Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Reviewed by Arianne: The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss.


Product details:
Publisher: Simon & Schuster.
Hardcover, 320 pages.
Release date: April 24th 2014.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: 12+
Source: Received from publisher for review.
Reviewed by: Arianne.

I always thought you'd know, somehow, if something terrible was going to happen. I thought you'd sense it, like when the air goes damp and heavy before a storm and you know you'd better hide yourself away somewhere safe until it all blows over.

But it turns out it's not like that at all. There's no scary music playing in the background like in films. No warning signs. Not even a lonely magpie. One for sorrow, Mum used to say. Quick, look for another.

The world can tip at any moment … a fact that fifteen-year-old Pearl is all too aware of when her mum dies after giving birth to her baby sister. Told across the year following her mother's death, Pearl's story is full of bittersweet humour and heartbreaking honesty about how you deal with grief that cuts you to the bone, as she tries not only to come to terms with losing her mum, but also the fact that her sister - The Rat - is a constant reminder of why her mum is no longer around…


The Year of the Rat is a book I never expected to land in my review pile – but now it has, I’m so glad I took the time to read and enjoy it. 

The world gives and the world takes away. Fifteen-year-old Pearl thought she understood this. After all, she’s never known her real dad, but she’s got a great stepdad instead. Somehow, though, losing a mother and gaining a wrinkly little rat sister is an equation that just doesn’t seem to add up.

This is not an easy read. It’s emotional and unexpectedly brutal. Pearl’s grief is very real and being inside her head is a tough place to be – but the author knows her inside out and short, time-lapse chapters keep the pages turning. Full of heartbreak and desolation, it’s at the very forefront of UKYA in 2014.

After the loss of her mother, Pearl is devastated and furious and lost all at the same time. She doesn’t know what to feel, and she needs someone to blame. Baby sister Rose is the perfect candidate. Pearl can see Rose taking up more and more space in her stepdad’s heart – and she’s pushing Pearl out. Bitter and angry, Pearl starts to rebel. 

Pearl shuns many of her loved ones over the course of this book, but they are still incredibly present. Her stepdad is devoted but inconsolable. To him, Rose is a reminder of his late wife, and he clings to her in the same way that this tiny baby is clinging to life. He tries to reach out to Pearl but when it appears that he is the last thing Pearl wants, he puts all his energy into willing Rose to survive. Pearl’s best friend also makes an appearance, but with her new boyfriend Ravi providing far more entertaining conversation than unhappy, misanthropic Pearl, even she gives up after a while. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the huge role played by Pearl’s mother herself, and not just as a symbol or a memory. Pearl’s connection with her lost mother is open to interpretation, but it’s impossible not to be moved by the forlorn vestiges of their relationship. 

As she becomes more and more distant from the people she knew 'before', Pearl seeks out new sources of attention - her biological father in particular. In a style similar to Morgan's road-trip to find her father in Janet Gurtler's 16 Things I Thought Were True, Pearl sets out a journey to find a new version of herself, wondering if maybe her real dad will be able to fill the gap that's tearing her apart from the inside out. Like many teenagers, Pearl wants an escape from the harsh realities of life – and hers is tougher than most. 

Pearl's new way of thinking is underlined by the idea that if everyone’s going to die anyway, what’s the point? She misbehaves at school and she lashes out at others - even people like Finn, the wonderful boy next door character who tries to show her that the world can still be a wonderful place even after you’ve suffered loss so close to home. I would have liked to have seen more of Finn, actually, but this is a book about survival, not romance, and that’s made clear from the beginning.

There’s only one reason I’m not giving this book five stars, and that’s the simple fact that Pearl’s behaviour is at some points so appalling it alienates the reader from the story. There is one particular moment where she can’t cope with looking after newborn Rose for a couple of hours and her response is just inexcusable. She has a mean streak that can’t be excused by the fact that she's reverted to a recklessly childlike state in the wake of her mother’s death.

It’s important to note that The Year of the Rat isn’t all misery, though. It’s heart-wrenchingly funny as well as extraordinarily bittersweet. My favourite character, without doubt, was Verity. She made me laugh so much more than I expected. There are unexpected and astonishing moments of joy to be found in these pages, and they make the book well worth reading.

In short: raw and honest, this heart-breaking tale of loss and anger is one of the most unique and compelling novels I’ve read so far this year


--Arianne.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Book Review: Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting.


Product details:
Publisher: Headline.
Hardcover, 389 pages.
Release date: April 16th 2013.
Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Series: The Body Finder  #4.
Other Books in Series: The Body Finder, Desires of the Dead, The Last Echo.
Overall Series Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.

Violet thought she’d made peace with her unique ability to sense the echoes of the dead and the imprints that cling to their killers…that is until she acquired an imprint of her own. Forced to carry a reminder of the horrible events of her kidnapping, Violet is more determined than ever to lead a normal life. However, the people who run the special investigative team Violet works for have no intention of letting her go.

