Monday, 29 July 2013

Roller Girls: Falling Hard by Megan Sparks

Title: Roller Girls: Falling Hard
Author: Megan Sparks
Published by: Curious Fox
Publication date: 18th July 2013
Pages: 208
Genres: Young Adult/Sports/Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Ladies, get your glam and your skates on!

After Annie Turner's parents split up, she thought moving to the USA with her dad would be an exciting new start.

But she's struggling to fit in. For a start, the most popular girl at school hates her!

Things finally begin to look up when Annie discovers the wild sport of roller derby and a whole new underground scene she'd never even known existed.

And then there's Tyler, a green-eyed football player who literally makes Annie want to drool in public...

Is Annie tough enough to make it as a roller girl?

After Annie's parents separate, causing Annie and her father to move from the familiar sounds and people of London to a tiny town in mid-west America, Annie knows she'll be having a hard time fitting in. Back in London, Annie practically lived at the West London Gymnastics Centre, but there doesn't seem to be anything in the US that she's good at. Except cheerleading. But it's highly unlikely that she would join the team when the ice queen is the captain! But how easy would it be for her to say no to joining the squad? Not very.

Then Annie discovers the world of the Roller Derby. Already possessing advanced gymnastics skills, Annie is ready to jump right in! With a team of brave, kind, independent girls, what's not to love about the sport?

Annie is a lovely character with so much going for her. She's really positive and if she wants something badly enough, she'll find a way to get it! However, my favourite character in this was Lexie, who reached out to Annie when Annie first moved to the US and didn't have any friends yet. Lexie is a rare kind of character in YA - she doesn't care what other people think about her, she's friendly, talented and genuine. If she was real, I would definitely want her as my friend!
I also really liked Jesse. I think he would have been perfect for Annie, but unfortunately he didn't appear much in this book! Hopefully he will feature more often in the other books.

Falling Hard is all about Annie discovering who she is and who she wants to be. With witty one-liners and kick-ass characters on every page, this coming-of-age contemporary novel is not to be missed! This book balances sport, friendship and humour really well. Even though I don't usually enjoy sporty books, this has turned out to be one of my favourite books this year.

Something I didn't think was quite right in this book was that Annie didn't seem too concerned or upset that her friends from England hadn't bothered to contact her at all. I know that if I had moved from the UK to the US, I would still want to be in contact with my British friends and if they didn't stay in touch I'd be really upset! Maybe she starts missing them more in the other books in the series. Who knows!

Even though Annie has a few encounters with bullies in this book - prime example being the cheerleading squad - I'm glad there wasn't too much tension between them all. Sometimes when a book just focuses on the lovely main character being bullied, I find it gets too stressful even to read! Falling Hard was a nice break from that.

Falling Hard was a lighthearted and fun read and I'm really looking forward to reading the next books in the series. It's perfect for the laid-back summer season (which, weirdly, us Brits are having right now...I know, rare.) Funny, fabulous and realistic, you'd be mad not to read it!
Saturday, 27 July 2013

Design Timeline: 2009-2013

As some of you may already know, I started blogging when I was 7. Meaning I have been blogging for half of my life. My original blog was called Let's Call It a Journey and I stopped blogging there when I started blogging here in 2009. It was still public up until a couple of months ago, when I made it private because...well, it was embarrassing!

So today, I thought I would take you through a design timeline of this blog. Looking back, I really wasn't very good at blog designing! Or writing blog posts. My first review basically consisted of 'I liked this book. It made me happy. You should buy it.' (I'm exaggerating, obviously, but it was something along those lines!)

Sadly I don't have any screen shots of my blog from 2009, but I do have the background and the header I used.

I think you'll agree when I say it looked boring and cramped! Luckily, I eventually grew out of that style...

Hmm. The header was alright. I guess. These were back in 2011. The next and final major change in blog design was just a few months ago, when I finally got bored of the design above! This next change was the biggest and the best, if I do say so myself.

