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D. Cotton "Voguedotcom" (England)

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A Witch in Love (The Winter Trilogy Book 2)
A Witch in Love (The Winter Trilogy Book 2)
Price: £3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A stunning sequel!, 17 Oct. 2013
It had been well over a year since I read A Witch in Winter, the first book in this trilogy, but I managed to drop back into the story with complete ease. I did, at first, find it a little difficult to remember everything that had happened, but as I read more, I was reminded of the story in the first book, and everything fell back into place really quickly. And the story in this second instalment drew me in straight away!

I can remember quite enjoying A Witch in Winter, but not being absolutely blown away by it - there were elements of the story that I didn't find as exciting as others - but the plot to A Witch in Love was much more intriguing and exciting, and I couldn't wait to read more and find out what was going on.
After a trip to London with Emmaline, the girls end up walking past Anna's old home, that she shared with her father, and where her mother had previously lived (though she doesn't remember her). There is strong magic surrounding the house, so the witches investigate, discovering a magical charm concealed beneath the steps to the house. This leads Anna on an adventure to find out more about her mother, and what might have happened to her. And why she might have planted a magical charm in the steps to their home, a charm that suppressed Anna's own magic for as long as she was living there.
I loved where Anna's discoveries took her, and it was also good to learn more about the world of the witches. The lore in this trilogy is really interesting, and totally unlike any other witch books I've read in the past! There are still a load of questions that these discoveries posed that are left unanswered, so I'm desperate to read the final book and find the rest of the pieces to Anna's puzzle.
Then there's the danger of what is happening to Anna personally. It seems that someone (other than Seth) knows her secret, and is determined to frighten her, and then worse. This was a really interesting plot in the story, and I didn't expect what happened at all, which made the story even more exciting than before.

The first two thirds of the book had me intrigued, interested, and captivated, but the final third had me on the edge of my seat and reading faster than I ever have before! I had to find out what was going on, and what would happen next. I didn't imagine for a second, that things would get anywhere near as exciting and as dangerous as they did, but it was a welcome surprise. The end of the book, as well as being exciting, was seriously shocking, and I know I'm going to have to read the final book in the trilogy straight away, to find out how everything will be resolved. Without giving anything away, something happened close to the end that has left me very upset, and I'm seriously hoping that it will be made right by the end of book three - it can't be left like this!

After reading A Witch in Love, I can definitely say that I'm enjoying this trilogy more and more, and it's definitely something I would recommend to fans of YA fantasy, especially if you love your fantasy to feature strong magic, but in a world that feels real. Ruth Warburton seems to get better with each book she does, so I have high hopes for the final book in this trilogy.

Original review found on my blog, Pen to Paper ([...]

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
by Rachel Cohn
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A quick, entertaining and witty read, 25 Sept. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book has lingered near the top of my to-read pile for close to a year now, but I took my time in making the leap to actually picking it up. I don't know why, especially after I read and enjoyed Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by the same authors, earlier this year. It's a short read and sounded exactly like the kind of story I really enjoy. But all that matters not is that I have finally picked it up and read it. I'm so glad I did.

Seeing as it's so short (just shy of 200 pages), I read it in less than 24 hours, but I think, even if it had been longer, I would have read it just as fast.
The first chapter was pretty good, introducing the reader to Nick, but I wouldn't say that I really got pulled into the story until the end of the second chapter, when I had not only seen things through Nick's perspective for the first time, but also Norah's. It was immediately clear that the two characters were pretty similar to one another (both in personality and predicament), an I knew that the chemistry between them would not take long to show.
Both are music-obsessed; Nick is the bassist and only straight member of a 'queercore' band, and Norah, who is in the crowd at their gig at the beginning of the novel, happens to be the daughter of a rich and influential music producer. As a result, both characters talk about music a lot - sometimes I understood what and who they were on about, and sometimes I didn't (my musical knowledge does not extend very far) - but I found that, either way, my enjoyment of the book was not too badly affected. I think if I had greater knowledge of the music that was being discussed I may have gotten a little more out of the book, but I don't think, overall, that it made much difference at all. I mention this because, having spoken to other readers who are yet to read this book, this seemed to be a fairly large concern, but I'm here to say that even if, like me, you have a limited knowledge of all things musical, it's still more than possible to seriously enjoy this book.

