Book Review- The Lost Causes

Thursday, 12 October 2017
Title: The Lost Causes
Author: Alyssa Embree Schwartz & Jessica Koosed Etting
Published: 5th September 2017
Pages: 344
Genre: YA, Mystery, Fantasy

Rating: 3.5/5

Misfits. Outcasts. And the only ones who can find a killer.
They’re the last people you’d ask to help with anything, much less a murder investigation. The rich girl, the obsessive, the hypochondriac, the addict and the hot-tempered athlete—people think they’re beyond help. Lost causes. But where the world sees losers, the FBI sees its only hope.
With the help of a dangerous serum, the FBI erases the teens’ past problems and unlocks a psychic ability within each of them. In return, all they have to do is help find the killer who’s turned their small town upside down.
But as they close in on a suspect, they expose a conspiracy that puts them directly in harm’s way and makes them wonder who—if anyone—they can really trust.
If anything happens to them, will anyone even care?-Goodreads
I received a copy of this novel from Net Galley and Kids Can Press in return for an honest review.
This is a YA novel about a group of teens who are chosen to receive a serum from the FBI that gives them certain psychic/mental powers. The thing that the teens all have in common is that they are all "lost causes" (see what the authors did there?) who have been abandoned by teachers and parents etc.
All the teens have mental or behavioural issues, and they felt very realistically "teenage". The authors have done a good job of capturing the voice of teens.
The authors do a good job of creating a mix of characters for this novel too, and although some of the teenagers felt a little like caricatures at times, overall the characters felt realistic for the high school/teenage setting.
This is a mystery novel, and the mystery was good and it did have some unexpected twists and turns which kept the plot moving and kept the story itself interesting. The mystery was difficult enough to make me want to continue reading the novel, and actually I finished this novel very quickly. 
The novel features a romance between two of the teens which was well written by the authors, it was cute and felt realistic, and provided a nice minor plot line within the main story. However, there is also a romance between one of the teenagers and one of the FBI handlers assigned to look after them. This felt quite inappropriate to me, he was 22 and she 17 so age difference/legality wasn't an issue, it was more the feeling of it being an abuse of his power over her, and it just didn't sit right when I was reading it.
Overall I enjoyed this novel, it is an interesting YA mystery, with some good mental health portrayals. My enjoyment was only slightly dampened by a romance that felt inappropriate.

Book Review- The Border

Thursday, 5 October 2017
Title: The Border
Author: Steve Schafer
Published: 5th September 2017
Pages: 364
Genre: YA, Thriller, Contemporary

Rating: 4/5 stars

One moment changed their lives forever.
A band plays, glasses clink, and four teens sneak into the Mexican desert, the hum of celebration receding behind them.
Crack. Crack. Crack.
Not fireworks―gunshots. The music stops. And Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Gladys are powerless as the lives they once knew are taken from them.
Then they are seen by the gunmen. They run. Except they have nowhere to go. The narcos responsible for their families' murders have put out a reward for the teens' capture. Staying in Mexico is certain death, but attempting to cross the border through an unforgiving desert may be as deadly as the secrets they are trying to escape... -Goodreads
I received a copy of this novel from Net Galley and Sourcebooks Fire in return for an honest review.
I was really intrigued by the premise of this novel, especially as it is written as a Young Adult novel. The book is about 4 Mexican teens crossing the border into the USA to escape a drug cartel who mean to murder them.
With the Mexico/US border featuring in the news recently I thought this was a very topical novel, and also a very clever and sensitive way to draw attention to the border through a young adult novel and through teenage protagonists.
This is a fast paced novel, the action flows pretty much non-stop, and it's a nail biting novel from start to finish. The main characters find themselves in life-threatening situations constantly, and Schafer did a good job of making them feel realistic and tense, but still managed to keep the narrative thread going.
The group of characters that Schafer has created were a fascinating group to read about. They were all individual characters, and Schafer seems to have captured the voice of teenagers well, which can be tricky in YA.
The only aspect of the novel I wasn't so keen on was the elements of romance that the author included. It felt baseless and seemed to appear out of nowhere simply to tick the "romance box" in the novel. It also irritated me that the only female main character was included in this romance, it suggested to me that she had only been included to be this romantic interest to another character.
Overall I thought this was a pretty good YA novel about a subject I have never read about, and actually know very little about.