It's strange looking at my old blog designs, because you can really tell that my styles were changing and I was getting older. I'm glad to say that I'm completely happy with my blog design nowadays and I doubt I'll be changing it for a while.
What do you guys think?
Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Anatomy of a Boyfriend by Daria Snadowsky

Title: Anatomy of a Boyfriend
Author: Daria Snadowsky
Published by: Delacorte Press
Publication date: 23rd September 2008
Pages: 264
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Hardback
Source: Review copy from the author.

Before all this happened, the closest I'd ever come to getting physical with a guy was playing the board game Operation.

Then I met Wes, a track-star senior from across town.

Maybe it was his soulful blue eyes, or maybe my hormones just started raging. Either way, I was hooked. And after a while, he was too.

I couldn't believe how intense my feelings became, or the fact that I was seeing - and touching - parts of the body I'd only read about in my Gray's Anatomy textbook.

You could say Wes and I experienced a lot of firsts together that spring.

It was scary. It was fun. It was love.

And then came the fall.

I've read some positive reviews of this book, so when the author offered this to me as well as its sequel, I was happy to accept.

Anatomy of a Boyfriend is told through the eyes of seventeen-year-old Dominique Baylor, or 'Dom' for short. She was funny, clumsy, honest and hoping to study Pre-med. Her mother was a teacher at her school, and her dad was a police officer - not a good set up for the average teenager, is it? However, Dom wasn't exactly rebellious - or not at the start, anyway - so she didn't mind.

Throughout the book it showed all of the characters going from high school to college. All the changes and emotions that went with that felt natural. Some of my friends are the same age as the characters in this book, so I know that Snadowsky managed to portray a realistic picture of older teenage life.

Dom's best friend Amy was really funny and supportive and generally everything you would expect from a best friend. Even though some of the things she said made me cringe, she was still a refreshingly different character which was great.

The concept as a whole is promising, and I liked that everything was so honest. The book was basically about Dom trying to find a boyfriend, whom she eventually found. And then the rest of the book showed all of the awkwardness and clumsiness of 'firsts'. Some books will try and glamourize all of that, but the book was true to life. It was very open about everything which is almost rare for YA. It was almost too open for my liking and pretty graphic in places but I carried on reading so I could review it for you guys. You're all so lucky to have me! xD

The writing was good and the dialogue was brilliant - witty and humorous. One of my favourite things about this book is that girl back-stabbing wasn't in it. At all. And I loved that because basically nothing got in the way of what my favourite characters wanted to do.

To conclude, there were sweet, sad, cringey, funny moments and more, but I didn't really see a plot there. It was just a group of teenagers going from high school to college and discovering themselves, which wasn't all that enjoyable for me to read. There didn't seem to be any sub-plots and I don't remember being surprised at any given time whilst reading this. The characters were believable and the writing was good enough to keep me reading, so overall I'm going to give Anatomy of a Boyfriend 3/5. I would say it's suitable for girls (it's pretty much guaranteed that boys won't enjoy this) aged 15+. Even though it is a YA book, I'd say most of the content is adult. It is a good YA contemporary novel, I just personally didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would.
Sunday, 21 July 2013

DISCUSSION: J.K Rowling's pseudonym


Most of the world knows by now that J.K Rowling has been revealed as the author of The Cuckoo's Calling, but under the pseudonym 'Robert Galbraith'. Apparently the pseudonym roughly translates to 'Famous stranger' in Gaelic, but I can't confirm that as I don't speak the language.

Rowling decided to write the novel under the disguise of a debut author Robert Galbraith to see what the response would be like to a first time author with the writing ability of one of the most famous authors in the world such as herself. Her real identity was only disclosed to a tiny amount of people, including those who worked at the legal firm Russells.

Chris Gossage who worked at Russells is said to have told his wife's best friend, Judith Callegari, that Galbraith was really Rowling. The company stated that it was revealed "during a private conversation". They then added "the disclosure was made in confidence to someone he trusted". Shortly after Gossage told Callegari the secret, she revealed Rowling's identity to a Sunday Times journalist on Twitter on July 9th.
Russells continued: "On becoming aware of the circumstances, we immediately notified J.K Rowling's agent."

