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The Darkest Minds
The Darkest Minds
by Alexandra Bracken
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.39

5.0 out of 5 stars 'It’s so easy to get lost in the world created in The Darkest Minds.', 16 Feb 2014
This review is from: The Darkest Minds (Paperback)
What can I say about The Darkest Minds that will sum up its total awesomeness? I was a little worried about starting it because of how much hype surrounds it, but I wasn’t let down at all and I ended up loving it.

When kids starting coming down with IAAN, and then dying, the remaining children are left with supernatural powers. When Ruby wakes up on her tenth birthday, she has changed, and a freaky accident leads to her being sent to one of the brutal rehabilitation camps. There the kids are sorted into groups and barely survive. Every day brings another struggle. At sixteen, Ruby manages to escape, but is life outside of the camps any easier?

It’s so easy to get lost in the world created in The Darkest Minds. I was so invested in the lives of the characters that I felt what they were feeling. My facial expressions must have been a sight to witness when I read this because the imagery used makes everything feel very realistic. Not to mention that I’m the same age as many of the characters so, if this was real, I would be in the same situation. Let me tell you that I would not survive a day.

The camps reminded me a lot of Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War and there were many similarities – the human testing and the harsh work, for example. I can’t imagine being put into one of the camps, helpless and frightened. The camp that Ruby was in, especially, was extreme and I would have been petrified.

Speaking of Ruby, I loved her. She had so much on her shoulders and I think she’s a truly admirable character. I really want to be best friends with her! Bracken has made her character development very interesting. She comes across as a clueless and naïve young girl but there’s a lot going on beneath the surface that we don’t realise. This is the strongest character development I think I may have ever read and Ruby’s arc was so complex. She goes on one heck of a journey throughout this book and I liked that we got to read about her when she was much younger too.

On to the secondary characters… Zu was such a cutie. I’d really like her to be my sister because she’s one of those people who are just so huggable. I’m really curious as to what will happen to her in the next novel and I’m really looking forward to reading more about her.

Chubs is another character who had such a solid character development. There were so many different layers to his character and all were explored in such depth.

I loved Liam so much. Another character who you got to know so well and I became so invested in him. His and Ruby’s chemistry was so believable and it makes me squeal just thinking about it. I LOVED every scene he was in.

I cannot stop gushing about this book. I really hope it’s published in the UK soon because we’re seriously missing out. Bracken has a rare talent that you don’t see very often and I can’t wait to read more by her.

by Keren David
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.35

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'It blew me away, and it takes a real stunner of a book to do that.', 16 Feb 2014
This review is from: Salvage (Hardcover)
I must write a warning before I get into the proper review: my review will not do this book the justice it deserves. Believe me, it blew me away, and it takes a real stunner of a book to do that.

Adopted when she’s very young, Cass doesn’t often thing about her life before, let alone her brother. So when a boy contacts her on Facebook one day, claiming to be her brother, she should ignore it, shouldn’t she? But her adoptive family is falling apart and Cass is drawn more and more to a life unlike the stable and normal one she’s lead so far. Aidan, though, has a past totally different to Cass’, and not all of it has been respectable.

The one thing about David’s books that I love is that she can write about any subject and deal with it in just the right way. Never in this book was there an uncomfortable moment and every single word urged me forward. I read Salvage in a day and couldn’t stop thinking about it afterwards. UKYA is known for its gritty topics and this is especially gritty.

One of the themes that most interested me was the class differences between Cass and Aidan. Even though they had the same blood running through their veins, shared the same mother, Cass was privileged and lived with a politician, whereas Aidan had a low-paying job and a girlfriend and her child to support. The differences were always there at the back of your mind and the dissimilarity between the two was clear.

I enjoyed seeing Cass’ naïveté because it helped me to understand Aidan’s life better. I’ve never lived like he does so I think seeing things through Cass’ eyes helped to get to know him more. My mum even says I look like Cass from the back cover, so it was hard not to like her!

Speaking of Aidan, I found him interesting to read about because of the reasons above. I found it fascinating to think that his life could have been so different if he was adopted by the right person. The insight into the life in care and foster homes was thought-provoking and I found it very easy to comprehend.