My September Anticipated Releases!!

Wednesday, 30 August 2017
There are loads of great books out in September in the UK, which is a problem for me because Uni begins and I just know that I'm going to have no time to read! Never mind, I'm still really excited for them all!

Odd & True- Cat Winters

I, Eliza Hamilton- Susan Holloway Scott

The Lost Causes- Jessica Koosed Etting & Alyssa Embree Schwartz

This Side of Murder- Anna Lee Huber

Daughter of the Burning City- Amanda Foody

The Border- Steve Schafer

American War- Omar El Akkad

Alex and Eliza- Melissa de la Cruz

Book Review- The Sixteen Trees of the Somme

Tuesday, 29 August 2017
Title: The Sixteen Trees of the Somme
Author: Lars Mytting
Published: 10th August 2017
Pages: 408
Genre: Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

By Norway's bestselling novelist and the author of NORWEGIAN WOOD, a family story of epic scale. 
"An intricate story about war, family, secrets and, yes, wood ... An engaging, satisfying read" The TimesEdvard grows up on a remote mountain farmstead in Norway with his taciturn grandfather, Sverre. The death of his parents, when he was three years old, has always been shrouded in mystery - he has never been told how or where it took place and has only a distant memory of his mother.
But he knows that the fate of his grandfather's brother, Einar, is somehow bound up with this mystery. One day a coffin is delivered for his grandfather long before his death - a meticulous, beautiful piece of craftsmanship. Perhaps Einar is not dead after all.
Edvard's desperate quest to unlock the family's tragic secrets takes him on a long journey - from Norway to the Shetlands, and to the battlefields of France - to the discovery of a very unusual inheritance. The Sixteen Trees of the Somme is about the love of wood and finding your own self, a beautifully intricate and moving tale that spans an entire century. -Goodreads
I received a copy of this novel from Net Galley and Quercus Books in return for an honest review.
This novel is translated from Norwegian by an extremely talented translator called Paul Russell Garrett, and he deserves serious credit for the beautiful language this novel contains. The writing is descriptive and powerful and emotive, and in terms of the beauty and skill of writing this novel is stunning. 
The setting of this novel moves from a farm in Norway to an island off Shetland in Scotland, and a forest in France near the Somme. The author manages to make these three different places feel unique and feel so real and so full of history and depth. This novel is a wonderful example of the craft of writing.
The story itself is a fascinating one, Sverre (the main character) tries to find out about his family history, and what really caused his parents' deaths when he was 4. The two strands are interwoven very well, and we slowly get to see the full story of Sverre as he discovers it.
The historical aspects are also excellent, it actually feels like I have learnt a lot from this novel, both about the Somme in World War I, and other elements too.
The author of this novel, Mytting, also wrote the bestselling book Norwegian Wood, which is a non-fiction book about wood basically. This love and interest of wood is inherently obvious in this novel too. You can't help but get swept up in his love of trees and wood itself, and the beautiful images his words create. It was also fascinating to read about the symbolism of the particular trees in the title.
Overall this was a beautiful novel, with wonderfully poetic prose, and a fascinating premise. I would highly recommend this novel to all!! 

Book Review- Among the Dead

Sunday, 27 August 2017
Title: Among the Dead
Author: J.R. Backlund
Published: 8th Aug 2017
Genre: Fiction, Thriller, Mystery