The book had sold just 1,500 copies before Rowling was revealed as the author, but it rose more than 5,000 places to top Amazon's sales list within hours after she was revealed. Rowling found writing under a pseudonym "a liberating experience" and she had "hoped to keep this secret a little longer" but later added it had "been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name." However, she also said "I feel very angry that my trust turned out to be misplaced. To say that I am disappointed is an understatement."


Rowling has been writing successful books for years. Of course, this includes the prestigious Harry Potter series and also The Casual Vacancy. With each book she wrote came hype, expectation and - if the book wasn't a new Harry Potter book - disappointment from fans. So it is understandable that she wanted to experiment and see what it would be like to be a first-time author again. 

I feel really sorry for her that the secret was revealed at all, never mind so soon. I did wonder if the whole 'reveal' was part of a marketing plan, but Russells have stated: "We can confirm that this leak was not part of any marketing plan and that neither J.K Rowling, her agent nor publishers were in any way involved."

Overall, I am very much on Rowling's side about all of this.

What do you think about all of this?
Saturday, 20 July 2013

Charm and Strange by Stephanie Keuhn

Title: Charm and Strange
Author: Stephanie Keuhn
Published by: Electric Monkey
Publication date: 3rd June 2013
Pages: 272
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Hardback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

There are two sides to each of us. The charm...and the strange.

"Don't. Please don't say my name. You have no idea who I really am."

No one really knows who Andrew Winston Winters is. Least of all himself. He is part Win, a lonely teenager exiled to a remote boarding school in the wake of a family tragedy. The guy who shuts the whole world out, no matter the cost, because his darkest fear is of himself...of the wolfish predator within.

But he's also part Drew, the angry boy with violent impulses that control him. The boy who, one fateful summer, was part of something so terrible it came close to destroying him.

"Only two people knew my secret. I saw them both die."

Usually in a review, I'll have the official summary of the book at the top, and then I'll go into the plot in more detail in my own words. But with this book, I can't do that I have no words. I can't explain it. So I'll jump straight in with my opinion.

The cover of this book is dark, mysterious, strange and a little bit creepy. It ties in perfectly with the story within, and it definitely made me intrigued!

'Charm and Strange' is a great title for this book, because it is charming and strange! It is very different to anything you will ever read. It is very noncommercial which is refreshing from all of the other books out in the world at the moment! I didn't dislike Charm and Strange, but I didn't love it either... this message I sent to Jack from The Book Stop this morning basically sums it up:

And then I found my words...

The book really makes you think, even after you have (sadly) turned the last page. It's such a powerful, sad and dark book and I couldn't bear to put it down. I know a lot of people have had mixed feelings about this book - you either love it, hate it, or have no idea where you stand and are left in silence, clutching the book to your chest, rocking back and forth. ...It's a psychological thriller, that's what it's meant to do, right?...

The writing is unique and compelling and I recommend it to people who like to read something different every now and then - especially for fans of John Green. It shows the main character, Drew, going through emotional turmoil to discover who he really is and it really opened my eyes to what some people go through. It's such an intriguing book and if any of you have read it, I would love to know your thoughts seeing as the book has received such diverse reviews! In some places it was a little confusing, but Jack (mentioned above) helped me understand some of it, luckily. For that reason, I give this 4/5!
Thursday, 18 July 2013

Listening for Lucca by Suzanne LaFleur

Title: Listening for Lucca
Author: Suzanne LaFleur
Published by: Puffin
Publication date: 8th August 2013
Pages: 240
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Hardback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

"We're moving to your house - the one from your dream."

Siena sees what isn't there, collects what's left behind.

"Lucca led me to his room, and then just stood in the middle, waiting for me to notice something."

Her brother Lucca hasn't spoken for over a year.

The doctors think he needs a fresh start - that's why her family left Brooklyn. But their new home feels hauntingly familiar - and when Siena finds an old pen the story she writes is not her own...

Can the secrets of the past help Siena break her brother's silence?

A secret untold - until now...

