Book Review: All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill

Title: All Our Yesterdays (All Our Yesterdays #1)All Our Yesterdays
Author: Cristin Terrill
Genre: Time Travel, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Young Adult
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date: August 2013 
Pages: 362
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Em is locked in a bare, cold cell with no comforts. Finn is in the cell next door. The Doctor is keeping them there until they tell him what he wants to know. Trouble is, what he wants to know hasn’t happened yet.

Em and Finn have a shared past, but no future unless they can find a way out. The present is torture – being kept apart, overhearing each other’s anguish as the Doctor relentlessly seeks answers. There’s no way back from here, to what they used to be, the world they used to know. Then Em finds a note in her cell which changes everything. It’s from her future self and contains some simple but very clear instructions. Em must travel back in time to avert a tragedy that’s about to unfold. Worse, she has to pursue and kill the boy she loves to change the future.

My Review:

“Time travel isn’t a wonder; it’s an abomination.” 

Finn and Em are trapped as prisoners by the Doctor. Somewhere – some time – everything went wrong. But together they have a chance to change the past to avoid this future.

I adored this book. Time travel is one of those concepts that doesn’t always connect with me but I admired how Cristin Terrill approached the idea. Travelling back, having two of one person in a certain time, was never confusing in this novel. Em, Finn, Marina and James are all well-rounded characters. Em is world wise and I really liked how her personality contrasted with the somewhat sheltered Marina. Finn is the same and yet different in his past and present forms and James is interesting. I found myself enjoying how oblivious and vague he was regarding Marina.

The time travel in this book is easy to grasp. There is  a changing in point of view from Em to Marina and back however for the most part of this novel events happen in the present time. There’s no confusion as to what is happening to whom and when. I loved the ideas in this book. It’s a cereal for dinner kind of book – the kind where instead of stopping to make a meal you just eat something easy and able to eat with one hand (so you can hold the book with your other hand)! There are a lot of twists and turns but they progressed in a way that felt natural and not just added to create some faux suspense. Em and Finn have some great chemistry and do a great job at moving the story along. There’s some heart-break and moments when I really felt for the characters and the trouble Terrill put them though. One of the things that stuck with me throughout this book and well after reading it was how much I liked Em loving Marina. I think it’s lovely that throughout it all, Em saw that she was a person worth loving and was proud of herself as a person.

This book works perfectly as a stand alone and I’m interested and surprised that All Our Yesterdays is the first book in a series. I can’t wait to see what Ms. Terrill comes up with next to put her characters through. This book has been one of my favourite reads of 2013 and I highly recommend it to lovers of well writing and interesting young adult novels.

Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for the review copy

Purchase the novel from:

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Blog Tour: Captivate by Vanessa Garden

Button-long_captivate_final

Happy Friday the Thirteenth! On this very auspicious day I’m very honoured to be a part of the Harlequin Teen Australia blog tour for Vanessa Garden’s debut novel. Captivate. The cover is gorgeous and the book is a great read. Hope you enjoy my review and character spotlight on Miranda! 🙂

Title: CaptivateCaptivate
Author: Vanessa Garden
Genre: Mermaids, Paranormal, Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Date Published: January 2014
Pages: 304
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
In a glittering underwater world, nothing is as it seems…

For the past twelve months since her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old Miranda Sun has harboured a dark secret — a secret that has strained the close relationship she once shared with her older sister, Lauren. In an effort to repair this broken bond, Miranda’s grandparents whisk the siblings away on a secluded beach holiday. Except before Miranda gets a chance to confess her life-changing secret, she’s dragged underwater by a mysterious stranger while taking a midnight swim.

Awakening days later, Miranda discovers that she’s being held captive in a glittering underwater city by an arrogant young man named Marko…the King of this underwater civilisation.