Rating: 4/5 stars

Ex-SBI agent Rachel Carver must hunt a group of killers on her own before time runs out in this gripping debut.
Former North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation agent Rachel Carver blames herself for the collateral death of an innocent woman in her last case. Unable to accept her superior's attempts to cover up the incident, she turned in her badge. But when a former partner asks her to consult on a new murder case, she reluctantly agrees, traveling to a small, remote mountain community, where she's tasked with leading a group of inexperienced detectives on a hunt for the killer. The trek has hardly begun when what seems to be the act of a loner proves to be much more as Rachel's team comes under attack-and a detective is killed in the fallout.
Now that the stakes have risen, Rachel's old employers at the SBI step in to take over the investigation. But Rachel, convinced they are on the wrong track, continues to work the case alone. And just as she delves into the town's past, she discovers a secret history that connects the victims-one that makes her the target of a man who would kill to keep it a secret. -Goodreads
I received a copy of this novel from Net Galley and Crooked Lane Books in return for an honest review.
This year has definitely been the year of mysteries an thrillers as far as my reading goes! I've read quite a few this year, and I'm pleased to say (despite the somewhat confusing cover) that this is by far one of the best I've read. 
The author has written an exciting and action packed plot, and it was written well. It kept me reading the whole time, with many twists and turns to keep me guessing!
My favourite part was definitely the character of Rachel (not just because we share a great name!!). She was very well written, she was a female character that was successful at her job, but still realistic and nuanced. The author took the time to develop her into more than just a successful agent. She was the main reason for my enjoyment, and I would definitely be interested in other novels about her.
In relation to the female main character, the author managed to not bombard the reader with forced romances which is often the case in these types of stories. There was a slight hint of romance but it never really developed into anything major which was a welcome relief to me. 
Overall I really enjoyed this novel, it is a well written and exciting police murder mystery, and I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for more of Backlund's work. 

Bout of Books 20 Update #3

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Currently Reading:

Books Completed:

Pages Read Today: 171

Total Pages Read: 484


I'm pretty pleased with this total, I didn't manage to finish the Patrick Ness novel, but I'm confident I'll finish it soon, as I'm really enjoying it!!

Happy reading!

Bout of Books Update #2

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Currently Reading:

Books Completed:

Pages Read Today: 214

Total Pages Read: 313


I managed a lot more reading on Tuesday, and I managed to finish my first book!! Also I've picked up the new Patrick Ness novel which I know I can finish quickly.

Happy reading!

Bout of Books 20 Update #1

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Currently Reading:


Pages Read Today: 99

Total Pages Read: 99


I'm happy with my total reading for Monday, I was working all day so I was pretty pleased to get any pages at all read!

Happy reading!

Bout of Books 20

Sunday, 20 August 2017

If you've followed my blog for any length of time you'll know I like to participate in Bout of Books when I can. This will be my 3rd time taking part *yay* so I'm excited for it all to begin! I am working this week, so I'm not setting too much pressure on myself, I'm just going to read what I can.

If you're not aware of Bout of Books here you go:
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 21st and runs through Sunday, August 27th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 20 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
Feel free to join the fun, and happy reading!! 

Book Review- All Things New

Title: All Things New
Author: Lauren Miller
Published: 1st August 2017
Pages: 328
Genre: YA, Contemporary

Rating: 3/5

Jessa has always felt broken inside, but she’s gotten very good at hiding it. No one at school knows about the panic attacks, the therapy that didn't help, the meds that haven’t worked. But when a severe accident leaves her with a brain injury and visible scars, Jessa’s efforts to convince the world that she’s okay finally crumble—now she looks as shattered as she feels. 
Fleeing from her old life in Los Angeles, Jessa moves to Colorado to live with her dad, where she meets Marshall, a boy whose kindness and generous heart slowly draw Jessa out of her walled-off shell and into the broken, beautiful, real world—a place where souls get hurt just as badly as bodies, and we all need each other to heal.
ALL THINGS NEW is a love story about perception and truth, physical and emotional pain, and the messy, complicated people we are behind the masks we put on for the world, perfect for fans of ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. -Goodreads