Siena has always had strange dreams and visions of things that aren't really there. For example, she might be walking down the street and suddenly see the environment change to the same street but from fifty years ago. But that's not the only strange thing about Siena; she can also sense ghosts, as can her little brother Lucca who hasn't uttered a word for just over a year.

Life is understandably very frustrating and also a little creepy for their family. So when they all move to a house on the beach in Maine, which just so happens to be the exact house from Siena's recurring dreams, is life going to get better...or worse?

This book is absolutely brilliant. The characters are well-formed - I especially liked Lucca, because even though he didn't speak, I felt like I knew him and my empathy for him was strong. I also really liked Sam - a local from Maine, where Siena and her family moved - because he was nice to Siena and I think she deserved that, as she hadn't received much kindness in the past. I was a bit suspicious of Morgan in the beginning but she was still a cool character!

'Listening for Lucca' is a rather short read - only 229 pages - which was a nice break from the usual long novels I have to read! In my opinion it is perfect for summer as it is mainly set around the beach, and even though it was short I don't think there was any more of the story to be told. Overall, the length was perfect and it's not often I can say that about a book!

To conclude, I highly recommend that you read this beautifully written book. The cover is gorgeous and definitely reflects the story within! 'Listening for Lucca' is definitely a must-read. Ever since I read LaFleur's other book, Eight Keys back in 2011 (review here), I have been aching for another of her books. And here it is! Overall, my rating for this incredible book is 5/5.
Monday, 15 July 2013

The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher

Title: The Killing Woods
Author: Lucy Christopher
Published by: Chicken House
Publication date: 3rd October 2013
Pages: 384
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

Emily’s dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl.

Emily is sure he is innocent, but what happened that night in the woods behind their house where she used to play as a child?

Determined to find out, she seeks out Damon Hillary, the enigmatic boyfriend of the murdered girl.

He also knows these woods.

Maybe they could help each other. But he’s got secrets of his own about games that are played in the dark.

Dangerous games are played at night...

Emily is the daughter of Jon Shepherd - a soldier who has come back from the war with post traumatic stress disorder. He frequently gets flashbacks where he thinks he's still in the war and is a danger to himself and others. Emily and her mother can usually keep this under control, until one night her father comes back from the woods with a girl's body in his arms. She's dead. That's when everything seems to unravel even more.

I found this book quite slow to get into at first, but then the ball started rolling and I really got into it. It felt like I was in the story myself. There were a lot of secrets and even though the book kept changing from one POV* to another, I still didn't know what the secrets were or what was going to happen next, which was brilliant. It meant I was just as surprised as the characters when there was a plot twist.

Emily was surprisingly normal, really, even though she had so many crazy things happening in her life. She had a heart of gold and she seemed really clever. I also liked Damon, even though he creeped me out a bit at first; but he changed. They were very believable characters and I felt empathy towards all of them, despite the alternating POVs.

The Killing Woods is a dark, mysterious, psychological thriller that you're sure to enjoy. Full of twists and turns, it'll keep you on the edge of your seat until the very end. I recommend this to boys, girls, men, women, aliens, monsters... Anyway, my rating is 4.5/5! You won't regret reading this.
* POV = Point of View
Monday, 8 July 2013

The Forever Whale by Sarah Lean

Title: The Forever Whale
Author: Sarah Lean
Published by: Harper Collins
Publication date: 4th July 2013
Pages: 272
Genres: Children's
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

A shared story can last forever.

"Memories scoop you up and take you back to another time, so you can feel things all over again. I think of how important it is for all of us, but especially for Grandad, to remember the bright things from the past. But now he's forgotten everything and he hasn't told me his most important memory yet - the one about a whale..." 

Can Hannah piece together the extraordinary story that  connects Grandad's childhood to her own?

*Sorry about the bad quality picture of the book, it is the only one I could find.*

This story is beautifully told by ten-year-old Hannah. She has always been very close with her Grandad and she has lovely memories of going out on his boat with him in the summer. But then things take a turn for the worse, when her Grandad develops Alzheimer's. Everything starts going downhill, but a mystery is unfolding, which Hannah needs to get to the bottom of, fast.

