes! Complete with betrayal, wicked but dapper-ly-dressed pirates and lusty sea monsters, Lorali really does have a little bit of everything to keep you on your toes, and with a plot made up of a maze of unpredictable (and often just downright strange) twists and turns, it's not one to be missed.


*Huge thanks to Hot Key Books and NetGalley for allowing me access to this book in exchange for an honest review. In no way has this affected my opinion of the novel. 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Book Review: Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill

Only Ever YoursTitle: Only Ever Yours
Author: Louise O'Neill
Series:  N/A
Pages:  390
Publisher: Quercus
Date of Publication: 3rd July 2014
Source: Library
Synopsis from Goodreads: In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.

For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.

Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.

But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. ..
And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.

Freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known. . .


My Thoughts:
So I haven't written a book review for months and months, but I finished Only Ever Yours this morning and I need to talk about it.  I haven't had as many emotions and thoughts from reading a book I think EVER, and I've never simultaneously hated and loved a book in quite the way that I did Only Ever Yours.  I first heard about the book when it won the YA Book Prize, but I was mid-exams and didn't have time to really think about it.  I picked it up by chance at the library and then I went to YALC, where Louise O'Neill was at the bloggers' brunch, and on a panel that I attended, and I decided that I should read it.

I'd been warned before reading that it would be incredibly depressing and that I should only read it when I was ready to have all joy ripped from me.  That is an accurate description of the novel!  Weirdly, it's so gripping and I couldn't put it down, but as I read more and more I just got angrier and angrier at the world in which these characters were growing up in.  In frieda's world, females are no longer born, they are designed for three purposes: a Companion to a male - his wife and mother of his sons; a Concubine - always willing to please the males in any way, shape, or form; or very rarely as a Chastity - dedicated to teaching new females how to best please males.

The world is horrific.  There is so much fat shaming and slut shaming and right from page 1, frieda, the main character, is plagued by thoughts of, 'I'm not good enough, I'm too fat, I'm not pretty enough, there is always room for Improvement'.  The girls are not even considered worthy of a capital letter at the beginning of their names.  At times, the pages were genuinely difficult to read, but then at the same time it's weird, because even despite the advances that feminism is making today, it still has such a long way to go which became clear to me as I read when I considered that a lot of the objectification and need for perfection that is displayed in the School in the novel was familiar to me.  I went to an all girls secondary school and I have experienced or been witness to some of the fat and slut shaming, and while it wasn't as bad as in the novel, it is easy to imagine it escalating and turning into that in other schools or in the future, as the pressure to be perfect only becomes greater.  Scary stuff!

It's hard to know what to say about a book like this, only that despite the difficulty of the subject matter, it is super readable.  I read the majority of it on busy trains, and although people were chatting and jostling about me, I was engrossed and only stopped reading when I had to alight.  I knew the ending was going to be bad yet I raced through the pages, eager to know what happened, and then once I finished, once my heart had been ripped out by hopelessness and defeat of the final pages, I just lay in my bed and stared at the wall for a bit, unable to think about anything else.  Sounds a bit silly but it's true!

I think you should read this book.  Maybe read it with a friend so you can talk about it as you go (I finished and went straight to Twitter) because I think it's an important read in today's world.  I don't really know what else to say to do it proper justice apart from it's thought-provoking, dark, and depressing, there's not a glimmer of hope and literally nothing is okay about it, but at the same time, it is probably one of the best young adult novels I have read this year.


Saturday, 21 February 2015

Book Review: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson

The Madness Underneath (Shades of London, #2)Title: The Madness Underneath
Author: Maureen Johnson
Series:  Shades of London
Pages:  290
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's Books
Date of Publication: 26th February, 2013
Source: Publisher for review*
Synopsis from Goodreads: When madness stalks the streets of London, no one is safe…

There's a creepy new terror haunting modern-day London.
Fresh from defeating a Jack the Ripper killer, Rory must put her new-found hunting skills to the test before all hell breaks loose…

But enemies are not always who you expect them to be and crazy times call for crazy solutions.


My Thoughts:
(This is a review of a reread, because being the terribly inconsistent blogger that I am, I never actually reviewed this when I read it the first time round. Soz about that.)