Nineteen-year-old Marko intends to marry Miranda in order to keep his crown from falling into the sinister clutches of his half-brother, Damir. There’s only one problem. Miranda is desperate to return home to right things with her sister and she wants nothing to do with Marko. Trying to secure her freedom, Miranda quickly forms an alliance with Robbie — Marko’s personal guard. However, she soon discovers that even underwater, people are hiding dangerous secrets…

My Review:

A few days before the first anniversary of her parents’ death – and her seventeenth birthday – Miranda, her older sister Lauren and their grandparents holiday at their beach side shack on Bob’s Bay to try and escape. But during a midnight swim with Lauren, Miranda gets taken. Waking up in a mysterious place, Miranda is determined to get back to her family and her life. But a break out is not an option because Miranda has been taken to an underwater city known as Marin and she’s a very valuable asset. King Marko needs Miranda to save the city from his enemies and isn’t likely to let her go any time soon. Miranda’s only hope of escape is to hope that Robbie, the King’s personal guard, best friend and the very person who took Miranda in the first place, will help her return to her family. But with the dangers lurking below and Marin’s version of a sun memorizing her into forgetting her past, Miranda might be captive and captivated in Marin forever…

It took me a little while to get into this book and some time to warm to Miranda but once I did I loved getting to experience the world of Marin. The world building is one of its strengths and I thoroughly enjoyed learning as Miranda did about day to day life and the origins of the incredible underwater city. Whilst the citizens are not mermaids, I still liked the mermaid elements that we got to see.

Miranda is a character that I grew to like very much. Her bold personality and brave actions made her interesting to read and I wanted things to go right for her. She didn’t give up nor did she let her capture define or defeat her. I thought that she coped with her situation incredibly well. Her relationships with King Marko, Robbie and the other people of Marin were fascinating. I didn’t feel entirely convinced by the romance that bloomed between Marko and Miranda mostly because of the pacing but I do think they are a promising couple.

Captivate is a great start to what promises to be an interesting series. There are characters with some secrets and not entirely clear motivations, handsome love interests and a world that is nothing quite like any that I’ve read before. I’m glad I got to read this novel by Vanessa Garden and after the ending in Captivate am eagerly awaiting another instalment of Miranda’s Marin adventures.

Thanks to Harlequin Teen Australia for the review copy

Purchase the novel from:

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Character Spotlight!

Name: Miranda Sun

Nickname: Randy

Birth date: January 13th, 

Age: 16 (turns 17 during Captivate)

Appearance: Long chocolate brown hair, 

Family: Lauren (older sister), Nana and Pop (grandparents). Parents died on Miranda’s 16th birthday in a car accident. 

Personality: Miranda is brave, stubborn and determined. She believes she is dangerous to everyone she loves. She’s fiercely loyal and a fighter who will do what she can to protect her loved ones. 

Other Interesting Facts: 

• Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is her favourite book

• Can appreciate beauty of Marin despite her captivity there

• Feels inferior compared to her sister, Lauren, and lives in her shadow

• Is not the most graceful dancer

• Feels responsible for her parents’ death.

AUTHOR BIO

Vanessa Garden

A bookseller and Young Adult author, Vanessa loves nothing more than immersing herself in the exciting world of books. When she is not raving about her favourite reads with customers, or mentally casting actors to play the characters in her next novel, she enjoys hanging out with those she loves most.

Vanessa is represented by Helen Breitwieser of Cornerstone Literary Agency.

Author Links:

Book Review: Angelfall by Susan Ee

Angelfall (Penryn and the End of Days, #1)

Title: Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days #1)
Author: Susan Ee
Genre: Angels. Dystopia, Young Adult, Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: May 2013 (first published May 2011)
Pages: 325
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
It’s been six weeks since the angels of the apocalypse destroyed the world as we know it. Only pockets of humanity remain.

Savage street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night.

When angels fly away with a helpless girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back…

My Review:

Angels have descended down to earth but they’re not the heavenly creatures people may have expected. Ruthless and lacking any trace of humanity, the Angels are ruling the world and treating humans no better than animals. When an angel takes her little sister Paige, Penryn plans to do the unthinkable. She wants to go into the Angels’ aerie – their home base – to save her. With an injured angel, Raffe, as her guide, Penryn tempts fate to save Paige and bring what’s left of her family back together.

I can understand why this book was an Internet phenomenon. Penryn is such a strong character. The angels have ruined the world. Millions are dead, modern civilisation all but demolished but there are still a few humans left struggling to exist in this new angel ruled world. In a post-apocalypse California, Penryn has been learning how to survive and taking over the parent role in her family. Her mother can not be relied upon for anything and has some strange ideas. But Paige keeps Penryn from getting too serious. Paige, although in a wheelchair after an incident when she was younger, would give up everything she had to help someone else. Penryn needs her little sister and when she’s taken, Penryn risks life and a fate worse than death to bring Paige back.