As I said, I didn't think it would be too long until the chemistry between Nick and Norah began to show, and I was right on two counts. Neither character initially knows it, but the physical attraction is mutual from the first hasty kiss that begins their packed and unforgettable night together that spans the length of the novel. But it wasn't just a physical attraction that showed (initially from the characters' thoughts in their individual chapters), but also an intellectual, deeper attraction, that became increasingly obvious as the two of them talked and began to get to know each other. In fact, I would say that this attraction, for Norah, began almost as soon as she realised who he was, through mix tapes and song lyrics he'd created for his ex-girlfriend, Tris, who happens to be a kind-of0but-not-quite friend of Norah's.
I never quite got tot he point of feeling frustrated by the constant ups and downs of Nick and Norah's fledgling relationship because I was so utterly convinced that things were going to work out between them, so I decided to sit back and enjoy the ride, and enjoy it I did. The conversations between them were witty, humorous, sometimes profound and deep, and the situations they got in together were intense, and often laugh-out-loud hilarious (particularly towards the end - you'll know what I mean, if you've read it, or decide to). I enjoyed every moment of their rollercoaster relationship.

Aside from Nick and Norah, there was another character that I really feel I should mention. Obviously there are other characters in the book beside our leading couple, but most of them took a back seat, in my opinion. Apart from one; Nick's ex, Tris.
She starts out being an almost-antagonist, 'evil-ex' kind of figure - even Norah seemed to dislike her, and I was inclined to agree, from what I'd already seen through Nick's eyes. But as is sometimes the case, the male had misunderstood pretty much everything, and the female had purposefully confused. As the novel goes on, Tris' role in it evolves, and her final appearance really surprised me. It totally changed my opinion of her, and made her a much more interesting character.

The only reason I have not given Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist the full five star rating is because it did not have the unforgettable 'wow-factor', but I did really, really enjoy it. It was infinitely entertaining, witty, funny and compelling. The characters are intelligent, well-developed and loveable, and the prose is absorbing, clever and in places, beautiful.
This is a wonderful read, especially if what you're looking for is a quick, fun and uplifting story. I highly recommend it.

Originally written for my blog, Pen to Paper ([...])

The Boys of Summer (The Summer Series Book 1)
The Boys of Summer (The Summer Series Book 1)
Price: £0.00

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A real breath of fresh air!, 15 April 2013
I first heard about this book when a blogger friend of mine reviewed it, and rated it pretty highly. The first thing that grabbed me about the book was the cover - but not just because it's so pretty - because it also looked like just the kind of book I needed to read at the time. Reading the synopsis confirmed that. When I finally started reading it, I knew I'd made the right decision.

I fell in love with this story from the very first chapter - the writing is warm, friendly and easy to read, and it drew me immediately into Tess' story. However, what really made this love at first read were the characters - Tess and her two best friends, Ellie and Adam.
They all came across as instantly real and loveable, and I couldn't help but want to hang out with them - luckily, by reading the book, that's exactly what I got to do!
I really enjoyed the friendship that the three of them had - their personalities seemed both to fit and balance each other out nicely. Adam definitely made me laugh, but he's not just the joker of the trio, as he proved with a certain locker-related revenge stunt he pulled, defending Tess. Ellie was equally supportive, and it really warmed my heart to see three teens who would do so much for one another.

Of course, the friendship between Tess, Ellie and Adam is all very well and good, but what I also wanted and couldn't wait for, was the arrival of the infamous Onslow boys! Fortunately, I didn't have long to wait!
They are a lot older than the trio of friends we've already met, being in their early twenties, but the two groups get on brilliantly straight away, and they almost become one big group. Almost, but not quite. There were always going to be a few bumps in the road, and one of them is Angela Vickers, the not-so-pleasant girlfriend of Toby Morrison, the Onslow boy that Tess can't tear her eyes away from. Could it be possible that, despite the beautiful girlfriend, Toby feels the same way about Tess? Does it matter, when there's a girlfriend in the picture? I hoped all the way through that something would happen so that Tess and Toby could get closer. The chemistry between the two of them throughout the book was intoxicating, especially when certain creases had been ironed out, and I honestly couldn't help but feel the same nervous butterflies that Tess did every time they were together.

