Friday, 27 February 2015

Blog Tour: Thoughtful by S.C. Stephens

Published by: Little, Brown Book Group
Release date: 24th February 2015
Series:  Thoughtless 1.5

I got it from: Netgalley
Goodreads summary:

Every story has two sides, and in this new book, the epic love story between Kiera and Kellan is shown through his eyes.

All Kellan Kyle needs is his guitar, and some clean sheets of paper. Growing up in a house that was far from a home, he learned a hard lesson: You're worthless. Now his life is comfortably filled with passionate music, loyal band mates, and fast women...until he meets her.

Kiera makes him ache for more. Makes him feel for the first time that he's worth more. But there's one problem - she's his best friend's girl.

Just when Kellan thought his emotional defenses were rock solid, Kiera's indecisive heart wreaks havoc on his soul, changing him forever. Losing Kiera is not an option.

My Review:
Wow, that was an emotional rollercoaster ride of a book. I feel like I need a week off from reading to recover from it! Okay, so for starters you should know that I haven't actually read Thoughtless, Kiera's side of the story. However I've been assured that Thoughtful can be read as a standalone, and after reading it I have to agree - Kellan's story works really well on its own, and after reading it I'm not actually sure if I want to know Kiera's side of things - a lot of the time I really wanted to scream at the girl. Now I know there a lot of huge fans of this series who may not like my review but please imagine you've never come across any of Stephens' work before, then read on.

I've never been in love with two people, and I really hope I never am, because it sounds horrific. I'm not usually a fan of love triangles in books - so many are shoehorned in just for the sake of it - but this is the love triangle to end all love triangles, and as it's basically what the whole book is about I can't argue with it.

It took me a few chapters to really get into Kellan, but once I did I really fell for him. I have to say, I thought he sounded a bit girly to start with, but the more I got to know him the more I liked him. Stephens does a brilliant job of bringing to life this deep, tortured soul. He pours out his heart on the pages of this book so many times that you can't help but feel for him. He certainly makes a compelling book-boyfriend. I love a guy who isn't afraid to cry and admit how he feels. I felt for Denny too, but he doesn't get much page time as a character. It was actually Kellan's band-mate Evan who was the main side-character for me. I really want to get that guy's story, so I might just have to get the next book in the series to see if I get to find out more about him.

This is a long book, and in no way is it an easy read. There's a heck of a lot of angst in those pages, though it is tempered by some smokin' hot scenes. Stephens is definitely one of those writers who throws all the feels at you - she makes you feel EVERYTHING along with Kellan. And that's a whole lot of feelings. Don't go near this book if you're recovering from a recent heartbreak, you might not recover from it. I'm in a happy relationship and I had to steel my heart against this book and not let it affect my mood to much for the sake of my poor real-life boyfriend. Whether you've read Thoughtless or not, wrap a duvet around your heart and dive in - it's not always fun but it is an amazing read.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

UKYA Review: Mind Games by Teri Terry

Published by: Orchard Books/Hachette Childrens
Release date: 5th March 2015
Series:  n/a

I got it from: Netgalley
Goodreads summary: 

Luna is a no-hoper with a secret: in a world of illusion, she can see what is real. But can she see the truth before it is too late?

Luna has always been able to exist in virtual and real worlds at the same time, a secret she is warned to keep. She hides her ability by being a Refuser: excluded by choice from the virtual spheres others inhabit. But when she is singled out for testing, she can’t hide any longer.

The safest thing to do would be to fail, to go back to a dead-end life, no future. But Luna is starting to hope for something better, and hope is a dangerous thing...