I received a copy of this novel from Net Galley and Three Saints Press in return for an honest review.
I'm quite undecided about how I feel about this novel, there were elements I really liked, but I also disliked it too, so I thought a 3/5 rating was a fair rating, although I may change this. 
This novel is about Jessa, a teenager who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, who after being involved in a car crash moves from LA to Colorado to live with her Dad. There she meets a boy called Marshall.
First off I thought this was a very well written portrayal of anxiety, it was realistic and also descriptive so it could be imagined by even those who don't suffer from anxiety. I really appreciated this, it gives readers a character they can relate to, and definitely brings more attention to anxiety and panic attacks. 
Miller's writing is emotive and descriptive, it allows us to feel exactly what Jessa is experiencing. Miller's writing is easy to read and as such the novel is a quick read.
However, I was slightly disappointed by a number of elements of this novel. I thought the character of Jessa was annoying to read, and some of her actions were bizarrely out of character. The way she treated her dad was one of these instances. It felt clunky and weirdly out of character.
Another thing that disappointed me about this novel was the romance itself. It felt a little forced to me, and seemed like it came out of no where, although I do love Marshall as a character. He was funny and charming and very caring, so I did enjoy reading about him!! However, I kind of hated the way that Jessa got a boyfriend which helped her to deal with her mental health. I hate when the author tries to write a boyfriend into a story as some sort of 'cure'. 
But my main disappointment with this novel was the Christian/religious undercurrent that suddenly appeared in the novel. There was no mention of this in the blurb, but it becomes very strong towards the end of the novel. This might be a slight *spoiler* but angels start to play a part in the novel, and the way it's written it seems to suggest that Jessa was helped by the angels, and God. This suggested to me that the author is suggesting that you need religion to help/save yourself from mental health problems. This is disappointing to me, in a YA novel, especially when there is no warning in the blurb.
Overall, I gave this novel 3/5 stars, it was a fairly accurate portrayal of anxiety, but it had disappointing themes which weren't made obvious, and could've been triggering to some readers. 

Book Beginnings and The Friday 56

Friday, 18 August 2017
On Fridays I will share excerpts from whatever I am reading that day. First, Book Beginnings hosted by Rose City Reader  then The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

First share the opening lines of your novel, then turn to page 56 (or 56%) and share a few lines!

This week's novel is If The Creek Don't Rise- Leah Weiss

Beginning: "I struggle to my feet, straighten my back, lift my chin, then he hits me again."

56%: "The next morning, I find I didn't bolt the door against my slithering fears. The door doesn't even have a lock."

Thoughts: I'm enjoying this novel so far, but I'm only a little way through it so we'll see!

Happy reading!

Down The TBR Hole | Week 1

Tuesday, 15 August 2017
This is a blogging meme created by Lia at Lost in a Story. The aim is this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?
I have a terrible habit of adding novels to my Goodreads TBR all the time, most of which I don't own, currently I have 1350 books on it, which is a little intimidating! I don't actually own all these novels, hence the reason I want to go through them and clear some out that I know I don't want to read anymore!

Lets get right on with it!!

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight- Jennifer E Smith

I added this novel to my TBR when it was popular, and I just never got around to actually buying and reading it. However, it does look like quite a cute, easy read, maybe perfect for a holiday!

Verdict: Keep

Revolution- Jennifer Donnelly

This is an intriguing novel with a split narrative between present day New York, and Paris in the 1700-1800s. I love historical reads, and I do still want to read this at some time!

Verdict: Keep

A Million Suns- Beth Revis

This is the second book in the Across the Universe trilogy. I own, and have read the first novel and I've always meant to get the trilogy finished.

Verdict: Keep

Daughter of Smoke and Bone- Laini Taylor

This is another novel that I added to my TBR during the hype, and just never got around to actually reading. However, having gone back and read the blurb, I don't think this is a novel I want to read anymore.

Verdict: Go

Royally Crushed- Niki Burnham

This is a bind up of the first 3 novels in this series, according to the Goodreads blurb its a romantic story about a girl and a Prince or something. I'm pretty sure I will never actually read this novel.

Verdict: Go

The Summer I Turned Pretty- Jenny Han

I'm not sure why I added this to my TBR, reading the blurb, I don't think I'll enjoy a YA novel about a girl choosing between 2 brothers, so this one is definitely going.

Verdict: Go

Night World No.1- L.J Smith

When I was younger I went through a Paranormal phase. It began with Twilight being released and I must have added this to my TBR at that time. It's no longer a genre I'm interested in, so this is an easy decision to make.

Verdict: Go

Graceling- Kristin Cashore

This looks like an intriguing novel, it reminds me a little of the Healer series by Maria V Snyder. I think I would enjoy this novel so hopefully I can get to it soon!