I really enjoyed the way that Tess' character evolved because of Toby and the Onslow boys. She started off as quite a shy character, not wanting to draw attention to herself, happy to let her friends be the bright lights beside her, and describing herself as a wallflower. She was quite content with that. But once she, Ellie and Adam get a job at the Onslow hotel for the summer, and they meet the Onslow boys, (after some gentle persuasion from Ellie) Tess started to come out of her shell, which was awesome to see. Obviously change wasn't going to come without its drama, but this made things more interesting, and Tess just grew all the more because of this drama.
I don't want to give any more away about the character relationships, though, because the twists and turns that they take are what makes this book so good!

I found the setting for the story particularly interesting - not just because it's set in Australia (a place that I don't often read about) - but also because it's set during the 1990s. I thought having a contemporary romance set twenty years ago was a really interesting idea, but I'm not quite so sure that it's one I fully understand the motive behind. There didn't seem to be much point to this, and I think the story would have remained essentially the same had it been set now.
I suppose it was interesting imagining the story set during the decade in which I was born and grew up, though, and it was definitely a choice that makes the novel unique.

Overall I really enjoyed this novel - it had everything a YA contemporary romance needs; a well-rounded, loveable group of characters (with a couple of exceptions, to provide conflict and drama), a beautiful, summery setting, a smoking-hot group of boys and some seriously steamy chemistry!
It was the breath of fresh air that I needed.
If you're a fan of YA contemporary, or romance, you definitely need to pick this up - it'll have you laughing and blushing all at once, and it'll definitely warm your heart!
A fabulous and fun read, perfect for the coming summer months!

Taken from my blog: [...]

Hostage Three
Hostage Three
by Nick Lake
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.11

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A unique and powerful read!, 5 Jan. 2013
This review is from: Hostage Three (Hardcover)
The first thing I shall say about this novel is that it is not the type of book that would usually attract me - had I not received it for review from Bloomsbury, I most likely would never have picked it up at all. I'm telling you this because I want my review to really stand out to you because of this - I had not expected to like it much, but I was in for a very pleasant surprise.

The opening chapter of the book could not have done a better job of grabbing my attention by the collar and dragging me into the story. Rather than starting at the beginning of the story, it begins with a scene from closer to the end of the book. We're immediately right there, on deck, with a group of apparently fierce, gun-wielding Somali pirates, not really knowing what to make of the chaos that is unfolding before our eyes, but the sense of extreme danger is definitely there - and for me, that pump of adrenaline that you get from that, goes hand-in-hand with a really good thriller. This definitely got the adrenaline pumping!
About a third of the way down the first page we have the line: "There is a gun pointing right at my head". You won't find many sentences that are more charged than that! It was definitely this sentence that originally grabbed me, and by the end of that first chapter, I was totally hooked. It stayed that way for the rest of the book.

After the initial exciting first chapter, the story rewinds three and a half months, and we find ourselves in London, getting to know the main character, Amy (the girl on the boat with the gun pointed at her head), and the kind of life she leads. At first, I really didn't like her character. That's not because she was unrealistic, but because she was the opposite of that - she was a spoilt, rich teenager, who always had to be at the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons. She did stupid things - stupid things that would seriously damage her future - just to annoy her Dad and get some kind of reaction out of him. She was immature, spoilt, and attention-seeking, but I did understand why she did of all this, with the kind of Dad that she has and with all that we find out she's been through. It didn't make me like her any more at that point, but it did make her feel like a real person, so this wasn't really a problem. I also knew from reading the first chapter, that her character was going to go through a drastic change over the next couple of hundred pages.
I was definitely right about this - once the pirates have captured the boat and taken Amy, her family and the crew hostage, she soon begins to change not only the way she acts (necessary for everyone's survival), but also the way she thinks. By the end of the book, I not only liked her character, but I also felt as though I fully understood and respected her. She'd come a long way from the spoilt brat that she started out being.

