Event: Laini Taylor Signing – Cardiff

Events

As part of the book tour to publicise her new book Strange the Dreamer, Laini Taylor is coming to CARDIFF!!!!!

Laini Taylor Signing

Received from Publisher

STRANGE THE DREAMER

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around— and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

Strange the Dreamer

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Book Trailer: Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes

Trailer

Looking for a good villian – look no further!!!

Queen of Hearts

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Title: Queen of Hearts
Series: Queen of Hearts Saga #1
Author: Colleen Oakes
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: May 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads

Only queens with hearts can bleed.

This is not the story of the Wonderland we know. Alice has not fallen down a rabbit hole. There is no all-knowing cat with a taunting smile. This is a Wonderland where beneath each smile lies a secret, each tart comes with a demand, and only prisoners tell the truth.

Dinah is the princess who will one day reign over Wonderland. She has not yet seen the dark depths of her kingdom; she longs only for her father’s approval and a future with the boy she loves. But when a betrayal breaks her heart and threatens her throne, she is launched into Wonderland’s dangerous political game. Dinah must stay one step ahead of her cunning enemies or she’ll lose not just the crown but her head.

Evil is brewing in Wonderland and maybe, most frighteningly, in Dinah herself.

This is not a story of happily ever after.

This is the story of the Queen of Hearts.

Book Trailer: Charlotte Holmes by Brittany Cavallaro

Trailer

ARE YOU HAVING SHERLOCK WITHDRAWAL THEN TRY THE CHARLOTTE HOLMES SERIES BY BRITTANY CAVALLARO

A Study in Charlotte

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Title: A Study in Charlotte
Series: Charlotte Holmes #1
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Publication Date: March 2016

Synopsis from Goodreads

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

The Last of August

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Title: The Last of August
Series: Charlotte Holmes #2
Author: Brittany Cavallaro
Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Publication Date: Feb 2017

Synopsis from Goodreads

Watson and Holmes: A match made in disaster.

Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes are looking for a winter-break reprieve after a fall semester that almost got them killed. But Charlotte isn’t the only Holmes with secrets, and the mood at her family’s Sussex estate is palpably tense. On top of everything else, Holmes and Watson could be becoming more than friends—but still, the darkness in Charlotte’s past is a wall between them.

A distraction arises soon enough, because Charlotte’s beloved uncle Leander goes missing from the estate—after being oddly private about his latest assignment in a German art forgery ring. The game is afoot once again, and Charlotte is single-minded in her pursuit.

Their first stop? Berlin. Their first contact? August Moriarty (formerly Charlotte’s obsession, currently believed by most to be dead), whose powerful family has been ripping off famous paintings for the last hundred years. But as they follow the gritty underground scene in Berlin to glittering art houses in Prague, Holmes and Watson begin to realize that this is a much more complicated case than a disappearance. Much more dangerous, too.

What they learn might change everything they know about their families, themselves, and each other.

Review: Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

Review
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Title: Daughters Unto Devils
Author: Amy Lukavics
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: Oct 2015
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Sometimes I believe the baby will never stop crying.

Sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner fears she is losing her mind. When her family move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, Amanda hopes she can leave her haunting memories behind: of her sickly Ma giving birth to a terribly afflicted baby; of the cabin fever that claimed Amanda’s sanity; of the boy who she has been meeting in secret…

But the Verners arrive on the prairie to find their new home soaked in blood. So much blood. And Amanda has heard stories – about men becoming unhinged and killing their families, about the land being tainted by wickedness. With guilty secrets weighing down on her, Amanda can’t be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or within her soul…

REVIEW BY LILY – YEAR 10

When reading the synopsis of this book I automatically fell in love, I am such a lover of horror books! Usually I wouldn’t read books that were set in a historical period, but this book I mainly enjoyed.

The story follows the Verner family and one daughter in particular. Amanda is a 16 year old girl who has been scarred from the events of last winter, when her mother fell ill and gave birth to her deaf and blind baby sister, Hannah. But something else happened to Amanda last winter, and throughout the story Amy Lukavics gives us details about what happened to Amanda to leave her in the state she is currently in.