My Review:
Where to start? This is an incredible book. As always, Terry has created a world so complete that it's hard to believe it's not real. In Mind Games, it's a world of the future, where virtual reality has become the norm. Kids are taught via virtual lessons, they meet and date in virtual rooms, they spend all their free time playing in virtual worlds. Adults work in virtual offices, their bodies held in a life support system. But Luna is a Refuser. Her mother died because of the virtual world, her Nan insists she should stay away from it, and every time she tries to enter it she feels sick and disorientated. When Luna is selected for intelligence and rationality testing, with a chance to go to university and get a good job, but also a chance at being marked as irrational and put under watch for the rest of her life, she discovers that all is not as it seems in the virtual world.

That's a pretty basic premise. I could write pages of it to be honest, because Terry's world is so complex and there is so much going on. Yet despite all this, she somehow still manages to make Mind Games an easy book to read. It's just a lot more interesting and fulfilling than a lot of the fluff out there. Be ready for scientific and political questioning, in fact pretty much everything will end up in question. At the same time, Luna is a girl coming of age, dealing with a difficult family life, being persecuted for her beliefs and trying to discover who she really is. Then introduce a doctor who seems good but might be evil, a boy with a whole ton of secrets and a flirty smile, and a whole secret world. Mind Games is a brilliant read that will make you think.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

UKYA Review: Mary Hades by Sarah Dalton

Published by: Entangled Teen
Release date: 4th May 2014
Series:  Mary Hades #1

I got it from: Netgalley
Goodreads summary: 

Not many seventeen year old girls have a best friend who’s a ghost, but then Mary Hades isn’t your average teenager.

Scarred physically and mentally from a fire, her parents decide a holiday to an idyllic village in North Yorkshire will help her recover. Nestled in the middle of five moors, Mary expects to have a boring week stuck in a caravan with her parents. Little does she know, evil lurks in the campsite…

Seth Lockwood—a local fairground worker with a dark secret—might be the key to uncovering the murky history that has blighted Nettleby. But Mary is drawn to him in a way that has her questioning her judgement.

Helped by her dead best friend and a quirky gay Goth couple, Mary must stop the unusual deaths occurring in Nettleby. But can she prevent her heart from being broken?

The first in a series of dark YA novels, Mary Hades follows on from the bestselling Kindle Single 'My Daylight Monsters'. A spine-tingling tale with romance, readers will be shocked and entertained in equal measure.

My review:
It's a while since I've read a good ghost story, and I don't thing I've ever had the pleasure of reading a good YA Brit ghost story, so Mary Hades was a delight for me. Set on the windswept moors of North Yorkshire, it's full of atmosphere, spooky as you like and a real page turner. It's also refreshingly British - so good to have a really great addition to the UKYA family.

I don't like comparing books but I know some readers find it helpful, so I will say that this had a bit of a feel of Anna Dressed in Blood to it. Where there are ghosts there will always be comparisons to other books with ghosts, and I think Anna is a pretty good book to be compared to. Strong characters, whether they're corporeal or not; a twisty plot to keep those pages turning; and with healthy doses of both mystery and romance there's something to keep everyone happy. Mary Hades is deep, dark, eerie, mysterious and spine-tinglingly gorgeous - everything a great ghost story should be.

Mary is a wonderful heroine - she's been through a lot but has come out of the other side stronger for it. If you get a chance it's worth reading the novella My Daylight Monsters which is a prequel to Mary Hades, but it's not essential. Dalton does a fine job of explaining everything that's happened so far without any annoying info-dump. Mary is coming to terms with the fact that she can see not just ghosts, but freaky ghouls that seem to appear just before something terrible happens. They might be frightening and horrific but those monsters have saved Mary's life more than once, so she's learning to pay attention to them, despite the fact that they landed her in a mental ward not so long ago. So she's also learning to keep quiet about the things she sees. This includes her best friend Lacey, who happens to be a ghost. 

Mary might be the main character here, but for me it was Lacey who really made the book. She's a bit scary, a bit funny and very loyal - everything you should expect from a spectral best friend. She's not been dead long, and I really want to read the next book to see how she continues coping with her place in the afterlife. This looks to be the start of a very promising new series.