What I really loved about the story, and what I think made sure I never got bored, or lose interest, after that great opening chapter, was the fact that it didn't stand still for very long - yes, we went back three and half months, to before they even had the yacht - but it wasn't very long before they were on the water, and then soon after that, the pirates arrived. The story didn't hang around with any unnecessary events, and even though it did move very quickly to get to the main part of the story, it didn't feel as though it was being rushed towards these events either. It felt very natural and real.
There was always something going on, and even though for the majority of the book, they were just on the boat as captives (and it would've been so easy for things to become monotonous), something was always happening to put the characters in danger, and that kept the book really exciting.
There's also the case of the unlikely romance on board the ship. This was something that I definitely hadn't expected from the book, so when feelings started to develop between Amy and one of the Somali pirates, things got really complicated, and even more interesting. There was a danger with this that the romance would be so far-fetched, that the relationship wouldn't seem real, and then it would be out of place - but that's not how it turned out at all. Like Amy's character, Farouz (the love interest) seemed real as well, and the way they went about their relationship, in their difficult situations also seemed very realistic to me. At no point did I think "well, that just wouldn't happen". I really wanted things to work out for them, but I knew that things were never going to be straightforward.

The pirates themselves really interested me. When we think of pirates, we think bloodthirsty, selfish, violent, uneducated etc, but these pirates had a definite lack of respect for expectations. They too seemed like real people. They had lives back home, families, their own problems - they were just normal people who had had some bad luck in their lives, and who had turned to piracy out of necessity, rather than by choice (for the most part, anyway). I really enjoyed getting to know them all as characters, and as disgusting and terrible as they could sometimes be, I did actually get to like some of them!

So although Hostage Three isn't the kind of book that I usually go for, I ended up loving every moment of it. It was a unique, powerful, brave and beautiful story, and it's certainly one that I will never forget! I highly recommend it!

This review was taken from my blog at [...].

The Resistance (Declaration)
The Resistance (Declaration)
by Gemma Malley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Even more exciting than the first book!, 6 Dec. 2012
After finishing the first book in this trilogy, The Declaration, I was so in love with the story, so gripped by it, that I had to start this second book straight away! The Resistance starts pretty much where The Declaration left off, and we quickly become introduced to Anna, Peter and Ben's new life together as 'legals' on 'the outside'.
What first struck me about this, compared to the previous book, was the shift in perspective; whereas the trilogy had started off almost entirely from Anna's point of view (breaking off only briefly to focus on other characters, such as Mrs Pincent, the House Matron in the surplus hall), this book is much more focused on Peter, and mostly told from his perspective. It does switch between characters a lot more, because of the different sub-plots that meander through the book, so we do still occasionally see Anna on her own. We also have a new character, Jude, who is introduced fairly early on, and whose point of view we see pretty often, as his story begins to merge with Peter's. However, the story is still certainly centred around Peter and what is happening to him (the other characters' separate stories all come together at the end, and all have an effect on what happens with Peter).

I really enjoyed this shift, because although we do get to know and love Peter throughout The Declaration, it is Anna who we sympathise with more, and it's really Anna's story. It was good to get to know Peter more intimately, and to see him overcome such enormous problems made me love him even more than before.
I also really enjoyed seeing Peter's character struggle with his own, personal conflict. He's such an independent thinker, that he began to doubt and question the motives of all of those around him, even the one person who has always been there, throughout his entire life. To me, this showed a great amount of intelligence, and to overcome it definitely took huge amounts of courage, so I felt like his character had grown and developed a lot more by the end of the book.
This is the same with Anna. Even though we see her less than in the previous book, it's obvious how much she has evolved since we last saw her. Despite having been incarcerated in a surplus hall for almost her entire life, she has learnt to start thinking independently, begins to question things and form her own opinions and goals in life. It was brilliant to see Anna and Peter becoming more like a family as well - despite the difficulties they both faced, both on their own, and together. It was awesome to see them come out of it all stronger than before, and much more sure of themselves and what they wanted. They're a seriously enviable couple!

Not only did I enjoy how much the characters had grown, I also loved how the story developed as it went along. Obviously I don't want to say too much about this, for fear of giving anything away, but I can say that the story held even more excitement for me, than in the first book (which I didn't think would be possible). The Declaration builds the dystopian world for us, and kick-starts Anna's story, but what the story really is, is Anna's journey, as she and Peter leave Grange Hall behind, ready to fight against 'the Authorities'. We don't really get to see much of the world outside of the surplus halls.
It should be fairly obvious from the title of this one though, what this story follows! We get to see much more action than before, and learn more about 'the Underground', and their plans to remove Richard Pincent, owner of the Longevity drugs, from power, and restore humanity to a 'natural' state. By the end of the book, the revolution is getting into full swing, and I was on the edge of my seat with excitement!
I adored where the story went, and loved the shocking twists and turns that the plot took along the way. I didn't see any of it coming, and I was utterly captivated by every single page.