The Verner family decides to move from the small cabin in the mountains the family shared to a bigger one in the prairie,  forcing Amanda to leave the boy behind she has been meeting in secret, and try to leave behind the memory of last winter. But when the family arrive to their dream cabin, they are horrified to find that inside the cabin is covered with blood. The thoughts of the cabin and the memories of last winter cause Amanda to be scared of her own sanity, worrying that one day she might hurt the ones she love, especially Hannah, who she has been secretly praying for her death.

Before reading the book, I decided to read a few reviews. This isn’t normally what I would do, but since Daughters Unto Devils isn’t the type of book I would normally read, I decided to see what other people thought about it. The reviews that I read were very positive, giving me a positive attitude when starting the book.

I didn’t particularly like the book at the start, it had a few adult themes, and already not being the type of book I would read, my optimism started to fade. But, after reading on I began to enjoy it, and by the end I was completely hooked.

Some parts of the book were predictable, but that didn’t stop excitement. Amy Lukavics drew you in with curiosity by slowly giving you clues as to what really happened to Amanda last winter that claimed her sanity, making her a danger to her family. When I finally found out what happened to Amanda, it didn’t exactly make my jaw drop but did put together all the clues that Amy Lukavics dropped throughout the story.

I loved all the characters, all of their personalities and relationships were explained well and thankfully there were no pointless characters, all of them contributed well to the storyline.

Adding onto my previous comment about relationships, one part of the book I especially liked was the relationship between Amanda and her younger sister, Emily. The relationships adds texture to the story, and a feeling of comfort to see two sisters become so close. Family is very important to me, and to see a sisterly bond so strong in a book makes me warm even more  to the story.

Amy Lukavics is an extremely skilled writer, I would definitely read another book of hers. Although one problem that ran throughout the story was the description of events, and the way she set the scenes. The scenes were described well, and I always knew what was going on, yet there still was something missing from scenes that really had potential to make my jaw drop and haunt me even when I put the book down. For example, when Amanda and her family found that their dream cabin was drenched with blood, the scene really had the potential to be a thrilling horror scene, yet Amy Lukavics didn’t use her writing skills to make the scene stand out as a key horror scene. She could have chosen key objects, thoughts or feelings and use these to build up the tension and drama of the scene.

Considering all of these factors, I would give Daughters Unto Devils a star rating of ⅗, I absolutely loved it, but there still were a few things that could have been written slightly differently. I would definitely recommend this book to friends, especially fellow horror lovers like myself, despite the description problems, this book is still a thriller and I am not surprised that many people have enjoyed it.

Review: A Hollow in the Hills by Ruth Frances Long

Review
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Title: A Hollow in the Hills
Series: Dubh Linn #2
Author: Ruth Frances Long
Publisher: O’Brien Press
Publication Date: Sept 2015
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 3/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

The sequel to A Crack in Everything. When an ancient and forbidden power is unleashed, Izzy, who is still coming to terms with her newfound powers, must prevent a war from engulfing Dublin and the fae realm of Dubh Linn. But by refusing to sacrifice Jinx – fae warrior and her ‘not-really-ex’ – Izzy sets in motion a chain of events which will see them hunted across the city and into the hills where she’ll face the greatest challenge of all.

REVIEW BY LILY – YEAR 10

I absolutely love anything to do with angels, demons, or anything supernatural! I was so excited to start this book, but I struggled to really get into the story as I hadn’t read the first book.

A Hollow In The Hills follows on from the first book of the series, A Crack In Everything. Following the events of the previous summer, it is set in late October in Dublin. The story is told in the third person, yet still through the eyes of three people, Izzy, Jinx, and Dylan.

In the first book Izzy is told about another world hidden within Dublin called Dubh Linn, home to Fae and Fae warriors like Jinx and that she has hidden powers as her father is a Grigori and her birth mother is the powerful matriarch of a hollow .

In A Hollow In The Hills, Izzy is still coming to terms with her power, and is quickly faced with the task of stopping a war between Demons, Angels, The Dead, and Holly, a previous matriarch that turned evil.

