book review

Review: Forever Geek (Geek Girl 6) by Holly Smale

Forever Geek
Forever Geek by Holly Smale

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**This book was sent to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

I don’t think I’ve really reviewed the Geek Girl books before and we’re now at the sixth book, but this has something to do with the fact that I marathoned the last three books in one week and I haven’t got round to reviewing them!

If you’re not acquainted with the Geek Girl series, they’re super fun books following Harriet Manners, Geek turned Model, and her friends including her stalker Toby and her best friend and fashion designer, Nat. There’s also the sultry Nick, Harriet’s fairy godmother Wilbur and the formidable designer Yuka Ito.

One of the highlights of the series (and this book) is Harriet’s family – they’re all great well-rounded characters and they’re so fun! It’s great to see them all return for the final book and Harriet gets some more time with Bunty, her step-grandmother, which is much appreciated.

This really was the perfect wrap-up to the series, with all the best characters returning for a really fitting end to Harriet’s story. If you’re looking for a satisying finale, there’s one here!

Although you might want to pack tissues, because I cried. I also apparently read this in one day, which should give you an impression of how addictive this series is.

I’ve loved reading this series and I can’t wait for more Holly Smale!

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annalsie

Review: Doing It!: Let’s Talk About Sex by Hannah Witton

Doing It!: Let's Talk About Sex
Doing It!: Let’s Talk About Sex by Hannah Witton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As ever, I’m super behind on reviews so let’s review Doing It! by Hannah Witton…

**This book was sent to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

Doing It: Let’s Talk About Sex is Hannah’s first book and it’s a non-fiction discussion about loads of different topics, most of which are around sex and relationships. There’s talk about toxic relationships, masturbation, slut shaming and puberty in here, and it is so so welcome. Sex and relationship education is so lacking in so many countries (although today it’s been announced that there will be an overhaul in the UK – yay!) and these books are so important in the education of young people.

Hannah talks frankly and openly on so many ‘taboo’ topics like how she lost her virginity, her periods, masturbation, etc. and this is what makes the book so great – this isn’t a textbook, it’s a informative discussion with personal experiences from the author who is still a young woman and is so relatable.

I’m a little older than the target demographic here and I still learned things – I can’t help but recommend this book to teenagers (I knew very little of all this when I was a teenager).

If you liked this book, you’ll also love Girl Up by Laura Bates, This Book is Gay by Juno Dawson and Animal by Sara Pascoe.

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annalsie

Review: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

We Come Apart
We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: eARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

First off, One was one of my favourite books of last year and so when a new Sarah Crossan book came across the horizon, I pounced on it. If you haven’t read One yet, just know that it’s a beautiful and quick read, and well worth the hype.

We Come Apart is a new book from Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan, told from dual perspectives. Nicu is a Romanian immigrant, who has come to the UK with his mum and dad to earn some extra cash for his upcoming arranged marriage. Jess is a British girl who has fallen in with the wrong crowd, and who is experiencing domestic violence at home. They meet at a youth reparation scheme, picking up litter, and become friends.

I love reading novels in verse since I picked up One – it’s a really powerful medium, but also really quick and accessible to read. The writing here is also really clever – Nicu’s broken English was difficult to get used to at first but really brought life to a character struggling with his English language skills.

This book was especially poignant regarding racism in the wake of Brexit, and the bullying Nicu faces is worsened by taunts of ‘I though we’d voted you out of this country’.

Due to the topics discussed in this book, I imagine some readers might find it difficult to read and please do keep that in mind before picking this one up.

I only had two issues with the book – one is that I wanted more from the conclusion, and the other that I felt Jess’s storyline coming from a working class household blighted with domestic violence was a little cliché and perhaps dangerous (but this is a symptom of fiction in general I think).

If you enjoyed One, We Come Apart is another great novel from Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan and well worth the read. I’m looking forward to more books from these two authors!

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annalsie

Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Truthwitch
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Dislcaimer: Copy received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.**

Last January, Truthwitch was a book with a beautiful cover that was getting A LOT of hype around it. Written by the infallible Sarah J. Maas’ best friend, Susan Dennard, any fan of YA fantasy was desperate to get their hands on this brand new fantasy series about witches, friendship and elemental control.

Fast forward to January 2017, and I’ve *finally* read Truthwitch in anticipation for Windwitch, and I’ve come to the conclusion that all the hype was justified.
Truthwitch is the story of four main characters – Safiya, the truthwitch, Iseult, the threadwitch, Aedeon, the bloodwitch, and Merik, the windwitch. Truthwitch is Safi’s story, but the book focuses on all four main characters pretty equally throughout the book. I won’t go into the plot too much, but essentially Aedeon is in pursuit of Safiya and Iseult for Safiya’s truthwitch abilities, and Safi and Iseult escape the city on Merik’s ship. Each character is fleshed out with interesting and mysterious back story, and some of my favourite scenes were when we learnt a little more about each character’s background.