Salvage was riveting and compelling and I couldn’t put it down. It’s a real eye-opener and I think everybody should read it. It’s a book I think could be taught well in schools and readers will become easily invested in the story. David has produced a masterpiece that I can’t give enough praise to.

The Key To The Golden Firebird
The Key To The Golden Firebird
by Maureen Johnson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.95

5.0 out of 5 stars 'Johnson deals with the subject of death in an emotional but realistic way, whilst creating a world I want to be a part of.', 16 Feb 2014
I really wish The Key to the Golden Firebird had not sat on my TBR pile so long, collecting dust and sobbing to itself because it still hasn’t been read. In other words: I wish I had read this book sooner. Ditto to the rest of Maureen Johnson’s books.

When their father dies, the Gold sisters’ lives change irrevocably. The Key to the Golden Firebird follows the lives of May, Brooks and Palmer after the months following their father’s death. Brooks is on a slippery slope, falling apart inside; Palmer has changed a lot; and all May wants to do is keep the family together and pass her driving test.

I love how the novel followed the lives of all three girls and was written in third person to make this a lot easier. I wasn’t expecting it so it was a nice surprise and I grew to love all three of them. They all had their individual personalities and they all felt separate from each other: one of the things I was most worried about was whether I would be able to distinguish a difference between the three.

May was very much the character we saw the most out of the three. She is the middle sister, but she’s the one holding the fragile pieces of her family together. Their mother works nights and May has to work to bring some income into the family, both her other sisters being busy with softball practice. I loved reading about her relationship with Pete as it grew because it turned out to be so cute and sweet. I love relationships that come from nowhere and then blossom.

I could understand Brooks so well. Okay, so maybe not the whole drinking and going off the rails part, but I know how grief can change you and how you may want to feel different or act out. For me, when dealing with grief, I went into my little shell and didn’t want to come out. For Brooks, it was the complete opposite. Throughout her acting out, I still felt like we got to know the real her and Johnson has written her character so well and so deeply.

I had a really big soft spot for Palmer. She was kind of ignored by everyone and I just wanted to give her a big hug. Of the three sisters, I felt like Palmer matured the most throughout the book and I loved the few chapters towards the end of the book when we really saw her merge from her shell and do something out of character. I want her to be my sister!

There’s not one main plot you can pinpoint throughout the book but instead it mainly deals with the Gold family dealing with the unexpected death. There are lots of different, smaller plots though and there aren’t any bored moments where you can’t be bothered to read anymore because nothing is going on.

I loved the normality of The Key to the Golden Firebird and how I could imagine myself as anyone of the characters and feel very happy. Johnson deals with the subject of death in an emotional but realistic way, whilst creating a world I want to be a part of.

Storm and Stone
Storm and Stone
by Joss Stirling
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'Storm and Stone is a book that you’ll just love.', 16 Feb 2014
This review is from: Storm and Stone (Paperback)
There was so much riding on my enjoyment of this book because I loved Stirling’s Savant books before I started blogging. Whenever I pick up a book by an author I read previous books from before blogging, I always feel like there’s more pressure to enjoy it, and I’m always more nervous. I really enjoyed Storm and Stone though, so I didn’t need to worry too much.

When Raven Stone returns to her select boarding school after the holidays, she comes back to find that everything has changed. Suddenly nobody treats her same and instead she is shunned. Not only that, but her friend is missing, too. And what about the two new students who seem to have come in the wake of the affair? Raven is rapidly becoming involved in something unlike anything she’s seen before…

As I said above, I did enjoy Storm and Stone but there was just something missing that stopped it from being drop-dead amazing like Stirling’s Savant books were to me. I think the fact that I had heard that this was another Savant book swayed my happiness levels and I kept waiting for some mention of the Savant powers to be dropped, but alas no mentions turned up. I quickly got over it when I realised that it wasn’t a Savant book and I then sank into the story easier.

Although it wasn’t a Savant book, it still included everything I loved about Stirling’s previous books and I raced through it. There’s something about the books that make me want to grab hold of them and give them a massive hug – they have a feel to them that you don’t often find.