As I hadn’t read the first book, I found this book really difficult to get into and to understand what was happening. As soon as I started the book, I was faced with so many names of creatures and of places such as Sidhe and Eochaid (which after realising there was a pronunciation dictionary at the back of the book, I  had been pronouncing them wrong the whole time). After a few chapters, I started to piece together what happened before October, and soon understood what was happening. But I still just couldn’t get into the story. I’m not sure why, looking back on the characters and the story it doesn’t seem that bad, but I just got bored throughout the book and felt as if it dragged on in some places.

The descriptive writing was good, I could easily picture what the characters and scenes looked like. I knew exactly how the main characters felt and Ruth Frances Long really drew you in and made you feel as if you were in the characters shoes.

I loved all the characters and their personalities. My favorite character was Silver, I love how she was shy to such an important role yet soon became a powerful matriarch and became courageous and brave. I love how she was portrayed, her personality, and she would do anything for the ones she loves.

The only character I found pointless was Clodagh. As much as she was a nice character, I found that she didn’t contribute anything to the storyline and when she was first involved in the fae world, she was annoying and dragged the story on too much as she had to know everything that had happened.

As a star rating I would give this book a 3, as much as I loved the story line and the characters, I still found the book dragged on and was really difficult to get into the story. I probably would recommend this book to a friend, as long as they read the first book first.  

Book to Film: 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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13 Reasons Why

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Title: 13 Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Publisher: Penguin UK
Publication Date: Sept 2009

Synopsis from Goodreads

You can’t stop the future.

You can’t rewind the past.

The only way to learn the secret is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home to find a strange package with his name on it. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and first love – who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

Hannah’s voice explains there are thirteen reasons why she killed herself. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

All through the night, Clay keeps listening – and what he discovers changes his life… forever.

DON’T MISS THIS NETFLIX ORIGINAL SERIES BASED ON THE BOOK!!!

Book Trailer: Worthy by Donna Cooner

Trailer

Here is a new one for our Social Media in Young Adult Literature book list released today.

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Title: Worthy
Author: Donna Cooner
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: 28 March 2017

Synopsis from Goodreads

Download the app. Be the judge.

Everyone at Linden’s high school is obsessed with Worthy. It’s this new app that posts pictures of couples, and asks: Is the girl worthy of the guy?

Suddenly, relationships implode as the votes climb and the comments get real ugly real fast.

At first, Linden is focused on other things. Like cute Alex Rivera. Prom committee. Her writing. But soon she’s intrigued by Worthy. Who’s posting the pictures? Who’s voting? And what will happen when the spotlight turns… on Linden?

How amazing does that look.

Be honest who would use that app? I think it would be pretty addictive.

Anyone else think its like a dating reality show (The Bachelor comes to mind)

Review: Panther by David Owen

Resources, Review
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Title: Panther
Author: David Owen
Publisher: Atom
Publication Date: May 2016
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Life isn’t going terribly well for Derrick; he’s become severely overweight, his only friend has turned on him, he?s hopelessly in love with a girl way out of his league, and it’s all because of his sister. Her depression, and its grip on his family, is tearing his life apart. When rumours start to circulate that a panther is roaming wild in his south London suburb, Derrick resolves to turn capture it. Surely if he can find a way to tame this beast, he’ll be able to stop everything at home from spiraling towards disaster?

Panther is a bold and emotionally powerful novel that deals candidly with the effects of depression on those who suffer from it, and those who suffer alongside them.

REVIEW BY SAM – YEAR 11

‘Can you control a beast you can’t see?’ reads the inscription on the front cover of ‘Panther‘, a  phrase that perfectly captures the mystery, distress and futility of this book. Written by David Owen, a previous sufferer of depression, it is easy to see why such a brutally honest book on the illness as this would earn a place on the Telegraph’s ‘ Best Young Adult Books of 2015’ list, and rightfully so.

The story intimately follows the life of Derrick, a teenage boy who, as well as dealing with his own problems and insecurities, feels his sister’s depression has caused a sense of entrapment in the family household. The tension becomes unbearable to the point of disarray at a time when family stability is vital in order for Charlotte, Derrick’s sister, to complete her exams in the hope of reaching University. It seems this hope is disappearing as Charlotte’s depression continues to manifest. However, a potential solution has arisen. Recent sightings of a black Panther in the area give Derrick the opportunity to not only escape the despair that is such a burden, but, to capture the ‘beast’ that has caused this misery.