There are many things that I'm looking forward to in the final book of the trilogy; obviously I can't wait to see how it ends, and how everything is resolved, but I also can't wait to see what happens with Anna and Peter, and their current, rather exciting 'situation' (though I shall say no more about that - you'll just have to read it and find out what it is for yourself. Trust me, it's good!), and I also want to see more of Jude, discover more about him, get to know him better (because a couple of the things he did, I wasn't expecting from his character at all), and see what he does next. He's certainly an interesting personality!

I really enjoyed The Declaration, but I loved this a hundred times more. As when I finished the first book, I'm going to have to start the final instalment straight away.
This is a seriously addictive trilogy, and one I highly recommend!

Taken from my blog review at [...]

A Monster Calls (non illustrated)
A Monster Calls (non illustrated)
by Patrick Ness
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A beautifully emotional read!, 4 Dec. 2012
I have to admit that, when I decided to pick this book up to read, I didn't quite know what to expect from it - I'd just been told that it was a good read, and that I should try it. What the book ended up being was far from whatever I had expected, though, but this was definitely in a good way!
My first impression of it was that it looked quite different from anything else I'd come across - physically. It's beautifully illustrated by Jim Kay, who definitely captured the book's essence in the images. In particular, the images that fill an entire two pages on their own are stunning - they're both really emotive, but at the same time, really atmospheric and gritty, which definitely captures the feel of the story. I know that we shouldn't judge a book by illustrations, but in this case, I think they are the cherry on top of the cake, and what perfects this unique story.

As for the story, as I've already said, it absolutely wasn't what I expected from it. I had originally not known too much about the book, other than that I'd been told I should read it. I actually picked it up as my Halloween read for this year, but as those that have read it will know, it doesn't turn out to be that kind of book at all. Far from it, in fact.
It starts off as I had expected it to, with a young boy, Conor, awaking from a nightmare, to find a real, live monster standing in his garden, speaking to him. The monster is enormous and grotesque, as you'd expect it to be, being a creature straight out of a nightmare. We soon realise though, that this is not going to be a 'conventional' relationship between monster and boy. We expect Conor to be terrified of the monster that dwarfs his house, but he's not, which is really interesting to me. I immediately wondered what could possibly have happened to this boy, to make him so unafraid of something that I would be terrified of.
The first line just adds to this; "The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do." Although this isn't technically Conor speaking, I immediately picked up on the fact that he wasn't concerned about the monster's presence, so I was already asking questions, and because of this, I was immediately gripped.
The monster's character was something that intrigued me, because although Conor sees him, no one else seems to, so we're not really sure if he's just a part of Conor, or if he's really there. Sometimes it seems as though he's just an imagination - something there for Conor to talk to - but then other times, like when he finds his room covered in pine needles, it seems that the monster is real. I loved the mystery of this.
Another reason that the monster was so interesting was because I expected it to be a violent, cruel creature, but it turned out to be quite different to this. Even if the rest of the story hadn't been amazing, I would have wanted to read until the end, to find out what exactly the monster was, and why he was there.

The first chapter was really the only one that matched my expectations of the book - after that it changed into something totally unexpected, but equally as welcomed. It wasn't frightening (in a 'horror' kind of way, anyway), mostly, I think, because of Conor's attitude towards the monster. He still didn't view it as a threat, because it 'wasn't as bad as the nightmare'. But in another sense it was frightening, but in much more of a 'real' way than you'd expect. I thought it was going to be the monster that would be the frightening thing, but it was Conor's own situation, and the inevitability of what it turned out he was facing, that was the scariest thing, and what made it worse is that it's a fear that each and every one of us faces. That's all I can say about that, though.
However, this was not what made the book so special for me. What made it so special was how emotionally moving it turned out to be, by the end. I think the final 30 pages were the most emotional that I've read in quite a while - I cried all the way through this final part, which is something I hadn't thought I'd do at all, when I first picked the book up. I think the fact that it did move me to tears, perfectly illustrates just how incredible this book is, and how easily you can become emotionally attached to Conor, his story, and the characters around him.