I also loved how the characters in this book have motives and no character is 100% good or evil.

As well as some pretty kick ass characters, the world building is extensive and original – I loved the different types of witches, some of which are completely new to me (threadwitches, for example). The world is so rich that some scenes almost come flying off the page as if they were on screen (especially some of the scenes with Safi and Iseult).

The friendship between Safi and Iseult was refreshing and a feature which I loved – rarely does a friendship in a novel eclipse any romances. Their friendship was well done and powerful.

The only reason this is a 4 star read rather than 5 stars for me was pacing – I felt this book was a little slow at times, or perhaps a little long at 400 pages.

Personally, I can’t wait to delve into Windwitch which I have heard is even better, and I look forward to returning to this beautiful world and its characters.
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annalsie

Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

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The Selection by Kiera Cass

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know I’m coming to this series way too late, but I finally read The Selection as it was available on NetGalley from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

The Selection is the Bachelorette (not that I’ve ever watched the Bachelorette) meets The Hunger Games, and follows America Singer, a Five (out of Eight) in a dystopian United States. She loves a boy against the rules – Aspen is a Six, someone who is not worthy of her because of his social status, and they meet after curfew in a treehouse.

Pushed by Aspen, who doesn’t feel worthy of her, and her mother, who dreams of what it could bring the family, America is pushed to enter The Selection, where 35 girls are whisked off to the palace for the chance to be chosen to marry Prince Maxon. Even being selected elevates the girls’ social status and changes their lives forever.

I really enjoyed The Selection – it’s a fun dystopian tale that doesn’t take itself too seriously (and that’s important to remember). It actually works in more alternate world history than many serious dystopians, and I loved America’s character – the fact that she has a boyfriend at the beginning of the novel, and seemed generally unimpressed with Maxon’s charms produced an interesting character, who isn’t swept off her feet immediately, if at all. Many of the periphery characters were a little underdeveloped, but to develop them would have taken the story off in tangents that it didn’t need to explore.

I especially loved how America seems human – she doesn’t get over Aspen easily and she doesn’t dive straight into another relationship. She’s a real fish out of water in this novel and her perspective on events is interesting and entertaining.

It’s important to note that this is more of a Part 1 of a book, with the next two instalments (The Elite and The One) filling Parts 2 and 3 – there isn’t a real story resolution and I’m glad the next two books have already been released. I’d like to see this story as a bind-up to complete the story.

Overall, a fun read that has instigated a need to finish this series (if not only for the gorgeous covers!).
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Annalise x

#WaitingOnWednesday – Nothing Tastes As Good by Claire Hennessy

This week’s Waiting On Wednesday book is Nothing Tastes As Good by Claire Hennessy!

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UK Publisher: Hot Key Books

UK Release Date: 14th July 2016

Nothing Tastes As Good is the story of Annabel, a recently deceased teen who suffered from anorexia in life, who is assigned to help another teenager with a difficult relationship with food, Annabel.

I’ve been absolutely loving Irish YA at the moment (and so is everyone else, if they deluge of awards for the likes of Sarah Crossan and Louise O’Neill is anything to go by) and I’m SO excited for this July release.

There’s a pandemic in YA of important issues that affect teenagers which tend to go ignored because they’re difficult to write. I’m talking things like body image and body dysphoria, discovering your sexuality or coming to terms with a disability or illness.

Finally, we have a book that tackles anorexia, obesity and eating disorders, and it has some brilliant reviews (GoodReads average 4.5 at time of writing), and I can’t wait to read and review. If you know of any books which tackles similar issues, please let me know!

Annalise x

Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

And I Darken by Kiersten White

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: copy received from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

3.5 stars

And I Darken is the first in a new trilogy by Kiersten White, whose Paranormalcy I have previously read and enjoyed, but just didn’t carry on with. It follows Lada Dracul, the gender-swapped version of Vlad the Impaler. Pretty awesome, right?

I loved the concept of this novel from the outset, and knew I just had to read it. I love Dracula, and I love alternate histories.

The novel begins with Lada’s birth and childhood, which I really enjoyed seeing – we rarely see the background of a character, and this beginning felt very different. We’re dropped into Wallachia, gaining an insight into the upbringing of Lada and her younger brother, Radu, from whose perspective the story is also told. Lada is boistrous and violent, whilst Radu is quiet and timid, and these were fun roles to explore.