When someone close to Violet becomes a suspect in a horrific murder, she finds herself pulled into a deadly hunt for a madman with an army of devoted followers. Violet has survived dangerous situations before, but she quickly discovers that protecting those closest to her is far more difficult than protecting herself.

 Note: I try to keep things spoiler free, but you should be aware that there may be spoilers for previous books in The Body Finder series in this review!


 Violet Ambrose has pretty much come to terms with her unique ability by which she can sense ‘echoes of the dead’ and track down murderers via the imprints that cling to their bodies. There are side-effects to this, sure; such as the fact that Violet now bears an imprint of her own due to events in The Last Echo. For the most part, though, Violet sees her ability as something good: something that helps catch killers and enables the dead to rest in peace. Violet is no stranger to putting herself in danger, but her friends and family are sacred to her and she would do anything to keep them safe. However, in Dead Silence, the latest and rumored final installment in Kimberly Derting’s always-thrilling Body Finder series, the stakes are higher than ever as much to Violet’s dismay things get personal – very personal. Violet faces a race against not only time, but also a deadly serial-killer in the quest to save her nearest and dearest from certain death.

But even as we read the opening pages of Dead Silence we begin to wonder if Violet is fighting a losing battle…

Right from day one The Body Finder series has been a huge, huge favorite of mine. Back in the days of insta-love, Violet Ambrose and her best-friend-turned-boyfriend Jay Heaton were a breath of fresh air, and they still are: theirs is a romance that has stood the YA test of time, side-stepped an (unnecessary) love-triangle and emerged on the other side stronger, united and more in love than ever. In the past Violet has been stubborn, secretive and foolhardy at times, but here she is a fully-realized, well-rounded character who has her priorities in check, and ever-supportive Jay always by her side. Love that guy. #BestBookBoyfriend

Of course, while the romance in this book is pretty much to-die-for, romance is not what Dead Silence is all about. No. The Body Finder books have always been a little darker than the usual YA fare, and Dead Silence ups the gore factor and then some. This time round, Violet happens upon the actual slaughter of a family, and her investigation leads her to a Charles Mason-esque killer (complete with ‘family’ of drug addled murderers) in whom she might have just met her match. Of course, Violet being Violet, she walks straight into danger, but this time, she may just have bitten off more than she can chew. This is the final book, after all. And nobody is safe.

You might think that chasing down a serial killer might take up pretty much all of Violet’s spare time, but, no: she has a whole lot of other stuff to contend with too. Such as Rafe- the third wheel in the just-not-happening love triangle who just won’t give up, even going so far as to enroll as a student at Violet’s school. What is with that guy? Okay, Okay-it’s well known that I’m not a Rafe fan. I know some of you guys are; but the love connection is (I’ll say it again) Just. Not. Happening. I will say that in Dead Silence, Rafe is a good friend and confidante to Violet and in this book he goes above and beyond the call of duty to make Violet’s world a nicer place to be. Really. Above and beyond. It’s kind of gross, actually. I’m being harsh, I know. But it’s time for Rafe to move on and maybe he does: maybe Rafe gets a love interest of his own. Maybe. Aw, shucks. I know what this boy has been through in the past. He deserves a happy ending.

As a series, The Body Finder has it all: all four books are fast-paced thrillers from start to finish with engaging characters and that to-die-for romance. I’m so sad to see the series end. I’m extra sad to say goodbye to Jay. I’ll miss him, and I’ll miss Vi.  An added bonus to this book was getting to read Violet’s Grandmother’s diary and finding out more about the ability the two share. There is a whole lot going on in Dead Silence, and I loved every minute.   Though this is currently the last-planned book in the series (as far as I’m aware) there is still so much more than Derting could explore from this multi-layered creation of hers. A spin-off series is a strong possibility (the ending of one characters story-arc in particular throws up a whole lot of OMG!) and I would love, love, love to see The Body Finder series on TV.

I bet Jay Heaton would give those Vampire Diaries boys a run for their money in the hot TV-boyfriends stakes.

If you are a fan of YA, romance, suspense and mystery, and you haven’t yet checked out The Body Finder series, I strongly urge that you do. You are really missing out!
 

Author Event: Rainbow Rowell to meet UK 'fangirls' in July 2014!


Rainbow Rowell to meet UK ‘fangirls’ in July 2014


New York Times bestselling author, Rainbow Rowell, will embark on a UK tour in July 2014

FANGIRL author Rowell announced plans for a UK tour to her fans on her blog and via Twitter on Wednesday 16th April. Rowell will visit Scotland, England and Wales during a five-day promotional tour. The trip will include an appearance at YALC the first YA Lit Con at London Film and Comic Con, curated by Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman.