I also loved the style in which the story was told. It felt almost like a children's fairy tale to me (almost, but somehow not quite), especially when the monster begins to tell Conor the three stories of past people who have made him 'come walking'. These stories have morals to them, as a fairy tale does (albeit not quite straight forward morals), and the monster believes that these will help Conor learn what it is that he needs. It also tells him that by the end, Conor will tell his story - the story of his nightmare - and therefore his 'truth'. This isn't revealed until the very end, and is definitely a part of what makes the ending so emotional!
I was drawn into the story immediately, and remained utterly gripped by it all the way through.

I would definitely say that A Monster Calls is one of the books that everyone needs to pick up and read. I saw a quote from a review by the Independent Newspaper, which said that the book is "brave and beautiful", and this is something that I wholeheartedly agree with. It's definitely like no other book I've ever encountered, and I absolutely adored it!

Taken from my review on my blog ([...])

What I Didn't Say
What I Didn't Say
Price: £2.35

4.0 out of 5 stars A great new YA contemporary, from a great author!, 21 Sept. 2012
This review is from: What I Didn't Say (Kindle Edition)
Having read the first in Keary's Fall of Angels series, Branded, and having rated it 4 stars, I had a pretty good feeling that I would end up enjoying this one too, despite the huge change in genre. Thankfully, I wasn't wrong.

When I started reading this, I'll admit that I was a little concerned, to begin with, that it wouldn't be quite what I was hoping it would be. I didn't get any kind of immediate connection to the main character, Jake (or any of the other characters, for that matter), and the story, although mildly interesting, wasn't as gripping as I thought it would be.
I also felt that some of the chapters were a bit odd. Some of them were very short, and it wasn't initially in chronological order (which usually wouldn't be a problem, but it felt a little bit fragmented in this). It jumped from the 'present' story, to a few months before the accident, and back again, and it just didn't quite feel like a 'natural' transition, to begin with. Once I got into the book though, I started to appreciate these 'past' scenes more - they really accentuated how much Jake's life and personality was changing, after his accident.
Eventually though, the chapters did follow on from each other, and this was no longer a problem anyway.

As I've already said, I did not initially connect with Jake's character, which was a bit of a problem, seeing as the book is told from his point of view. However, after his accident (as mean as this might sound), I began to like him more and more. Of course, there were moments of self-pity etc, but this didn't last long. I really admired that, instead of taking the easy way out, and just giving up, he decided to push himself, and do his best to make his situation into the best that it could possibly be, and just generally try to carry on with life as normally as possible.
This would obviously be a difficult thing for anyone who had suffered a traumatic event, but even more so for someone in Jake's position, so this is where my respect for his character really started to grow.
By the end of the book, I adored him. I love character development, and Jake had it in spades! He became so much more mature, and despite his own predicaments, he was determined to be there for Sam, the girl he loves, and for the rest of his family and friends.
Sam and Jake's relationship is definitely worth mentioning as well - it was such a beautiful one! I had wondered how they were going to make things work, with Jake being unable to speak, and Sam not only being unable to say those three little words that Jake wants to hear so badly, but she also harbours some secret troubles of her own.
Despite all of this, though, they are a wonderful couple, and I was cheering them on the whole way through!

The ending was also so beautiful that it genuinely gave me goosebumps and, as cliché as it may sound, bought more than just a single tear to my eyes. I will say nothing more on this, but if you decide to pick this one up (which I think you should), the ending is definitely worth it!

I was a little worried about how Keary was going to decide to write about Jake's condition. Mutism can be a fairly sensitive subject - as can many other disabilities - but then there is the issue of a lack of audible dialogue with the rest of the characters. They weren't all going to learn sign language in a fortnight, after all!
I thought that Keary dealt with all of this extremely well, though, and despite my worries, the book worked really well.

Although it took me a little while to get into the book, I ended up adoring it. The characters were incredibly well-written and, quite honestly, adorable, especially Jake, and it was easy to see all of them grow, as the story went on. And what a story! It was a brave subject to choose to write about, in my opinion, and presented plenty of problems (both to Keary, and to the characters in the book), but she dealt with it, with apparent ease.

Another great read, from a truly great author! I definitely recommend this to fans of YA contemporary fiction - especially if you love a good 'love conquers all' kind of story.

This review was taken from my blog: [...]