This is a book with a quest, deadly angels, magical weapons and characters I adored. Penryn is intelligent and focused – if not a little too single mindedly obsessed – with getting her sister back. The angels are ruthless and I loved how different they were from how I usually imagine angels. These angels are beautiful and breathtakingly formidable. They murder humans and think nothing of it. But they’re not invincible. They have politics of their own and a hierarchy that may not be as stable as the humans may believe. I liked Raffe the angel. He’s every bit as intimidating as his fellow angels but due to circumstances beyond his control he finds himself having to rely on a human. The dynamic of Penryn and Raffe was great to read and I enjoyed the lack of an overt romantic relationship between the two.

I really enjoyed this book and for me it lived up to the hype. The gorgeous cover, brilliant take on angels and a heroine who I wanted to read more about. The second book in the series, World After, was released a few weeks ago and I can’t wait to immerse myself once more in Penryn’s world.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Looking For Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: February 2013 (first published March 2005)
Pages: 272
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter’s whole existence has been one big nonevent, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave the “Great Perhaps” (François Rabelais, poet) even more. Then he heads off to the sometimes crazy, possibly unstable, and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed-up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young, who is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart.

After. Nothing is ever the same.

My Review:

“If people were rain I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”

Miles Halter seeks to find his “Great Perhaps”. Deciding that he isn’t going to find it in Florida, he makes the decision to leave his family home and go to Culver Creek Boarding School, his dad’s alma mater, in Alabama. It’s there that Miles finds a nickname, a prank master room-mate and a girl named Alaska Young. She’s wonderful and terrible, together and yet falling apart and Miles can’t help but fall in love with her. Before Culver Creek everything was boring and mundane but that was before Alaska.

This is one of those books that I’ve heard a lot about and because of that I was a little intimidated but I quickly found myself engrossed in Miles’ story. I enjoy reading John Green’s style. His characters are quirky and enjoyable. Miles, the narrator, is bland in comparison to his new friends but has some eccentricities of his own. Reading biographies of famous authors but never reading their novels himself – I loved that. I found myself able to relate to him on many levels and liked his commentary about life at Culver Creek.

Alaska Young is a great love interest – especially considering she is not the typical leading lady. She’s bold and impulsive with a boyfriend she’s in love with and wouldn’t cheat on. Her enthusiasm for pranks and getting Miles a girlfriend is contagious. Her relationships with The Colonel, Miles. Takumi and Lara contrasted with each other nicely and by the end of the book I felt like I knew her well and not at all both at the same time.

I love books set in boarding schools and I did like the antics of the Weekday Warriors and other boarders at Culver Creek. Pranks, sports and contraband are all a part of day-to-day life at the school and they were all highlighted in a way that made me feel at home with them and made Miles’ experience at Culver Creek feel authentic.  The pacing was great with each section being preceded with days preceding and after. Taking place over Miles’ junior year of high school, it was spaced out and managed to include all those important American high school things – like midterms and Thanksgiving.

Looking for Alaska is a great read however it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Amazing characters – this is definitely a book that I liked for characters first, plot second and I had a great time living in Miles’ world with him whilst he searched for his “Great Perhaps”.

My Favourite Quotes:

“It always shocked me when I realized that I wasn’t the only person in the world who thought and felt such strange and awful things.” 

“Sometimes you lose a battle. But mischief always wins the war” 

“I just did some calculations and I’ve been able to determine that you’re full of shit.” 

“We were kissing.
I thought: This is good.
I thought: I am not bad at this kissing. Not bad at all.
I thought: I am clearly the greatest kisser in the history of the universe.
Suddenly she laughed and pulled away from me. She wiggled a hand out of her sleeping bag and wiped her face. “You slobbered on my nose,” she said, and laughed” 

 

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Book Review: A Wicked Kind of Dark by Jonathan K Benton

A Wicked Kind of Dark

Title: A Wicked Kind of Dark (The Minaea Chronicles #1)
Author: Jonathan K Benton
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, 
Publisher: Odyssey Books
Publication Date: September 2013
Pages: 267
Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Robert Duncan no longer believes in magic. A mysterious call about a blood moon, however, leads him back to the magical world of his childhood and to Luthien, the beautiful girl with flame-coloured hair, who he loved and lost.