I felt so sorry for Raven because the situation she was in wasn’t just your typical bullying. As the plot unfolds, we learn darker things about why Raven is being targeted and it really is quite sinister. When Raven gets to know the two new boys things start getting crazier and suddenly she’s caught up in something unlike anything she’s ever experienced before. Raven was a pretty kickass girl and, particularly towards the end of the novel, we really see her shine. I think she’s an inspiration to anyone who has been bullied or is being because the way she dealt with things was handled well.

Storm and Stone is a book that you’ll just love (I know because I’m psychic), and, although nothing will ever beat the Savant books, I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely be telling everyone about it. Despite having a few issues with some of it, it’s a book that I’m looking forward to re-reading in the future.

This Song Will Save Your Life
This Song Will Save Your Life
by Leila Sales
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.95

4.0 out of 5 stars 'It’s a truly beautiful book that will blow you away.', 16 Feb 2014
Lately I’ve been going through an unconscious phase. For some reason I’ve been reading a lot of music related books and This Song Will Save Your Life was one of those books. I don’t think I have an expert ear when it comes to music but I have some knowledge and one of the things I loved about this novel was that it was so informative without you realising until afterwards. It’s a book that definitely deserves the hype it’s getting.

Elise Dembowski is one of those people who have never fitted in. She sets out, over the summer, to ‘popularise’ herself, but when she turns up at school for the new year nothing has changed. She’s still the social outcast and she realises she’ll always be the same. So she makes a big decision and walks the many miles home and plans to take her own life. Skip forward a few months and Elise is walking at night when she stumbles across two girls who lead her to a nightclub. It’s only there for one night a week and it could offer her the chance to finally be accepted.

I really liked Elise and grew to like her even more as the book progressed. She was quite a complex character but it was easy to slip into her head and understand her. Sales has written her in such a way that you feel as if you are her and I enjoyed it more because of that.

Vicky was by far my favourite character. I just wanted to give her a massive hug and she was so accepting of Elise. Do you know how sometimes you crave a companion novel to a book? I would love to read a book entirely about Vicky. She was so awesome!

One of the main things I loved about This Song Will Save Your Life was its originality. I don’t think I’ve ever read a similar book before that contained so many different elements. Although music is a large theme, there was so much more going on in the background.

The musical element felt so natural and to hear that Sales is not a DJ herself really surprised me. For someone like myself who knows nothing about it, I was eased right into DJ’ing and didn’t struggle to understand it at all.

I really think you should all pick up a copy of This Song Will Save Your Life because you won’t regret it. It’s a truly beautiful book that will blow you away.

Boys Don't Knit
Boys Don't Knit
by T. S. Easton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars 'There wasn’t a moment throughout when I wasn’t completely hooked.', 16 Feb 2014
This review is from: Boys Don't Knit (Paperback)
I don’t think you can go wrong with a book that makes you laugh. The thing is, though, Boys Don’t Knit didn’t just make me laugh. It made me ROAR with laughter, so much so that my shoulders shook. I haven’t read such a hilarious book in a long time.

After an unfortunate incident involving a lollipop lady and a bike, Ben Fletcher is on probation. This means that he has to choose a course to attend at the local college as part of his rehabilitation. So, believing the gorgeous teacher from school is taking the class, Ben starts knitting. Hilarity ensues as Ben tries to hide his new hobby from his family, his friends, and also has many other problems at him.

I think the thing I liked most about this book is that, although it may seem like it’s only for boys, anyone, of any age or gender, will enjoy it. The protagonist, Ben, is someone you can’t help but warm to, and he wasn’t your stereotypical teenager. There was a lot more depth to him and Easton has really captured that. As a teenager myself, I’m often frustrated by unrealistic portrayals of teenagers so Boys Don’t Knit was a very refreshing read.

There was so much packed into this novel. There wasn’t a moment throughout when I wasn’t completely hooked and I want to read more books like it now because I feel like there aren’t enough books like this that I’ve read.