While He Was Away
While He Was Away
by Karen Schreck
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting, but still a good read, 9 Sept. 2012
This review is from: While He Was Away (Paperback)
(From my blog review on [...])

I started this book with particularly high expectations, and this was for two reasons; 1) I'm really enjoying YA contemporary at the moment, and this looked great, and 2) it had been particularly highly rated by another blogger, whose opinion I highly trust - Lea from LC's Adventures in Library Land - who rarely gives out 5 stars, but did so for this. Because of these two reasons, I was expecting something pretty darn good.
However, on this occasion, my expectations were not quite met. It's not that I disliked it - because I didn't - but it wasn't as amazing as I thought it would be, either.

Let's start with the romance. I really do think that the cover - however beautiful - is very deceptive. Yes, I know that you should never judge a book by its cover, but what the cover is supposed to do, is give you a feel for the book, and from this cover, I expected it to be very romantic. I expected to root for the couple, Penna and David, all the way through the book, and be praying for their love to hold out through their difficult circumstances.
I had expected to really care.
At the beginning, they were fine, and I had started to feel for them, but as the book went on, I found that this feeling slowly faded away, and that I'd started caring about other things in the book much more than the couple (which is supposed to be the main focus of the book).
Penna starts to concentrate on distracting herself with work, new friends, and family reunion, and it seems that, although she obviously did miss David, he was eventually no longer at the forefront of her mind.
I also want to say that (without giving away any spoilers), I was very disappointed with the ending, and with what eventually happened between the two of them. I shall say no more on that though - I wouldn't want to spoil anything.
Saying this, though, I did really enjoy reading about what Penna did end up focusing on - particularly when it came to her estranged Grandmother, Justine, who has a past that Penna finds she can relate to. I loved Penna's fascination with this past, and with a woman she'd never really known, and her thirst to know more about her Grandma was great. I'm really glad that this storyline became more prominent.

Don't get me wrong, I really did love Penna's character, in the end. She was kind, considerate, generous, mature (most of the time), and it was really great to watch her change and develop as the story went on (although I did find it a little strange that she called her Mom 'Linda'). But in the end, I stopped caring about her relationship with David, almost entirely.
This is possibly because we really didn't get to see much of David at all. He is obviously there at the beginning of the book, when we get to know Penna and David as a couple, but he leaves with the army very early on, and we don't see him 'in person', past this point. Aside from the odd short email, or phone call, we don't really know what he was doing, and we never really get to know him better for ourselves (rather than just what Penna says about him).
I'd be really interested to read David's side of the story - even as just a short story or something. I think it would give this book a little something extra, and would maybe change the way I feel about the romance.

The town that this book was set in, Kildeer, was really bought to life for me. It was so well described. I did feel as though, by the end of the book, I'd almost be able to find my way around, if you dropped me off there. I hope you understand what I mean, when I say that the setting was really solid and comfortable, and I almost felt at home there, by the time I'd finished reading.
This happened particularly with Red Earth, Penna's Mother's restaurant. For some reason, it just felt like a really happy, cosy place to be.
I think that the setting, for me, was probably the thing that I enjoyed most about the book.

Overall this book has not made a great deal of an impression on me, and I don't think it's going to be a particularly memorable one, but I did enjoy reading it, and I wanted to read to the end, to find out what happened.
So if you're a fan of YA contemporary fiction, I would still absolutely recommend giving it a go, and see what you think.
This is a nice, light, summery read, somewhere between 3 & 4 stars.

by A.C. Gaughen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible read!, 3 July 2012
This review is from: Scarlet (Paperback)
I had been ridiculously excited when I first heard about this book, but back then, I had thought that it was only being published in the US, and would not hit our British shores. So imagine how excited I was when I got an email from Bloomsbury, not only informing me that they would be publishing this in the UK in June 2012, but also asking me if I would like a review copy. YES, Bloomsbury, yes I would!
I used to love the story of Robin Hood and his band of merry men when I was young, so I was hoping that this book would be perfect for me, and it really did not disappoint me in any way.

