The Sin Eater’s Daughter – Melinda Salisbury

“Even when there are no prisoners, I can still hear the scream. They live in the walls like ghosts and echo in between footsteps. If you travel down deep into the belly of the castle, beneath the barracks where the guards sleep, beneath the Telling rooms, that is where they linger behind the quiet moments.”

Twylla is the perfect weapon. Able to kill with a single touch she is the Queens personal threat for those who commit treason. She lives within the castle walls but has always been alone, despite knowing that one day her and the prince are to be wed. One day her guard is replaced with an easy going boy whose smile belies his swordsmanship and slowly but surely Twylla’s captivity seems less claustrophobic. As the two grow closer in a relationship that can hardly go anywhere Twylla has to be careful to carry on as normal, no matter what else is going on, in order to protect the whole kingdom.

***

I enjoyed The Sin Eater’s Daughter for what it was, a love triangle with fantasy, treason and treachery thrown in the mix. I was sucked in from the first few chapters and always wondered where the story was going (I don’t often read full blurbs of books in case they give too much away) and I think that it showed a lot of potential for the author in her future endeavours.

I believe, especially from the ending, that there will be more books in this series and in all honesty I hope there are because the setting and the world Melinda Salisbury has created are so intriguing and interesting. I loved the setting of the castle and the whole idea of the poison being held within Twylla’s skin and the lore surrounding Sin-Eating.

I however can only give this an average rating because the story itself was slow to get going. The blurb I received before reading The Sin-Eaters Daughter, that I didn’t actually read until I’d completed the book, tells of what happens and in all honesty that is the most major part of the story, but it doesn’t happen until about 270 pages in. I think that the build up to it was kind of needed to avoid the concept of instal-love between Twylla and Leif but there surely could have been more actual story between the start of the book at 270 pages in?

The characters were well written and interesting. I liked Twylla a lot and thought the anger, resentment and loneliness of the character came across brilliantly. I disliked the love triangle but I think thats because I wasn’t the biggest fan of Leif with his stupid smile and too easy going nature. I think the Prince played a brilliant part in the story and genuinely felt like he was the victim in the story, I felt awful for him when plans came to light and when he found out about Twyllla and Leif’s relationship as I think he really did hold a torch for her.

I enjoyed the story but not as much as I was hoping. The major plot seemed to take forever to arrive and then when it did it went far too quickly so it felt rushed. If there is a second book (Which I am confident there will be) I hope the storyline moves faster for such a brilliant world deserves a great story to be told within it.

The Sin Eater’s Daughter will be published on March 5th by Scholastic. My copy was sent to me by the publisher for review through the LoveReading4Kids.co.uk website.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:
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The Map to Everywhere – Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis

“Hard to remember, difficult to notice. And not just like ‘doesn’t stand out in a crowd,’ like serios ‘its magic’-type stuff. The boy just slips out of the mind when not in front of you. Forgot why I was writing this report three times already- have to have the boy here right now just so I can finish this blixin’ thing without wandering away again. Origin of affliction: unknown.”

Fin has always blended in and never been remembered. Having ran out on the orphanage when he was seven. He’s spent the years learning the tricks of the thief trade, and has become a Master Thief, an easy enough job for someone no one remembers. But its a lonely place and Fin longs for someone who remembers him. Merril is a your average young girl, sick of being stuck in the same place following years of travelling with her parents, she’s annoyed to find out she has to stay in Arizona for a while longer yet. Her mum is sick and she has to be good to ensure no additional stress is caused. Except Merril always tends to find adventure wherever she goes, and this time its found her, in the form of a huge pirate ship in a parking lot. A twist of fate brings the two children together and takes them on a quest to find the map to everywhere, the only way to find their way home, but they aren;t the only one on this quest and they will have to defeat one of the darkest and most powerful wizards in order to get to it. Can they do so before The Oracle fulfils his terrifying prophecy.

***

This was a bit of an odd book for me. On the one hand I loved it and on the other it fell flat. I usually adore 9-12 adventure/fantasy books so I was very much looking forward to this, especially as I have heard amazing things about Carrie Ryan following on form her Forest of Hands and Teeth books.