So the Shades of London series has been in my favourites ever since I first read the first book, back when it came out. In preparation for reading The Shadow Cabinet, I decided to reread The Madness Underneath, and I am so glad I did. I'd forgotten almost everything that happened, including that bombshell of an ending, and now I am super stoked for book three.

Maureen Johnson has managed to create the perfect blend of contemporary and the paranormal. At the moment, fun contemporaries seem to be my genre of choice (just take a look at my 'Read' shelf on Goodreads), but I still love a good paranormal story sometimes so this book bridged that gap perfectly. I loved the boarding school life contemp bits just as much as I loved the ghost hunting paranormal aspects. There's a little bit of something to suit everyone, for sure!

I love Rory. The novel is so readable with her sarcastic and witty voice shining through. Maureen has captured the voice of the teenager absolutely perfectly. I could empathise with her worries about school, and her frustration with being kept out of the loop with the ghost stuff. I also really enjoyed reading about her thoughts and feelings post-attack: terror and unease, but also the empowerment that comes with surviving such an attack. I'd never really thought about it that way so that was really interesting and inspiring for me as a reader too. *fist pumps*

One thing I hadn't forgotten about the book was the one hundred mile an hour pace that keeps you on your toes throughout the novel, but without ever feeling that things are rushed. Events occur quickly and Maureen keeps the twists coming, making for a very exciting and thrilling adventure. Because of the pace it's difficult to put down and I could quite happily whizz through one hundred pages in an hour. It moved so fast there's no time for stopping!

The book ends on one almighty cliffhanger that makes me so glad that this time around I have The Shadow Cabinet right next to be, ready and waiting to be read. I cannot wait to find out what happens next and if the events at the end of this play out how they are supposed to (I doubt that very much!) and if they don't, where the story will take us next. The Shades of London books are an absolute must read for all YA fans because you are sorely missing out if they've passed you by. I cannot recommend them enough!


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

Friday, 13 February 2015

Blog Tour Review: Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines by Katy Cannon

Title: Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines
Author: Katy Cannon
Series:  Companion to Love, Lies and Lemon Pies
Pages:  368
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Date of Publication: 2nd February 2015
Source: Publisher for review*
Synopsis from Goodreads: Grace: This was supposed to be Grace’s starring year, until she opened the door to a family secret that changed everything. Now she’s stuck making costumes in Sewing Club and watching someone else play the lead role – unless she can find a way to win it back.

Connor: Far from home and exiled to a new school, all Connor wants is to keep a low profile and get through the year. But agreeing to help his step-dad out with the school play means he’s soon caught up in Grace’s schemes.

Grace had a plan for this year – and it didn’t involve learning to sew. But being out of the spotlight isn’t the disaster she imagined, even if Connor is convinced she’s still a diva extraordinaire. Can Grace prove she’s really changed and save the play from the sidelines, even though her family is coming apart at the seams?


My Thoughts:
Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines is the sequel to Love, Lies and Lemon Pies. When I read Lemon Pies, although I really loved Lottie and Mac's story, I was eager to know more about all their friends in Bake Club. Grace was probably the character that I knew the least about (and liked the least too) so I apprehensive as to how Sewing Machines would sit with me, since it didn't follow on from Lemon Pies but switched to focus on Grace. However, I quickly became engrossed in Grace's story, and I think I might have even enjoyed this second book in the collection even more than the first.

Grace is dealing with some major changes to her home life, and finding it pretty difficult. This leads her to missing her audition for the lead role in her school play, landing her with the 'lowly' role of costumes and props mistress. While at first she plots and schemes her way through to getting the lead role from Violet, her nemesis, she quickly discovers that there's a lot more to life than being the star of the show.

I think my main reason for enjoying Sewing Machines than Lemon Pies is Grace herself. I felt that where Lottie lacked development in the first book, Grace made up for by the bucketful. I loved seeing her grow into her role as costume mistress, and come to realise that actually she was even more important than she ever could have been in the starring role. The fact that she made mistakes (frequently and really quite spectacularly) only made her more endearing and I really enjoyed getting to know her a lot better than she comes across in Lemon Pies (which I guess is exactly the point!).

