Review: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

This book had been on my wishlist for a long time before I bought it, and I’ve owned it for six months without picking it up. I’ve been hyping it in my head as a book I was going to fall in love with, and the sad reality is, I didn’t.

I wasn’t what I thought it was going to be mostly. I thought I’d signed up for a mystery in an unsettled, backwards little town, but the girl who goes missing gets focalised chapters too. So you know where she is/what’s happening to her and that complicated things. So the whole mystery element was void!

I liked some elements. Like the budding relationship between Petey and Finn, for example, but it wasn’t enough to drive me through the story. There were some passages that were beautifully written but I found a lot of the descriptions sounded like something I’d heard before. Considering how many great things I’d heard about the writing, I have to admit I was surprised by how purple it…wasn’t.

‘Bone Gap’ couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be magical realism or not, so in the end you get this odd fairytale vibe that’s doesn’t feel modern but isn’t working through tropes either. It was a strange story, and one I’ll probably re-read in 10 years time and like a lot more, but reading it now and comparing it to my expectations was really not a good idea.

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Review: Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

From the first few chapters I thought I was going to fall in love with this book. There was intrigue, beautiful writing, and a really interesting cast of characters. It’s the story of Otis, whose best friend and next door neighbour, Meg, moved away suddenly after an unforeseen incident. Otis is left devastated and in mourning for his little brother, and the girl he used to love. In the three years Meg is gone, Otis takes up swimming, coached by Dara the Scandinavian swimming goddess who lost an arm and had to give up her Olympic dreams.

I liked Otis’ voice…until he started describing every girl’s breasts whenever he met them. The male gaze is disgusting, and those moments made me realise why I often steer clear of hetero male protagonists. Otherwise, Otis fits in with the heroes in the writing of John Green, Robyn Snyder, and Jeff Zentner.

Unfortunately, that’s not the only reason I didn’t click with Phantom Limbs . I felt like the emotional tone was one note. It was the same level of sadness, trepidation and guilt the whole way through. There weren’t enough, I don’t know, light hearted, happy moments to encourage me to keep reading. The whole thing was a bit depressing, if I’m honest. There’s supposed to be this slow build up to reveal the exact details of Mason’s death and why Meg moved away but I’d vaguely put things together way before they were confirmed, so I’d lost the hook of the story.

As for character development, I was frustrated with both Meg and Otis as they were both consumed by the past. Obviously coming together again stirred up old emotions, but it didn’t feel like they were good for one another. Meg brought out Otis’ jealous, self-conscious side and it was difficult to read about characters who regressed instead.

Phantom Limbs is pretty romance heavy, even though Meg has a boyfriend already. Those kind of blurred moral lines always make me feel a bit uncomfortable but it added to the general teen angst Otis was feeling, and that was the only change of pace in the story, but the trivial glimpses into his hometown life didn’t always match well with the nostalgic tone. It’s like Otis couldn’t progress with two feelings at once.

I also can’t help but mention the LGBT+ aspect of the story. I’m not sure what Dara identifies as, even though Otis and Meg (who’d only met her a couple of times throughout the story) were OBSESSED with trying to label her as a lesbian. You know what, guys? It doesn’t matter. (Louder now for the ones at the back) IT DOESN’T MATTER. Why the heck these two were talking about Dara’s sexuality behind her back in their own free time, I couldn’t tell you. And don’t get me started on Meg’s ‘I knew she was a lesbian!’ at the end. Like, well done? Do you want a prize? I would kindly like to ask for this trope to die in 2018.

Dara as a whole was a very interesting sub-plot. It did what all great sub plots are meant to do, distract you from the main plot at convenient times but still be interlinked enough that it doesn’t seem obvious that that’s what’s happening. Still, at times I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be Otis’ or Dara’s story. And I have to admit, that at some points, I hoped it was the latter. Is it wrong to say that I probably cared about Dara the most over all? I’m not sure how, but I had a much stronger emotional connection to her. Dara and Otis had both lost a part of themselves, but from reading this books, I’ve realised I’d much prefer to read about the lesbian amputee sticking it to the man.

I didn’t particularly like what the ending suggested, but I still can’t bring myself to give it less than three stars because the opening showed so much promise. If you liked any of the comp authors I mentioned earlier, then I’d definitely give this one a go.

Review: Legion by Julie Kagawa

Series: Talon (#1) | Rogue (#2) | Soldier (#3)
Note: We received the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

This is the fourth book in the Talon series, and it picks up immediately after the events of Soldier. I was pumped to pick this instalment up because, honestly, I just wanted to see what else Talon had up their sleeves. We have been building up to something big, I know that this book was going to be an explosion.

I feel like it’s also funny to mention that I’ve been thinking this whole time about dragons transforming into humans and how awkward that must be, and how does it work an all that, THEN I realised that that’s literally the premise to the old Disney channel show ‘American Dragon.’ I completely forgot that they turned into dragons in that too, so as soon as I started imagining Legion as a YA version of ‘American Dragon’ I was golden.

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Review: Defy the Stars by Claudia Grey

33154647Defy The Stars by Claudia Grey
Genre: Sci-fi
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 420
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★

I feel the same way about Defy the Stars as I do the Star Wars franchiseI thought it was a fun romp through space but I wasn’t invested much more than that. I will say that Defy the Stars is probably the best sci-fi YA I’ve read, and it’s not normally my genre, so to even say I enjoyed it means a lot.