Details of the tour are as follows:

Thursday 10th July – 6.30pm
Ticketed author talk and book signing
Waterstones
153-157 Sauchiehall Street
Glasgow
G2 3EW
T: 0141 332 9105
Tickets are available from the shop at £3/£2 Waterstones Cardholders

Friday 11th July – 6:30pm
Ticketed author talk and book signing
Waterstones
12 College Lane
Liverpool
L1 3DL
T. 0151 709 9820
Tickets are available from the shop at £3/£2 Waterstones Cardholders 

Saturday 12th July – from 12noon
Author panel event and book signing
YA Lit Con at London Film & Comic Con
Earls Court 2,
Earls Court Exhibition Centre,
Warwick Road,
London
SW5 9TA
For tickets and further information visit: http://www.londonfilmandcomiccon.com/

Sunday 13th July – 2pm
Book signing
Waterstones
2a The Hayes
Cardiff
CF10 1WB
T: 029 2066 5606
This signing will not be ticketed. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Monday 14th July – 6:30pm
Ticketed author talk and book signing
Waterstones
203/206 Piccadilly
London
W1J 9HD
Tickets available from: Waterstones.com/tickets £5/£3 Waterstones Cardholders (includes
refreshments) 

Grab the button if you're a 'fangirl'




Additional information: Press Release.
 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Blog Tour: Read the First Chapter of STORM by Brigid Kemmerer.


Storm by Brigid Kemmerer || Release date: April 17th 2014
(First published 2012)

Secrets are hard to keep when your life's at stake.

Becca Chandler is suddenly getting all the guys; all the ones she doesn't want. When she saves Chris Merrick from a beating in the school parking lot, everything is about to change. Chris is different from the guys at school... really different. He can control water just like his brothers can control fire, wind, and earth. The brothers are powerful and dangerous. And now that Becca knows the truth, so is she.

When the mysterious new kid, Hunter, turns up, Becca thinks she can trust him. But when he goes head-to-head with Chris, Becca's left wondering who's hiding the most dangerous truth of all.


********** 


>>Click the top-left arrow to read in full screen.
>>Or READ/DOWNLOAD HERE.



Follow the STORM Blog Tour


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Stacking The Shelves #5 - New Books From Becca Fitzpatrick, Lauren Barnholdt, Ali Harris & More!

Stacking The Shelves is hosted at Tynga's Reviews.
Links Lead to Goodreads 

I haven't done a Stacking The Shelves post in about three weeks now, so I have a LOT of books to share. Let's get to it! Also, I need to go on a Netgalley/Edelweiss ban. Seriously.

Received for Review 



Written in the Stars by Ali Harris (Netgalley)
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord (Netgalley)

The First Last Kiss by Ali Harris was my favourite read of 2013 and I've been very excited to get my hands on her new release - even more excited when I spotted it on Netgalley a whole two months before it releases. Yay! Can't wait to get started on this.

Open Road Summer has been getting a bunch of review love from my Goodreads friends and it looks like a pretty sweet summer read! 




Above by Isla Morley
Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick (Edelweiss)
Storm by Brigid Kemmerer (Blog Tour)
The Long Fall by Julia Crouch

I hadn't heard a whole lot about ABOVE by Isla Morley until it landed on my doorstep, but let's just say after reading the Press Release and accompanying blurbs, my interest is most definitely piqued for this one! 

BLACK ICE, the highly anticipated new novel from Hush, Hush author Becca Fitzpatrick showed up on Edelweiss - I grabbed - and then the day after I was approved the copy EXPIRED (?!!) Thankfully, as already mentioned I had GRABBED as I have previous experience with Edelweiss copies expiring twenty-four hours after the approval email has been sent. This happened to me with Lauren Oliver's Delirium and let's just say I learned my lesson. I now grab copies from Edelweiss immediately, and currently have 48 days to read Black Ice before it expires on my eReader.

I'm on the Blog Tour for STORM by Brigid Kemmerer on April 15th. I've heard a lot of good things about this one and the Goodreads reviews seems wholly positive. 

I'm totally sold on the premise of THE LONG FALL by Julia Crouch a summer mystery which takes place in two time periods; Greece in 1980 and present day London. Sounds good!



The Best Thing I Never Had by Erin Lawless (Blog Tour)
The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank (Edelweiss)
Through to You by Lauren Barnholdt (Edelweiss)
American Blonde by Jennifer Niven (Edelweiss)

Man, I really need to cut back on my Edelweiss requests! The Hurricane Sisters sounds like a great summer saga and I'm always excited to check out anything new by Lauren Barnholdt. I haven't heard much at all about American Blonde, but I LOVE anything Old Hollywood so I'll check it out! The blurb of The Best Thing I Never Had promises that it's perfect for fans of One Day so that sounds good to me!



Bought


If Only by A.J. Pine
The Love of my Life by Louise Douglas


Phew! And that is it! This post tells me that while I turn down a lot of books I'm sent for review, I'll still never have enough time to read ALL THE BOOKS! It's a good problem to have, I guess. Could be worse!

It's around this time of year that I always seem to take a break from blogging, and it's no different this year. I am partaking in a couple of blog tours this month, but apart from that it'll probably be pretty quiet around here for the next few weeks as I have other important things to do like binge watch House of Cards, catch up on True Detective and check out the new season of Game of Thrones, although maybe not at 2 in the a.m. 


Current Read: Far From You by Tess Sharpe. 




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