I also really liked how although Grace's relationship with Connor is a major plot point, I don't feel like it was the main one. Their relationship is adorable and I really liked Connor, but I think the novel is a lot more focused on Grace's development and maturity growth as a character and finding her own feet in the world, which was really inspiring to read. That't not to say that I didn't enjoy the romantic aspects of the novel though... ;)

The plot was really fun and I enjoyed reading about all the production preparation and Drama Club as well as all of the sewing. I had a sewing phase a couple of years ago so it was really fun to read about all the sewing and I definitely think I'm gonna get back into it later this year when exams are over, hopefully using some of the instructions in the novel. Obviously also the spattering of Bake Club meetings and events were a lot of fun to revisit too and I'm looking forward in future books to read more about all of these clubs and characters that Katy Cannon has created. I want to go to this school!

All in all, Katy Cannon has written a marvellous series with these novels. To put it very simply: They're a joy to read, with likeable characters and fun and interesting storylines. I heartily recommend that you read them!

Don't forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour! Go to @stripesbook or @KatyJoCannon on Twitter for more info.

*Huge thanks to Stripes Publishing for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review. In no way has this affected my opinion of the novel. 

Friday, 16 January 2015

Book Review: All Fall Down by Ally Carter

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1)Title: All Fall Down
Author: Ally Carter
Series:  Embassy Row, #1
Pages:  320
Publisher: Orchard Books
Date of Publication: 5th February, 2015
Source: NetGalley for review*
Synopsis from Goodreads: Grace can best be described as a daredevil, an Army brat, and a rebel. She is also the only granddaughter of perhaps the most powerful ambassador in the world and Grace has spent every summer of her childhood running across the roofs of Embassy Row.

Now, at age sixteen, she's come back to stay - in order to solve the mystery of her mother's death. In the process, she uncovers an international conspiracy of unsettling proportions, and must choose her friends and watch her foes carefully if she and the world are to be saved.


My Thoughts:
I am a huge fan of Ally Carter, as you probably know if you've been following me on Twitter and on the blog at all since last summer when I first read I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have To Kill You. I've read all of the Gallagher Girls novels, all of the published Heist Society books, as well as her mini crossover novella Double Crossed and her recent short Christmas romance in My True Love Gave To Me (note: if you haven't read any of those, GO NOW.) Anyway, she is my joint most read author (with Richelle Mead) and so clearly I had very high hopes for All Fall Down. While I think I still like Gallagher Girls more, All Fall Down was an incredibly promising start to a series which I'm sure, in true Ally Carter style, will only get better. I can't wait for more!

Grace has had a tough few years away from Embassy Row, where she used to spend her summers as a child. Now she's back, this time to stay, and to finally find out what really happened concerning her mother's death - a labelled 'accident' that she's been sure for years was actually a murder. Finally, with friends to back her up as she uncovers more and more details, she's determined to reveal the truth, but she must be careful not to accidentally start World War Three in the process.

I loved the world that Ally Carter has set up in All Fall Down. A huge part of all of Ally's novels are the settings and the worlds in which her characters live, which are always magnificently imagined and constructed, in such a way that while they're pretty far fetched in real life terms, they don't seem at all unusual within the novels. The world created for Embassy Row is no different and I loved reading about the different national embassies all on one street and how culturally they all differ so hugely from one another despite lying only a few metres away. I also particularly love reading about the conflicts and the politics involved - I usually hate politics but it was so interesting to read about who's annoyed with whom and the tension that occurred as a result. Brilliant. I definitely think that this world has a huge amount of potential for future sequels!

Grace, the main character, is fantastic. She's a little unhinged from three years of being convinced that her mother was murdered but having no one believe her and having to be physically restrained as a result, and Ally portrayed her instability and fragility perfectly. I was frustrated with her when she wasn't believed, but on the flip side I could also completely understand why her family and friends didn't believe her, which meant that I felt I could connect with the characters and really become immersed in the story. I didn't always agree with Grace, which made it exciting and very tense and as a result I could not stop turning the pages (or, you know, pressing the next page button on my Kindle, but that doesn't sound quite as good ;) ).

All Fall Down also has a fabulous cast of secondary characters. Each of her friends and acquaintances from all the different embassies were so individual and fleshed out that I could easily imagine them all and when combined with the twists and turns of the super fast paced plot, it was simply such fun to read. I haven't enjoyed reading a book so much for such a long time what with school and work and so All Fall Down  really is a fabulous read and a great start to a series which, I'm sure can only get even better.


*Huge thanks to Orchard Books 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. 
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