I’m also not a fan of ‘love is the ultimate rebellion’ as the tag line, because I don’t think this story is primarily a romance, and thank goodness! That being said, let’s get onto the review.

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Review: Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder

uk-dawn-study-coverDawn Study by Maria V. Snyder
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Harlequin/ MIRA Ink
Pages: ?
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★
Series: Shadow Study (#1) | Night Study (#2)

This is the end of a series that’s very dear to my heart, so before I share my thoughts on Dawn Study, I though I’d give a brief history of my time with the Chronicles of Ixia. So, I first picked up Poison Study for £2 from a bargain bookstore in 2012, and they had all three books in the first trilogy but I decided to only pick up one because I’ve bought a full series and been disappointed before. I took the book on holiday and read it over a few days and I was dying for the sequel. As soon as I was back in England I bought the other books!

Then a year or so later I found the Glass series which is the sequel trilogy in the same world but featuring a minor character from Fire Study and I had those on my shelf for ages before I finally picked them up because Shadow Study was coming out and I didn’t want to be spoiled on anything just incase. So, I whipped through those three books and it felt like coming home. I adore the writing style and the world is so rich, every book is entertaining.

I requested Shadow Study on Netgalley, but didn’t get approved, and then a while after got an email from the lovely Cara at Harlequin inviting us down to their offices for a blogger party where we’d get the chance to actually meet Maria! I can still remember how excited I was getting this email and I can go straight back to the moment I saw it online (I was supposed to be doing History coursework, and whacked the guy sat next to me in my flailing excitement!) I still think that night was one of the best EVER. It was great to meet so many bloggers and Maria herself! I didn’t bring all my books to sign because I thought that would be way to many, but I wish I had now! And I’ve been following the Soulfinders series ever since! It’s definitely been hard waiting a year for each book, when previously I’ve been able to binge, but the wait was definitely worth it!

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Mini Review: Optimists Die First by Susin Nielson

30335560Optimists Die First by Susin Nielson
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Anderson Press
Pages: 272
Format: ARC Paperback
Rating: ★★★
Note: I received this book from Anderson Press in exchange for an honest review 

really, really liked We Are All Made of Molecules, it was an astonishingly good read that I wasn’t expecting. So, when Optimists Die First came through the letterbox – also unexpectedly – I was really looking forward to seeing whatever Nielson wrote next. And while I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as WAAMOM, it was still a delightful read full of quirky characters and plenty of intrigue!

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Review: Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

12680907Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
Genre: Fantasy
Published by: Gollancz
Pages: 563
Format: e-book
Rating: ★★
Series: Graceling (#1) | Fire (#2)

Just so long. This book was SO LONG. It seriously didn’t need to be, and by the end I was certainly trudging my way through it, however, despite all that it was still my favourite of the trilogy and that can entirely be attributed to the fact that it followed Bitterblue, who is not the Queen of her kingdom. This story takes place a few years on from the events of Graceling, so it’s not really a direct sequel, but you still get to see Katsa and Po, so I’m going to classify this a regular series rather than a companion one, just with a random prequel shoved in the middle there.

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Review: The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

28588345The Midnight Star by Marie Lu
Genre: Fantasy
Published by: Penguin Books
Pages: 313
Format: ebook
Rating: ★★★
Series: The Young Elites (#1) | The Rose Society (#2)

I honestly don’t think I was ready for this series to end. It was one of my most anticipated releases for this half of the year! The Young Elites was one of the first books that I read this year, and I was immediately drawn in by the delicious cast of characters. I’m pretty sure everyone knows by now that one of this series’ USPs is that Adelina is a bit of a villainous protagonist, but not in a fantastical super villain way, more in a ‘this girl’s had a hard life that has forced her to make tricky decisions in sticky situations’. Some people will probably say that’s mellow, but I’ve always loved Adelina, and the bond she has with her sister. And, for me, book two was even better, so I was going in with HIGH expectations, let me tell you.

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Review:The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles

31170713The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles
Genre: Supernatural, Contemporary, Romance
Published by: Bloomsbury Children’s
Pages: 400
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. 

Okay, so this book has a lot of hype. And by a lot, I mean A LOT. Seriously, scroll down the Goodreads page and all you’ll see is five star reviews! People are getting excited about this, so why didn’t I feel the magic? Maybe partly because I was switching from reading an e-book copy and listening to it on the text-to-speech function, but that doesn’t sound quite right. The Edge of Everything covers a great deal of things. If you didn’t think that a supernatural boyfriend was enough, then you have a girl’s quest to recover her father’s body, a boy’s struggle to get out of a binding service, and a family dealing with a shady past. And the best bit is they all link together!

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Review: And I Darken by Kiersten White

cover86746-mediumAnd I Darken by Kiersten White
Genre: Fantasy, Re-telling (Alternate History?), Romance
Published by: Corgi Children’s
Pages: 484
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

So far my experience of Kiersten White’s writing has been the Mind Games duology, which I enjoyed but didn’t think it did a very good job of explaining itself, but she’s a pretty prolific writer and there had been a bit of hype going around about this Vlad the Impaler-as-a-girl retelling and I admit, I got swept along with it too. And I Darken, if you didn’t already know, is the story of Lada (who I guess will grow up to become Lada the Impaler?) and her brother Radu moving from their home town to become part of the Ottoman empire. It’s a fantasy story with a strong emphasis or politics, religion and sexuality, all of which are seamlessly weaved into this bad-ass girl’s life story.

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