Verdict: Keep

Prophecy of the Sisters- Michelle Zink

First of all I just want to mention the cover of this novel, I think its gorgeous, and really creepy!! According to the blurb on Goodreads it's a YA novel about 2 twins and a prophecy. This is a novel that I would have been really interested in a few years ago, but it's not really my thing anymore!

Verdict: Go

I really like this meme, and I desperately need to reduce my TBR shelf, so hopefully this helps!

Thanks for reading! 

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Monday, 14 August 2017
This meme is hosted by Kathryn at the Book Date.

I'm trying to up my reading this month, it's the last full month before Uni starts again, so my TBR and weekly reading goals are high! Hopefully I can reach these goals!!

What I Read Last Week:

The Sixteen Trees of the Somme- Lars Mytting
This is a beautifully written novel, I really enjoyed it, and there's a review to follow!

The Readymade Thief- Augustus Rose
I'm not sure how I feel about this novel, it was a complex and well developed plot idea but it was delivered rather limply. A review of this novel is coming soon too!

What I'm Currently Reading: 

Specials- Scott Westerfeld
This is the final book in the Uglies trilogy and I am determined that I am going to finish this trilogy by the end of the summer!

Up Next:

Book Beginnings and The Friday 56

Friday, 11 August 2017
On Fridays I will share excerpts from whatever I am reading that day. First, Book Beginnings hosted by Rose City Reader  then The Friday 56 hosted by Freda's Voice.

First share the opening lines of your novel, then turn to page 56 (or 56%) and share a few lines!


This week's novel is The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose.

Beginning: "To make your way to the DePaul Aquarium and Museum of Natural History, on Petty Island in the middle of the Delaware River, you can drive through New Jersey and over the only bridge."

56%: "Lee spent her time upstairs poking through the Caldwells' bedroom, rifling through drawers and closets, opening boxes and searching for secret hideaways, but the Caldwells were dull folk whose bookshelves were full of Christian cowboy romance novels and a series of Left Behind books as long as her arm."

Thoughts: I'm not sure how I feel about this novel yet, I'm not that far through it, and I'm not really sure what the plot is yet!!

Happy reading and have a great weekend!!

Book Review- Third Stone

Thursday, 10 August 2017
Title: Third Stone
Author: Rob Badcock
Published: 12th Nov 2016 
Series: Rib Meskitoe Trilogy #3

Rating: 3/5 stars

It is the year 2044. In a ramshackle hut at the far end of Cabbage Beach, Rib Meskitoe awakens from a nightmare to find two huge ravens sitting at the foot of his bed. One surreal laserflight later, Rib is admitted to Bletchley Intelligence Park, a secret training camp where elite Protectorate cadets are put through their paces on a strictly controlled diet of candyfloss and toffee apples. A chilling message from a mysterious set of song lyrics sends Rib on a helter-skelter dash in search of the Third Stone. The final play is made. The runes are cast. But the ice is coming... -Goodreads

My thanks to the author for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review!
This is the third and final novel in the story of Rib and his adventures, which began with a lottery ticket, and transported him across planets as a fugitive. I enjoyed the previous two novels in this series, and although it has been a few years since I last read about Rib, I was interested to see how his story would end. 
I remember this series being very imaginative, and this novel was no different, the author has created a very complex universe to set the story in, and I really enjoyed getting to know more about the worlds and the authorities etc in the places that Rib found himself in.
The characters are also a pretty eclectic bunch, and I enjoyed getting to read about them again too. Rib is still a great main character, he's cheeky and sarcastic! We also get to read more about Rita, which was my hope from the previous novel. She's probably my favourite character in this series, and she's still pretty awesome in this novel, although her story does feature a few twists and turns! 
This novel is pretty fast paced, its definitely action driven, which makes it a quick and easy read. It is also a very funny novel, in part due to Rib, but it's also due to the narration, there are loads of clever comments and place names and other details that are amusing.
As the final novel in the trilogy it wraps up the loose ends, and provides a satisfactory ending, not leaving the reader with any unanswered questions.
Overall I really enjoyed this novel and the series as a whole. It was action packed and amusing, and I would recommend the series if you are looking for a humorous read with space travel and Vikings among others!!
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