I found it quite a slow read - it took me a while to get into it; in fact it took me most of the book to get into it - but it's like a jigsaw and the story started gradually piecing together. It was nice to read though and it was a lovely story. Hannah's Grandad reminded me a lot of my late Grandma who also had Alzheimer's so it was a story that I could relate to, and Hannah and her Grandad in particular were very believable characters.

In my opinion I don't like the cover too much, but obviously that doesn't affect the story inside and it is just down to personal preference.

I think I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if I was younger - maybe I'm too old for it. Still, it's a lovely story and full of emotion. I recommend it for readers aged 8-11 and my rating for it is 3.5/5!
Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The Rainbow Spines Book Tag

I've never done a book tag on here before, but the Rainbow Spines tag was really fun so I'm happy it got to be the first one on this blog!

To do the tag properly, you need to pick a book for each colour of the rainbow. The Rainbow Spines book tag is basically a chance to show off your pretty books - what an awesome excuse!

Top to bottom: Hades by Alexandra Adornetto, Swapped by a Kiss by Luisa Plaja, Wonder by R.J Palacio, Love is a Thief by Claire Garber, The Fault in our Stars by John Green, Box of Tricks by Ellie Boswell, Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman, Tapas and Tears by Chris Higgins, Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz, No Use Crying by Zannah Kearns and Brooklyn Girls: Pia by Gemma Burgess.

Red - Secrets, secrets, secrets, she thought. It’s just another word for lying. The discovery of a grandfather Niki thought had died years ago means a sudden move to London and the start of a whole new life. Niki has to learn quickly to fit in and survive in the school halls and on the tough streets. And at the same time she must get to know her Grandad and come to terms with the fact that her mum has been hiding the truth. But when Niki suddenly discovers her mum’s biggest lie of all, could it change their relationship – and Niki’s own sense of identity – for good? 

Orange - Colin Fischer is 14 and he has Asperger's. A lot of the world is a mystery to Colin - he can't read his classmates' expressions without looking at a chart, the colour blue is really off-putting and he has no idea why his parents like to hug him. But when a gun goes off in the school cafeteria one lunchtime, Colin knows he can work out who did it. Colin loves cool, hard logic. His hero is Sherlock Holmes. Only Colin can piece together the puzzle that links chocolate cake, a dodgy gangster, a cheerleader and a very unlikely suspect.

Yellow - Jaime never wanted to go on the school exchange trip to Spain in the first place. She finds life awkward enough as it is and, because of her embarrassing blushing habit, she tries to avoid drawing attention to herself. Living in someone else’s home, and in a foreign country, is way out of her comfort zone! But persuaded by her mum and her best friends she reluctantly agrees to go and stay with the carefully selected and colourfully-named Concepcin Inmaculada. After all, a girl named after the Virgin Mary has got to be quiet, kind and gentle… Wrong! Concha is a scary, rebellious, boy-mad loner with a mind of her own. Jaime is going to have to be prepared for anything and everything!

Yellow - Eleven-year-old Harrison Opoku, the second best runner in Year 7, races through his new life in England with his personalised trainers - the Adidas stripes drawn on with marker pen - blissfully unaware of the very real threat around him. Newly-arrived from Ghana with his mother and older sister Lydia, Harri absorbs the many strange elements of city life, from the bewildering array of Haribo sweets, to the frightening, fascinating gang of older boys from his school. But his life is changed forever when one of his friends is murdered. As the victim's nearly new football boots hang in tribute on railings behind fluorescent tape and a police appeal draws only silence, Harri decides to act, unwittingly endangering the fragile web his mother has spun around her family to keep them safe.

Green - Sophie and Katy shouldn't be friends: witches and witch-hunters just aren't meant to get along! Now that their friendship is out in the open, both girls are in danger. But if they stick together, they feel like they can overcome anything. Then Katy starts acting strangely mean. Sophie is totally confused: it's like her BFF has had a personality transplant. And that's not possible . . . is it?