I settled down to read on New Years Day and got about 25 pages in before my sister arrived. I obiovusly couldn’t continue so put it down until we’d gone to bed where I attempted a bit more… and failed. I didn’t then pick the book up again until the 5th at work during my lunch break. And I read a page and put it down. It took around about 250 pages to really grab me, it was slow going and whilst I loved the premise so I wanted to continue (the main reason for getting to 250 pages in the first place) there was a detachment I couldn’t get over. This was my first book of 2015 and not the best start to my reading year unfortunately.

I don’t always expect a lot from characters in middle grade books. Its not that middle grade books are worse than others or are less complex as a whole or anything like that… its just that sometimes the sheer length of the book won’t allow to delve into the minds of the characters and the story is so good anyway that its not needed. This book was 420 pages long though so you expect a lot more. I did get a good feeling from the characters but I didn’t get to know them in the way I was hoping. Merrill and Fin were explored in more depth but they weren’t actually the characters I really wanted to know about as Ardent and Coll really intrigued me. I would have loved to know the background between Ardent and The Oracle for sure, but maybe thats coming in later books.

The story was great but was dragged out a bit and that let it down. I enjoyed it for the most part but I think I would have preferred it to have been written in first person, or alternate first and third, instead of all in third person as I didn’t get to lose myself in the book like I wanted to. I liked the different settings in the book and I think the images would have been amazing but unfortunately they weren’t in my copy as it was a proof copy. The illustration places were marked in the book and I can image what they would have been like and perhaps that would have made me delve into the story even further.

I did enjoy the book but I don’t think I can fully recommend it… its long and its not as exciting as a lot of book out there in this category for this age range. I doubt I’ll be continuing the series any further than book, especially as I believe there are another 3 to be published.

The Map to Everywhere was published on November 20th by Orion. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Carrie Ryan Website | John Parke Davis website

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Marly’s Ghost – David Levithan

“Marly was dead, to begin with. There was no doubt whatsoever about that. I had been there. When she went off the treatments, she decided she wanted to die at home, and she wanted me to be there with her family. So I sat, and I waited, and I was destroyed.” 

Its been four months since Ben’s girlfriend Marly died. Four long, hard months filled with grief, sadness and loneliness. He cannot get her off his mind and has retreated from his friends. With Valentine’s Day approaching Ben feels more alone and miserable than ever, and he isn’t afraid to share that misery. He is ignoring his friends, telling a newly loved up couple that they are doomed to fail and scoffing at any paper hearts he sees. Then one night, his beloved Marly returns as a ghost, and brings with her the promise of a visit from three spirits who will let him see the error of his ways. 

***

A retelling of the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, with a Valentine’s Day twist, Marly’s Ghost is a brilliant way to reinstate today’s teenagers with the fiction of the past. The book careful adapts Dickens’ story to a modern day setting where the problem is the main character has forgotten what it is like to love, and can only see loss and sadness.

David Levithan is a genius and we all know this. That is why I was expecting this to be great. It wasn’t as great as I expected but honestly I think that could be because it was something he was commissioned to do, rather than chose to do himself. This doesn’t make it in anyway a bad book or any less valid because it wasn’t his original idea, he was asked to do a retelling of A Christmas Carol and thats what he did, and I think he did it well. It was sad but no sadder than the original (If you’ve read it, not many people have!) and I thought it captured the same feelings as the original. This book address the idea of coping with the loss of a loved one and how it can honestly feel like the end of the world. I really thought that the best bit was with the ghost of future because it really made it clear what Ben could led himself into and I thought it was so sad to see the reactions of the people around him.

The character Ben wasn’t a nice character but he wasn’t meant to be. He was shrouded in so much grief that he didn’t really have much of a personality as such, all you knew was from the little bits Fred, his best friend, mentioned when Ben was with the ‘present’ ghost. I really liked the look of Fred and I liked how much Ben opened up towards the end of the book, it was like he was a whole new person and you could see the person he would have been with Marley.

The book is quite predictable because it follows the same path as A Christmas Carol, so if you’ve read that or watched the many film adaptations you will see the similarities. I enjoyed it though, it was a decent retelling and had some brilliant illustrations that I think captured the books events but also captured the feeling of the original story well too.