As Robert unravels the secrets of his childhood, darkness enters his life and an ancient evil awakens. To have any chance of defeating the dark forces that would destroy two worlds, Robert must find Luthien before the rise of the blood moon. He must, once more, believe in magic …

A Wicked Kind of Dark mixes vast and spectacular fantasy landscapes with gritty urban reality. A must-read for people of all ages who believe in the power of imagination, and the importance of never losing touch with your inner child

My Review:

It starts with a phone call, mysterious graffiti and a name. Luthien.

Robert Duncan can’t remember six months of his life after his parents died in a tragic house fire. One day he gets a phone call from a woman screaming at him to help Luthien before it’s too late – the only problem is that Robert has never heard the name before… or maybe he has. Robert sees a painting of a beautiful flame-haired girl and knows instinctively that it’s her. The girl he’s supposed to save – his Luthien. With the help of Dennis and Arthur – former alcoholics who have been shown the way by The Sparkling Man – Robert starts to question the Winter of No Content, as he calls his half-year period of amnesia. Who is Luthien to him and why is Robert the only one who can save her?

Conceptually I loved this book. There’s a lot of mystery mixed in with a great dose of fantasy. The ideas of the twin souls and distant realms to be travelled to through the power of the mind are incredible. The world of Minaea and the creatures who inhabit it are interesting and remind me of other fantasy kingdoms I’ve read before – in a good way. I liked the adventure Robert went on and how the plot developed as the story went on. I enjoyed Benton’s use of language to paint the scene. I adored his use of colour at the start of chapter one.

Where this book falls down for me is whilst I liked the ideas, I found it fell down a little in terms of execution. There were many times when I found myself slightly confused as to exactly who certain characters were. I also think that Robert felt a little old – his ability to instantly believe the impossible felt more appropriate for the young boy he had been prior the Winter of No Content rather than the young man on the verge of adulthood that he is in present day. That aside – this is a great read.

A Wicked Kind of Dark is an interesting read with fantasy elements that also touches on social issues like homelessness and alcoholism. A great debut for author Jonathan K Benton, this first book of the Minaea Chronicles offers fantasy lovers an exciting read with fantastic ideas.

 

Thanks to Odyssey Books for the review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein

Title: Dear Cassie
Author: Lisa Burstein (twitter: @LisaBurstein)
Genre: contemporary romance; realistic fiction;
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: 5th March 2013
Pages: 352 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
What if the last place you should fall in love is the first place that you do?

You’d think getting sent to Turning Pines Wilderness Camp for a month-long rehabilitation “retreat” and being forced to re-live it in this journal would be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

You’d be wrong.

There’s the reason I was sent to Turning Pines in the first place: I got arrested. On prom night. With my two best friends, who I haven’t talked to since and probably never will again. And then there’s the real reason I was sent here. The thing I can’t talk about with the guy I can’t even think about.

What if the moment you’ve closed yourself off is the moment you start to break open?

But there’s this guy here. Ben. And the more I swear he won’t—he can’t—the deeper under my skin he’s getting. After the thing that happened, I promised I’d never fall for another boy’s lies.

And yet I can’t help but wonder…what if?

My Review:

Dear Cassie is a companion novel to Lisa Burstein’s debut, Pretty Amy however you don’t need to have read Amy’s story in order to enjoy Dear Cassie.

Cassie Wick is struggling to deal with the fallout from the Prom Night disaster. Faced with jail time or a month-long stint at a rehabilitation camp for rebellious and troublesome teens – Cassie chooses thirty days at Turning Pines Wilderness Camp. Her criminal record is not the only problem Cassie’s facing. An unplanned pregnancy and a boy who may have just been using her to cover his own behind. And now there’s Ben. Ben Claire – the type of boy you can tell is a drummer in a band and considering how they met – Cassie just knows that he has got to have as many issues as she does.