Although I’m absolutely hopeless at knitting, I felt myself learning through Ben’s eyes and I still managed to connect to the story even though it was new territory to me. I think this is an incredible skill to achieve on the author’s part and I just know other people will enjoy it too.

The contrast between Ben and his friends really intrigued me. They were very different characters and, whilst they had fallings out, were still loyal to each other. Through each of them, we got a very good picture of teenage life, and I enjoyed that we got to see how everyone differs. I think it’s something that can be forgotten by quite a few people sometimes.

I cannot wait for the sequel to Boys Don’t Knit because I know it won’t disappoint. I’ll definitely be re-reading this if I’m feeling a bit down or want to read something that will have me chuckling because this book put a massive grin on my face.

Leopold Blue
Leopold Blue
by Rosie Rowell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars 'I felt, throughout reading, as if I was witnessing such significance.', 16 Feb 2014
This review is from: Leopold Blue (Paperback)
You may know by now that I’ll read practically anything Hot Key Books publish. So when Leopold Blue was offered to me to review, I jumped at the chance. Once again, I wasn’t let down. They really are a miracle publisher.

We all know how confusing it can be growing up, and Leopold Blue is a story all about discovery. One of the most striking things about the novel is its beautiful writing and voice. The protagonist, Meg, doesn’t have any friends due to the fact that her mother educates farm workers about AIDS. Set in 1990’s South Africa, the racial and political turmoil in the country during this time is informative without seeming too ‘know it all’ and there’s so much to take out of this book, especially historical information.

As a teenager myself, I know the feelings of wanting to fit in and find friends. When Meg meets Xanthe, the new girl who befriends Meg, we see the changes Meg makes to herself to try to fit in. I loved how authentic Meg’s voice was. There wasn’t a moment when I didn’t believe in the words coming out of her mouth.

Because it is set in such an important part in South Africa’s history, I felt, throughout reading, as if I was witnessing such significance. Even if you’re not familiar with the time, if you’re a younger reader like myself, all questions are answered immediately.

An addition I liked was the footnotes, explaining the language and cultural terms. I know I can sometimes find it tricky to understand such differences between cultures in some books, so it was nice to have an explanation and it also offered a very nice insight. I really enjoy learning about different cultures and I felt like it helped me connect to the story even more.

I feel as if there wasn’t a lot going on in terms of a strong plot because Leopold Blue is very character driven. Understand that I do not mean this in a bad way at all. Sometimes a good character driven novel is just what you need. With high fantasy and dystopia novels so big at the moment, a change is so, so good.

I really enjoyed Leopold Blue. It was a refreshing read and one I will definitely be recommending. You all must read it!

The Library of Unrequited Love
The Library of Unrequited Love
by Sophie Divry
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'There are many passages throughout the book I wanted to highlight and scribble over.', 16 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
After it popping up quite a lot and being rather intrigued, I decided to buy The Library of Unrequited Love by Sophie Divry. Being around ninety pages, it’s an incredibly quick read, and I managed to zoom through it one morning.

The Library of Unrequited Love tells the story of a French librarian who opens her section of the library one morning to find someone who has been locked in overnight. Written in second person perspective to this person, the narrator discusses her love of books, her problems with the library system, and shares her attraction to one library visitor in particular.

The Library of Unrequited Love is, of course, a book that will be loved by book lovers. There are many passages throughout the book I wanted to highlight and scribble over but it would probably pain me to do so because I hate to treat books in such a way. Even though the narrator isn’t in her dream section of the library, her passion for books really shines through. It’s one of the things I loved most about the book, and really stood out.

Something striking about our narrator is her bitterness. It was nice to read about a character who had such strong opinions about things as this really helped connect reader and narrator. This connection was very important, as there are a few gaps in the reader’s knowledge of our narrator, her name being one of those things. I think this worked in the books favour though, so it’s not a bad thing. It’s what makes the book so unique.

I’m not sure why I only rated the book three stars. The rating is not a true reflection of my feelings towards the books, because I could have given it five stars. There was just something stopping me from giving it five, or even four, stars. Rating does not equal enjoyment, though, so please remember this.