For a contemporary piece, I feel this is not a typical narrative as it does not have the pace and excitement of many modern novels. Instead, ‘Panther‘ uses atmosphere to develop the storyline. Through the use of this method, the reader can sense the depression getting progressively worse. Likewise, the reader senses the effect  of Charlotte’s illness on all members of the family, allowing them to sympathise more with the characters. I thought this was very cleverly done and is what sets this book apart from similar novels, many of which draw upon clichés and feel detached or unsentimental.

Despite character development being slow, by the end of the book I felt I had gained insight into Derrick’s life and found I could relate to him. I could understand why he made certain decisions and why capturing the ‘beast’ was so important for him. On the contrary, however, secondary characters such as Hadley and Tamoor appeared inconsistent both in personality and attitude. It would have made more sense to exclude these characters, emphasising the confinement that Derrick feels is bound by his sister’s illness. They do not detract from the quality of the story, but, equally, they do not seem to fit in harmoniously with the surrounding story.

Overall, the book was a poignant read although teetering on the verge of harrowing. The plot was cleverly assembled and coherently written. Normally, I would not consider reading a book of this ilk, nonetheless I can appreciate the quality and complex construction of the story which makes it an enjoyable read. Undoubtedly, ‘Panther‘ will receive much recognition in the Young Adult category.

Recommended age: 14+

Review: The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

Recommendations, Resources, Review
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Title: The Iron Trial
Series: Magisterium #1
Author: Cassandra Clare and Holly Black
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: Sept 2014
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Most people would do anything to get into the Magisterium and pass the Iron Trial. Not Callum Hunt. Call has been told his whole life that he should never trust a magician. And so he tries his best to do his worst — but fails at failing. Now he must enter the Magisterium. It’s a place that’s both sensational and sinister. And Call realizes it has dark ties to his past and a twisty path to his future.

REVIEW BY CERYS – YEAR 9

The Iron Trail is a brilliant, enthralling story which I, for one, could not put down!

It is set in the Magisterium, a magical, underground place where masters of magic train their apprentices in the arts of magic. The plot follows the story of Callum Hunt, a boy with a permanent leg injury, who has grown up being told that magic is never to be trusted. However, when the time came for him to take the test, he even fails at failing. Is magic all that bad? Callum finds out on a journey that will stay with you long after the last page, and make you long for more…

My favourite character is Tamara, because I could empathise with her quite well, and she is very clever, witty, and shrouded in mystery. My favourite part is quite far through the book, so I won’t spoil it for you, but let’s just say, I was laughing for a while. The third person perspective was brilliant, as you could clearly understand what was going on, and I think  a first person point of view from Callum would get really confusing.
Holly Black and Cassandra Clare are both amazing authors. I love the way they created such complex characters, that I could really visualise as people, and the way they wrote about the Magisterium itself, was really quite stunning. Everything made sense, and I loved the ending, which was really unexpected, but entertaining all the same.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed any of Holly Black or Cassandra Clare’s books, or readers of Harry Potter. I hope you really enjoy this wonderful book, and I look forward to seeing the next in the series.

Review: Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

Resources, Review

 

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Title: Extraordinary Means 
Author: Robyn Schneider
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication Date: June 2015
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

A bitter-sweet, coming-of-age novel that’s perfect for fans of John Green and Stephen Chbosky.

When he’s sent to Latham House, a boarding school for sick teens, Lane thinks his life may as well be over.
But when he meets Sadie and her friends – a group of eccentric troublemakers – he realises that maybe getting sick is just the beginning. That illness doesn’t have to define you, and that falling in love is its own cure.

Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about true friendships, ill-fated love and the rare miracle of second chances.