I loved Cassie in Pretty Amy. But after reading her own story I fell even harder. She’s not pretty. She’s angry and frustrated, scared and confused. But she’s real. And at Turning Pines with only fellow “inmates”, the wilderness and her journal for company – there’s nowhere to hide from her thoughts. Her regrets. Stubborn and hurt, Cassie’s story was one that I loved reading. I couldn’t put it down and read it in one sitting. She’s such an engaging narrator. The hurt, confusing and feeling that there’s no way out that Cassie experiences is something that I think every teen can related to in some way or another.

The relationships in this novel were such a pleasure to read. From the bizarre room-mates Nez and Troyer to the counsellors – they all added that element of realism to Cassie’s story. Even the often mentioned but never seen Tim. I loved wanting to know what happened next and how Cassie would react next. And then there’s Ben. He may not be a conventional romantic lead but there was something very engaging about him. He’s sweet in the oddest way. There’s one romantic gesture (you know the one if you’ve read the book!) that on one hand is the most crazy and ridiculous thing ever but on the other – it’s the kind that makes my heart happy.

My favourite books are the ones where the characters grow. They learn from their past and they try. Try to be better even when thing seem their most dire. And this book satisfied me in the best way. Cassie grew. By the end of the novel she’s not the same person who first entered Turning Pines. And I loved that about her.

Dear Cassie is a beautiful novel about regret and trying to move on. Realistic characters with heart and engaging stories, this is a novel that is both relate able and powerful.

 

Thanks to Netgalley and Entangled Teen for providing me with a review copy.

Purchase the novel from:

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Book Review: Pretty Amy by Lisa Burstein

Title: Pretty Amy (Pretty Amy #1)
Author: Lisa Burstein (twitter: @LisaBurstein)
Genre: contemporary romance; realistic fiction;
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: 8th May 2012
Pages: 352  pages
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
Amy is fine living in the shadows of beautiful Lila and uber-cool Cassie, because at least she’s somewhat beautiful and uber-cool by association. But when the girls get stood up for prom and take matters into their own hands—earning them a night in jail outfitted in satin, stilettos, and Spanx — Amy discovers even a prom spent in handcuffs might be better than the humiliating “rehabilitation techniques” now filling up her summer. Even worse, with Lila and Cassie parentally banned, Amy feels like she has nothing — like she is nothing.

Navigating unlikely alliances with her new coworker, two very different boys, and possibly even her parents, Amy struggles to decide if it’s worth being a best friend when it makes you a public enemy. Bringing readers along on an often hilarious and heartwarming journey, Amy finds that maybe getting a life only happens once you think your life is over.

My Review:

Being arrested on Prom Night and subsequently suspended from her last few weeks of high school is now how Amy Fleishman expected to be finishing her senior year. But after getting stood up and a prank gone wrong, that’s exactly the predicament Amy and her two best friends (Gorgeous Lila and Sassy Cassie) find themselves in.

It surprised me that I took an instant dislike to Amy – I don’t even know what it was about her that rubbed me up the wrong way. That said it didn’t take long for her to grow on me. She’s confused and holding on to her popularity vicariously though her friends. But when they drop her – she’s all alone and facing a criminal conviction. There were times that her actions confused me and almost had me yelling at her but deep down she’s just a girl who made some wrong decisions. She’s very much a blank canvas as the start. Her opinions and thoughts are those of her friends but when cut off from her social network she needs to find herself. And despite a few missed turns and detours I loved the Amy who was found at the end of this book.

This is a novel that’s character driven with most of the action being conversations people are having with Amy or her own thoughts. I loved the characters. Most of them I’m glad are fictional and I never have to ever have the misfortune of meeting in person but I loved how they interacted with Amy and the parts they played in her story. Joe, Conner and Cassie (and AJ!) were my favourites for different reasons. I even liked Amy’s mother – I feel like she’s a good woman who’s been put in a difficult situation that not even Dr. Phil would be able to help her out with. So she tries as hard as she can to try to get her family though as best she can.

Over all this book is nothing like I thought it would be. It’s better. Pretty Amy tells the story of a good girl who has not truly gone bad but just doesn’t know how to get her life back on track.

I’m delighted to see there’s a novella to see what happens to Amy next (The Next Forever) and a novel devoted to Cassie (Dear Cassie).

 

Purchase the novel from:

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