BlueDespite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

Blue - Kate Winters is an ordinary girl, with a not-so-ordinary mission: take back what love stole! Kate Winters might just be that girl. You know the one. The girl who, for no particular reason, doesn't get the guy, doesn't have children, doesn't get the romantic happy ever after. So she needs a plan. What does she like doing? What didn't she get to do because she fell in love? What would she be happy spending the rest of her life doing if love never showed up again? This is one girl's journey to take back what love stole and maybe find love again along the way.

Blue - 'My name is August. I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.' Auggie wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things - eating ice cream, playing on his Xbox. He feels ordinary - inside. But ordinary kids don't make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids aren't stared at wherever they go. Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. Now, for the first time, he's being sent to a real school - and he's dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted - but can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, underneath it all?

Indigo - Rachel hates her life and everyone in it - she even has suspicions that her on/off boyfriend David might not be entirely trustworthy. However, when David invites her to a music festival in England featuring their friend's band, she jumps at the chance for an overseas adventure. Hoping to surprise David, Rachel arrives at the festival early, where she runs into a nasty surprise of her own - she sees David kissing their friend Jo. Distraught, Rachel runs off, wishing she could leave her life behind... the next thing she knows, she's back with David. But not as herself... She's now in Jo's body! Can she keep the swap a secret from David until she can work out exactly what's going on and get her revenge? Over the course of a very weird weekend, Rachel puts herself in someone else's shoes and finds that her own maybe weren't as uncomfortable as she'd always thought. But can she ever be herself again?

Violet - Is love a great enough power against evil? Bethany Church believes so - after all, the love of her angel siblings and her boyfriend Xavier saved her from the clutches of Hell itself. But when Jake Thorn returns to town determined to take Beth away with him, it seems he may be able to destroy everything she cares about. Will Jake's actions shatter Beth's faith in love? Or can she overcome heartache and betrayal to fulfil her role on Earth?

Now, because this is a tag, I'm meant to tag someone else to do it, so I'm going to tag Lucy from Queen of Contemporary and Jack from The Book Stop.  But only if you want to, guys! :)

Have you read any of the books mentioned in this blog post?

Summarys from Amazon, Goodreads or book covers.
Monday, 1 July 2013

Scissors, Sisters and Manic Panics by Ellie Phillips

Title: Scissors, Sisters and Manic Panics
Author: Ellie Phillips
Published by: Electric Monkey
Publication date: 1st July 2013
Pages: 288
Genres: Young Adult/Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

I was having a bad hair day when this whole thing started.

Everything had been peachy.

I mean, I had a cool boyfriend and I was following my dream to be a top hairdresser.

But that meant working in my Aunt Lilah's salon, which is where it all went wrong and everything in my life just went BANG.

All I did was give someone the hairstyle she never knew she wanted, and suddenly I was out of a Saturday job. Unless I got another one pronto, I could wave goodbye to my life's ambition.

Sadie Nathanson is back, taking on her family and the rest of the world one manic panic at a time. 

'Scissors, Sisters and Manic Panics' is the sequel to 'Dads, Geeks and Blue Haired Freaks'. Don't you just love the titles?! Anyway, I really enjoyed reading the first book last year so when this arrived in the post I was seriously happy. Reading it required me staying up until 1am the night before an exam... it's a good book, okay?

Sadie is one of my favourite female characters ever. She is funny, crazy and sassy and she never failed to make me laugh out loud. This book is mainly about Sadie's love for hair and hairdressing, which I am not particularly interested in, but her passion showed and it was actually really fun to read.

There were lots of sub-plots, but not too many so it didn't get confusing. I felt sorry for Sadie so many times, but she stayed strong and that's a really good feature in a female character. A lot of YA books have female characters that are portrayed as stupid and worthless so it's really great to see a main character like Sadie.

The cover is really interesting, too! It stands out well and if I saw it in a book shop, I would definitely be intrigued. It goes well with 'Dads, Geeks and Blue Haired Freaks', too, which is always a bonus.

This is a fun, happy read and one of those good books that you can escape into easily. 5/5!