REVIEW BY SOPHIE – YEAR 11

Extraordinary Means chronicles the lives of two teenagers, Lane and Sadie, who fall in love at Latham
House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from incurable tuberculosis. The novel illustrates
how Lane, an overachieving, conscientious student, encounters Sadie a girl he met years
ago who has completely transformed from a shy to fearless and intriguing. Lane is
compelled by Sadie’s group of eccentric, unusual friends and as Lane becomes one of them
he learns the secrets of Latham and a relationship blossoms between them on the brink of
cure to their fatal disease.

The novel adopts an interesting structure as it alternates from Lane’s point of view to
Sadie’s. In this way, we are given insight to the mind’s of both main characters and we thusly
see, through this structural device, how each of them become more integral to the other
person’s lives. Like an unfolding diary, this alternating point of view adds a freshness and
originality to a familiar story and themes. In terms of the characterisation of Lane, he is
depicted to be a very introverted character at the beginning and we see his desire to do well
in school. Yet, as Lane’s relationship with Sadie developes he opens up and Schneider is
able to delve into his opinions more. Sadie is an interesting figure as we see from Lane’s
depiction of her in the past how she has grown and how this illness and being at Latham has
shaped her. The dual narrative allows for the focus of the book to be on their relationship
and I enjoyed the fact had they previously met as this showed how impressions can change
and paths can cross in unusual and unexpected ways and Schneider addresses this later in
the book as he touched upon the seemingly smallest of events can lead to a chain events
that can dramatically shape one’s life. If I were to criticise one aspect of the narrative choice
it would be that sometimes Lane and Sadie were not delineated enough and so it was
possible to lose track of who was narrating chapter it was, but, overall it was an effective
narrative vehicle for this story.

As for the minor characters the most notable are Micheal and Nick. The character of
Nick I found was developed with sensitivity and the look into how he coped with his illness
added another layer to the story. Micheal’s role is of a particular importance in the novel and
without revealing any plot points I will say that his storyline took me by surprise and was
handled in a touching manner that illustrated the fragility of life.

The setting of Latham house was a key feature in the novel as it was integral to the
illustration of how their disease had isolated them from the rest of the world. The beautiful
exterior which was accurately portrayed through Schneider’s imagery contrasted the
physical pain their disease caused for them. However, the insular Latham house allowed for
Lane and Sadie’s love to truly develop which became the focus point of the novel and added
the necessary elements of romance to an otherwise tragic portrayal of those suffering from
an illness.

The plot was fairly straightforward and was lacked any confusing subplots as the
author’s focus was mainly on the love between Sadie and Lane. Schneider was able to
convey the plot with ease and depict these two lovers trapped by their illness and the
ever-present threat of death. The introduction of the cure I felt was a little rushed and felt too
fictional at times, however, the “cure” was used more to examine ideas of death and life
which allowed the author to look into the impermanence of life and how this affected the
characters. Similarly, I particularly liked the author’s ability to use medical ideas and
practises and show them through the eyes of the main characters as this allowed for me as
a reader to empathise with Lane and Sadie. The ending choice was bold and effective as it
underscored the severity of their diseases and their precarious love. Moreover, it ended on a
pensive thought of choosing one’s own path in life with an interesting extended metaphor
that encapsulated the author’s concluding message.

Extraordinary Means can seen as a romance novel with elements of dark comedy.
Schneider presents us with many themes such as the innocence of first love, the
vulnerability of life, friendship and suffering. Schneider also touches upon some existential
questions such as the nature and purpose of pain, the influence of the past, the nature of
love and the possibility of second chances. These ideas are handled with maturity and are a
way of introducing teenager readers to more complex themes and questions.

Overall, Extraordinary Means is poignant look at the effect an illness can have on a
teenager but also the power of first love. The themes are dealt with elegantly and the
relationship between our two protagonists is real and heartfelt. Schneider’s writing style in
unpretentious and is great for those who are interested in character driven novels as
opposed to plot or world building. However, I would parenthesis this by saying that there is
some explicit language and scenes that should be for mature readers due to their sexual
content. In conclusion I would recommend this novel to those who enjoy the likes of John
Green, Stephen Chbosky or even Ernest Hemingway as there are parallels between their
work and this novel. It will make you cry, laugh and consider how we perceive illness and
disease today.