I suppose I'll start with what stood out to me first, and continued to stand out the most, throughout the book; the way it's written. The writing is heavily stylised, but this works really well, especially as it's used to reflect how Scarlet speaks, and I could definitely 'hear' her character and voice come through. It made her character so much more defined, and it set the tone for the book so well. It just felt more real to me, than it would have done, had it been written in a style that was closer to something that we would consider to be more 'normal' prose. For me, this really sets it apart from most of the other books I read. It stands out - in a very good way.
I also loved the setting. The book is so richly described, that I could feel myself being transported into the little villages, such as Edwinstowe (where a lot of the book takes place), or into the forest (either the trees that Scarlet climbs, or the cave, where the band hides out). I could see myself there, walking through the market in Nottingham with them, or sitting in Tucks. It was so well described, that it felt incredibly real to me.

As for Scarlet's character, I loved her for most of the book. I say most because I did with she'd opened her eyes more, especially when it came to Rob's feelings for her - it was just so obvious that he cared about her, but she was so convinced that he wouldn't ever go for her, that she made herself blind to it. I'd also gotten her real identity figured out pretty early, even though she's fairly secretive about her previous life.
But other than that, she was a strong female character, with strong morals, unshakable independence (despite her part in Robin's band), and a great deal of strength. She was just so brave and intelligent, and I loved her.
I also adored the relationship that builds between Scarlet and Robin (despite her ignorance, as I've mentioned). The chemistry between them is thrilling, and it's given space to grow and develop, rather than just suddenly materializing and being shoved down your throat. They bounced off each other really well, even when there wasn't a romantic tension going on, and it was really entertaining to watch unfold. They're both just adorable!

If I'm honest, I knew the story of Robin Hood inside out, when I was young, but it's been a long time since I was fully familiar with it, and so I can't really say how close this was to the original, and so, how good it was as a retelling. I can tell you though, that it was an excellent story - it definitely stands on its own.
The plot absolutely never stood still - every page too it somewhere new and it was never boring, or slow, in any way. My only grievance with it, is the ending (as is the way with so many books). It's not that it was a particularly bad one - it just didn't feel entirely finished.
I had a look around on the internet, and it doesn't seem as though the author is planning to write a sequel to this book, but it feels to me, like it should have one. So much happens, and is revealed, at the end, but not resolved, that it feels as though the story has not really come to a proper ending yet. Plus, personally, I would love to see more from these characters, this story, and of course, more from this author!

I absolutely adored this book. It's a well-written, exciting and utterly compelling page-turner. I devoured it in only 24 hours - I just could not bring myself to put it down for longer than a few minutes (if at all!).
I seriously recommend that everyone give this book a go - it's definitely a memorable read.

If you like this review, I have more on my blog at [...]

Untouched (A Denazen Novella Book 1)
Untouched (A Denazen Novella Book 1)

5.0 out of 5 stars A great read to keep you going until Toxic!, 19 April 2012
I have been so excited to read more from this series for so long now - I LOVED Touch - and although this is a short read, it's definitely keeping me going for now... until I can get my hands on Toxic, anyway!

Kale is one of my absolute favourite YA heroes at the moment - he's tough, protective and loyal, but oh so naive, which makes him both cute and hilarious, all in one go! It's an interesting mixture, and it really does work with his character. He also complements Dez's character really well - they really do make the best couple!
I was so excited when I saw that this was going to be from Kale's point of view - he definitely deserves to be given narrative voice for a while.
It took a little while to get used to the story being told by him - having become so used to Dez's voice in Touch - but it worked really well, and we get to see more of his adorable thoughts when he's presented with something he doesn't understand - especially phrases - it's pretty hilarious!
And of course, we see his character struggle with some painful memories from the past, as an unwanted reminder shows up in the form of Samsen. But Kale, as always, manages to overcome this in his own way, without losing himself in the process - luckily Dez is always there to reassure him - they're so cute together!

As for the story, I really enjoyed the way it ran so seamlessly from Touch into this. At the end of Touch, we know that they are going around, finding more sixes, and warning them about the dangers of Denazen, so it was great to actually see them doing this, and then to get to know one of the new characters.
Kiernan is really great too - it sounds as though she still needs some convincing, but I'm looking forward to seeing how she'll get on in Toxic - which I'm assuming she will have a small part in, at least - I'm hoping.

There's not really too much else that I can say about it, without giving too much away - so what I will say is Kale Love!
If you love him, get this! You're going to love it!
And if you've not come across Jus' stuff before - where have you been living? Go out and get Touch - you will not be disappointed!

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