I read this book in my Christmas break and thought it was a perfect time of year to read it. When its still close to Christmas but also getting closer to Valentines Day, it seems like the two ideas of the story (both the original and the remix) are captured perfectly. I would definitely recommend it to any Levithan fans even if its not his strongest book.

Marly’s Ghost was published on January 8th by Electric Monkey Books. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:
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Back to Blackbrick – Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

“My granddad was pretty much the cleverest person I eve met so it was strange in the end to see the way people treated him – as if he was a complete moron. We were waiting for a train one day, not bothering anyone, when this boy said to me, 

‘Hey. Hey you. What’s wrong with the old man?’ 

In fairness, my granddad did happen to be in the middle of quite a long conversation with a lamp post. But still, it didn’t give the boy the right to be nosy.” 

Cosmo’s grandfather is forgetting everything. Who Cosmo is, where Brian went and even his own life story. Cosmo is determined to help in anyway he can. But when his Grandfather gives him a key and tells him to go to Blackbrick Abbey Cosmo is confused as to how this will help. As a last resort Cosmo gets a taxi using his uncles money, and makes his way to an Abbey he’s never heard of. There he finds himself thrust into a different time and place, one which involves his Grandfather, but has never been mentioned before. Can anything Cosmo do whilst he’s here help his Grandfather and will Cosmo be able to find his way back home before its too late? 

***

This is a heart breaking tale of family and true love and the awful effect Alzheimers can have on a person witnessing it, especially a young person who doesn’t fully understand it.

Back to Blackbrick is a magical realism novel aimed at the younger YA audience which explores Alzheimers through the eyes of a boy called Cosmo. Cosmo’s not had much luck with any of his family recently and his Grandfather was the one who was there for him through all the ups and downs and now it seems his Grandfather is providing the downs. Cosmo’s life is about to be torn apart when he is given a key that could help restore his Grandfather’s memories. Cosmo finds himself in a world which belongs to his grandfather at 16 years old and finds out a lot, including his grandfather’s past and about how to be a decent person.

Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed Sarah Moore Fitzgerald’s most recent book The Apple Tart of Hope. I thought this was a little twee in places and saw an awful lot of the reveals coming early on in the book. I did enjoy the brutal honesty of how the situation played out though and I found it heartwarming to know that Cosmo’s time at Blackbrick had some effect on the lives of his Grandparents.

As stated above this book is perfect for a younger YA audience, or a more advanced MG audience. I think advanced YA readers may get a little bored of the writing which is in places a little too slow for my liking. The narration by Cosmo gave off a storytelling vibe, particularly towards the end of his time at Blackbrick and it started making me think of the way the classics are told. I think the time period in which Cosmo went back to seemed a little too dated too and I kept thinking it was much further back in the past than it actually was. I know that there would have been places like that even back in the 40’s in England but it was an extreme version of what times would have been like.

There was a lot I loved about this book and I know I am being fairly negative here so I should balance that negativity out! I loved the characterisation of those in Blackbrick, Maggie and Mrs Kelly especially were fantastic characters and Cosmo himself grew up an awful lot during his time there. I found Lord Corporamore to be a horrible person who’s eeriness and sharpness was present on every page he appeared on, which is always a good sign with a character like that.

Back to Blackbrick was published in February 2013 by Orion Children’s books. My copy was purchased from my favourite indie bookstore, Storyteller’s Inc.
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:
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The Art of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson

“One afternoon, when I was eight years old, my class was told to write about what we wanted to be when we grew up. Miss Box went round the class, asking each one of us to stand up and share what we had written. Zachary Olsen wanted to play for the premier league. Lexi Taylor wants to be an Actress. Harry Beaumont planned on being Prime Minister. Simon Allen wanted to be Harry Potter, so badly that the previous term he had scratched a lightening bolt on to his forehead with a pair of craft scissors. 

But I didn’t want to be any of these things.” 

When rumoured bad boy Leo turns up at Eden Park School everyone is talking about him and what he must have done to get kicked out of Cloverdale, the bad school in town. David however is just curious, there’s something about Leo that intrigues him and he wants to get close to him. David has a secret that stops him wanting to get close to anyone. Its a secret that only his two best friends know, he is a girl trapped inside the body of a boy. Leo has plenty of secrets too and being the new boy in school he just wants to keep himself to himself and let people think whatever they want to think about his reputation. When events conspire to bring the two boys together they find out more about each other than either of them expected to, but the question is can they in turn help each other figure out exactly what track their lives should be on? 