We slowly see Lada and Radu grow up, and soon they are traded and betrayed by their father to the Sultan, whose son, Mehmed, they soon grow close too. I actually really liked the character of Mehmed, who struggles with politics and power. The only problem with Mehmed is that everyone and their dog appears to be in love with him. The romance between Mehmed and Lada is interesting, simply because she struggles with wanting to be her own woman, and also with jealousy of Mehmed’s wives and concubines, which I thought brought an original and refreshing twist on a typical romance. She also rebuffs his advances which I liked – many girls in YA simply fall for the handsome prince when he dares to look their way.

My problem with Lada is the same problem I had with Celaena Sardothien in the first Throne of Glass novel – for a character advertised as cutthroat, murderous and ravenous for blood, she doesn’t do much killing. In fact, she’s left behind while the men go off to fight, and she never kills except for in self defence. I think there’s a hesitation with authors to write a character, and especially a female character, who actually is a bit evil, and does actual killing without remorse. Lada really did show promise at the beginning of the novel, but she just didn’t live up to her promise.

Another problem I had – and this is perhaps my own fault – is there were so many characters in this, and I forgot who they were and what had happened previously to them. I did put this book down about 1/3 of the way through in early June and pick it back up to finish it a few weeks later, but some of the characters just weren’t memorable, and then became important. I loved almost all of the female characters, but I just became confused about who a lot of the male characters were and when they had been introduced.

What this book really needs at the beginning is a map and a timeline – I got confused when time skipped ahead quickly, and had no idea what year it was or how old the characters were, although this would have been easier with a real life copy of the book.

What ultimately led me to give this book 3.5 stars was the voice – this book is written in third person limited, and so we don’t really get to see the feelings and motivations of the characters, and I felt a bit disconnected from them.

This book did however inspire me – I really want to see more alternate (or not) historical fiction, especially in unusual time periods and locations like this one. It genuinely is an original book, and I’d love to see more books like this on the market. I also really appreciated the inclusion of religion in this book – it’s a topic often shied away from, and it certainly wasn’t here.

Overall, a really refreshing read with an original concept, but that fell a little short of excellent.

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Annalise x

YALC Reading List: Part 3!

It’s the third week of the YALC reading list and I have nine more authors to share with you…

Again, the YALC reading list will be updated every Sunday evening – you can read the first two parts here and here.

Let’s get started…

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19. Derek Landy

Book to read: Demon Road/Desolation

Derek Landy is perhaps best known for his Skullduggery Pleasant series, and if I remember correctly, he was a very popular author at last year’s YALC. I have a copy of Demon Road that I won from Maximum Pop! Books, so I’ll be getting this one signed. Landy’s most recent release is the sequel, Desolation.

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20. Louise O’Neill

Book to read: Asking For It

Both of Louise’s novels, Only Ever Yours (review here) and Asking For It (review here), are feminist must-reads – if there’s one book you have to read this year, it has to be Asking For It. Both tackling difficult issues (body image and gang rape, respectively), these aren’t easy reads – but you will feel better for having read them. After getting my copy of Only Ever Yours signed last year, I’ll be bringing my hardback copy of Asking For It to YALC this year.

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21. Annabel Pitcher

Book to read: Silence is Goldfish

Annabel’s first novel My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece won the 2012 Branford Boase award, and her second novel Ketchup Clouds won the 2013 Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. Her fourth novel, Silence is Goldfish, came out in March 2015, and is about a girl who, upon discovering a family secret, decides to stop talking. I haven’t picked up any of Annabel’s novels, but I will look into her work, if not only because the titles are quite cool.

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22. Philip Reeve

Book to read: Mortal Engines

The Mortal Engines quartet won the Nestle Childrens’ Book Prize, the Blue Peter Book Award, and the Guardian Childrens Book Award – the books focus on a steampunk version of London, which has become a giant machine struggling to run on limited resources. I haven’t read these books but they sound really cool. Reeve’s latest novel, Railhead, looks equally intriguing, and was released in October last year.

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23. Chris Riddell

Book to read: Goth Girl series

Chris Riddell is the current Children’s Laureate, and winner of numerous awards for his books. He’s also a renowned political cartoonist! He’s written and/or illustrated a truly awe-inspiring number of books – but the ones I am most interested in are the Goth Girl series (the first book in the series being Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse).

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24. V.E./Victoria Schwab

Book to read: A Darker Shade of Magic

This year, the hype surrounding the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic, A Gathering of Shadows, was unbearable. I read A Darker Shade of Magic (review here) and while I wasn’t blown away, I did enjoy it, and the blurb of AGOS is making me want to read on. The third book in the trilogy, A Conjuring of Light, releases next year. I’ll be bringing A Darker Shade of Magic to YALC, and I’m sure there’ll be a long queue to see Victoria. (This Savage Song, a YA novel, is out in July, and also looks to be a bestseller).