For such a short book, there was so much emotion and feeling packed in. It’s not a book I’m going to forget in a hurry. The length of the book was something I particularly liked. It wouldn’t be the same if it were drawn out for hundreds of pages.

And, another thing I liked reading about, was the French culture. As the book has been translated from French to English, I think the culture was shown more than if it had been written in English and not been translated. In the past, I haven’t enjoyed books that have been translated so I was pleased to see how well this was translated.

I really think you should all read The Library of Unrequited Love. It won’t take you long and is a lovely book to curl up with on long, winter nights.

The Elites
The Elites
by Natasha Ngan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars 'A refreshing dystopian read and one I will definitely be recommending.', 14 Sep 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Elites (Paperback)
The Elites is definitely one of my most anticipated reads of the year and so I was extremely nervous to start it. My Twitter profile picture was of the cover, I had told whoever would listen about it and the finished copy was pre-ordered months ago. It's safe to say that a lot was riding on my enjoyment of this novel.

The Elites are a race of people with superior DNA that means they can't bleed. When an Elite, Silver, is witness to, and fails to stop, the assassination of the president of Neo-Babel, a chain of events causes her to flee the city with her best friend, Butterfly, and find out what's on the outside. Secrets will come to the surface and Silver and Butterfly will discover things they never knew about themselves.

I know that people will love The Elites. It has interesting characters, a gripping plot line and some terribly sweet moments. One of the things that set this apart from other novels is its culturally diverse characters. Neo-Babel is supposedly the last place left in the world and so you see people flock there from all parts of the world. The thing that surprised me most was that the people still encountered racial abuse and discrimination, even though they lived in such close proximity to each other and were stuck that way. There was still a, although slightly deformed, class system and it made me think about how people don't really change. You can take the person out of a place but it's not going to change anything about them.

The Elites is written in third person which means we got to know a range of different characters throughout the novel. I liked how everything came together cleanly and the conclusion was wrapped up nicely.

I really liked our two main characters, Silver and Butterfly. The latter had a lot of background and very strong characterisation. It's not often that you see a male lead with a personality that shines brighter than the rest because there's a lot of focus on female YA characters, but Butterfly stood out and I loved that he had a vulnerable side that felt natural and not forced.

I really enjoyed The Elites and cannot wait to see more from Ngan. It was a refreshing dystopian read and one I will definitely be recommending.

The Soterion Mission
The Soterion Mission
Price: £4.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'Ross has created a vivid and imaginative world', 9 Aug 2013
I think that The Soterion Mission is a book that teens and pre-teens will gobble up. Ross has created a vivid and imaginative world that I know people will find believable and realistic.

A hundred or so years in the future, no one over the age of nineteen survives. Caused by a worldwide epidemic, by the time someone reaches the age of nineteen, they rapidly age in the space of a few weeks. This means that all knowledge before 2019 has disappeared and life has turned back to what it would have been like in medieval times.

When Roxanne turns up at Della Tallis, the home of a group of tribal people, Cyrus, Navid and Taja's lives are thrust into danger, for they are about to embark on a journey that could help the fate of millions of people. They are looking for their peoples past, and the cure.

The Soterion Mission was told in a much unbiased viewpoint. Getting both the Constants- those tribes who follow the values of the people before them- and the Zeds- the brutal tribes who revel in other people's pain- perspectives across really added something to the story line, and made it a lot easier to follow.

There were a lot of very humorous parts in The Soterion Mission, including a hilarious use of the IKEA catalogue. Mixed with the many sober moments, this created a nice contrast. The ability to swap between the two was something that greatly impressed me, as this is very hard to do.

The one thing that let me down with this book was the characterisation. Although I grew to like the characters, I didn't become invested enough in them and felt that because of this their subsequent deaths had no impact on me. Yes, I liked Cyrus, Roxanne and the rest of them, but did I really care what happened to them? Not as much as I would have liked.

The opening chapter will instantly grip the reader and really sets the scene for the rest of the book. The Soterion Mission is an action-packed and convincing novel, and I'm looking forward to seeing where the sequel takes us.

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