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25. Darren Shan

Book to read: Cirque du Freak

I haven’t read any Darren Shan – mostly because of the gendering of books and this always seemed like a ‘boy’ series to me. There are 12 books in the Cirque du Freak series (made up of four trilogys), focusing on vampires. Darren’s most recent series, Zom-B, is also made up of 12 books, with the final book released in April 2016. These are both series I should probably pick up at some point, but I’m not sure if that’ll be before July.

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26. Samantha Shannon

Book to read: The Bone Season

I saw Samantha Shannon at YALC last year, presenting (I think) one of the panels. I’ve debated all year with buying The Bone Season, and I’ve seen TBS, and the sequel, The Mime Order, for £2 each on The Works website. I’d definitely pick these up in person, but unfortunately my local copy of The Works has closed down! This is definitely a book I’ve been debating about purchasing, and (probably) will end up picking up at some point.

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27. Holly Smale

Book to read: Geek Girl

Geek Girl is probably the book I’m most likely to pick up before July on this list – with the aim of catching up to the fifth and penultimate book (Head Over Heels) before the final book comes out. Some of the books are on 3 for £10 paperbacks, so I’ll probably pick this one up in July once I’ve moved out of university (I have a lot of books here that will need carrying!). All these books have incredible reviews, so I’m looking forward to picking this series up.

That’s it for this week’s installment of the YALC reading list! What did you think? Which authors do you want to see? Which books will you be picking up or getting signed?

Comment below or tweet me at @annalisebooks!

Annalise x

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.

Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London – but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

I picked up ADSOM because I have heard so many amazing things, and the hype around the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows (AGOS), was, errr, a lot. This is one book I picked up at Foyles Charing Cross in regular Grey London.

A Darker Shade of Magic is a really original novel, following Kell, a ‘Traveler’ who can move between parallel universes. In Grey London (our universe), he meet Lila, a thief looking for adventure. Both Lila and Kell are fresh, quirky characters, in an interesting magical world with its own rich politics and rules. I like London, and magic, and the marriage of the two was really cool.

It’s been a while since I read this book, but it took me a while to read – I was in a bit of a reading slump after Heir of Fire. I liked the style of the book – it’s separated into lots of parts, with short chapters within, so it’s easy to read a little bit, often.

I also loved how there wasn’t really a romance, at all, which is something I’m really enjoying in novels at the moment – romance doesn’t have to feature in every single novel ever, and it should only really feature if it feels natural to do so.

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would (it’s been very hyped up), but I did enjoy it enough to desperately want to read the sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, which sounds actually amazing.

This book is not necessarily YA – I found it in the Sci-Fi section of Foyles, so I’d say it’s being marketed as more Adult, but there’s nothing in here that should put a YA reader off picking this up.

Overall, a good start to a new trilogy, and I will be looking to pick up the sequel in the near future. (Also, the cover is pretty awesome.)

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Have you read ADSOM? What did you think? Comment or tweet me at @annalisebooks!

Annalise x

Review: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

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Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**Disclaimer: Copy received from publisher in exchange for an honest review**

Stargirl is a book I initially heard (and intended to buy) years ago, but just never got round to reading. Originally published in 2000, Stargirl will be re-released (with a new, but similar cover) on 7 April 2016 in the UK. The cover (and covers in the past) is so intriguing, especially as there is no writing on the front (original and rule-breaking, like Stargirl herself).

Stargirl is told through the viewpoint of Leo, a student at Mica High. Stargirl (and yes, that is her name) bursts onto the scene, starting high school after years of being home-schooled. She’s fresh, wacky, and doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

She plays the ukelele at lunchtime and sings happy birthday to anyone and everyone.

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She doesn’t wear make-up and wears outlandish outfits.

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She carries around a rat called Cinnamon.

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Stargirl brings a whole new energy to Mica High, entrancing the student body and joining the cheerleading team.

But soon, Stargirl’s inherent niceness (to anyone and everyone) causes her trouble. She’s nice to the wrong people, they say. The students start to shun high school, and, as Leo realises he loves her, Leo gets shunned too. That’s when Leo tries to make Stargirl ‘normal’.

Stargirl is a really great story – a classic Young Adult novel – about what it means to stay true to yourself, even when others say you should change and conform. It’s a story of first love, and the pressure on high school students to be who others say they should be. Stargirl is written in such an infectious way – it really does feel like you’re there, in Mica, with Leo and Stargirl.

I really liked how the story wrapped up at the end – many YA novels today are left on a cliffhanger or in an ambitious way, and Stargirl ended in a way that allowed closure – although this will be a story that stays with me for a while.

Stargirl has already worked her magic on many past readers – this re-release is sure to capture a few more hearts.

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Annalise x