***

It isn’t often that I find a book that I fall madly, deeply in love with, a book that I whittle away hours reading without even realising that hours have gone by, and one that I read without barely putting down because it just so good. This book is one of those and I am sad to have actually finished it.

The story is told from alternating perspectives between David and Leo and tells of their struggles both as people completely separate from one another and then, as the book progresses, as friends. It is about David, who is struggling to pluck up the courage to tell the world who he really is, and about Leo, a boy who obviously has serious issues and is determined to live his life as lonely as possible. The two of them form a friendship when bad boy Leo ends up in trouble for punching David’s bully and from there you get the feeling that the two of them will become friends, even if there is still some reluctance.

The characters were fantastic and I loved that I got to know them as real people early on in the book. There is a fair bit of backstory but it really allows you to understand them as people and understand their actions later on in the book. I was rooting for David the entire way through the book, from the very first page which starts with the quote above. Leo took a little bit longer to get to know but that is because of the tough shell he has, which isn’t even broken easily for the reader, despite the fact that his parts of the book are told from first person perspective just like Davids. Its like Leo is hiding himself from himself just as much as other people because he’s determined hes going to get hurt, which is awful.

This book does offer a huge rollercoaster of emotions and the topics it covers are fantastically interesting. I could tell that Lisa Williamson had done a lot of research into Transgender teenagers, and all kinds of teenagers and she put that into her writing really well. There wasn’t a single point where I thought ‘Yeah right, that wouldn’t happen’ or scoffed at something a character said and I absolutely loved how spot on she got the relationships – especially the sibling relationships – within the book.

I honestly can’t rave about this book anymore. It has a huge series of 5 star reviews on goodreads, and mine was a five star rating too. It deserves it because in all seriousness it was one of the best books I’ve read this year and the best book I’ve read about transgender teenagers ever.

The Art of Being Normal was published on January 1st by David Fickling Books. Thank you to the publisher who sent me a copy in exchange for an honest review. 
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Author Website

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Captive – AJ Grainger

“My little sister, Addy, is playing with her Baby Betty doll on the stairs of Number 10. Her collection of dolls is pushed up against the wooden panelling on the fourteenth step, the one that thats the stairs around the first bend. She shouldn’t be here. She should be up in our flat, getting ready to leave.”

Robyn, her mother and her baby sister are on the way to spend time with her grandparents. Leaving her father behind to run the country Robyn is worried, and rightly so. Her father, the Prime Minister, was shot just three months ago and things have been tense at Downing Street ever since. Robyn’s fears for her father are unfounded though, when it is her who is taken hostage, that is held captive and who her father needs to bargain for. She is trapped in a web of corruption and she is unsure what to think, all she knows is that there is something odd going on with her father and that she is stuck with a strange, melancholy boy, guarding her.

***

An interesting read Captive delivered just what I expected from a YA crime/mystery. It was fast paced, involved a romantic element that was none too shabby and had just enough blood to make me squirm but not throw up!

The situation that Robyn is put into because of her father is a pretty crazy one. There are terrorists after her father and at the start of the book she sees things very much in black and white. They are the baddies whilst she and her father are the good guys. Once captivated Robyn starts to understand that the world isn’t always like that and there are confusions along the way. I hated that the terrorist leader ‘Feather’ treated her the way she did and thought that it was ridiculous to blame her for being a typical 16 year old girl. The events of the book really open Robyn’s eyes and I thought that it showed brilliantly what a major event can do to a girl like her. I particularly loved the relationship between Robyn and her little sister Addy and just how much she was willing to do to protect her, that was amazing.

The story was great and it really captivated me. It brought to mind some thoughts about the actions of those involved that I’ve never really thought about before. I am one of these people who likes to complain about the politicians we have in place at the moment (though unlike some I do my bit by voting in elections rather than just sitting complaining!) but this book reminded me that they are human too. I hate the idea of the ‘celebrity’ so all the stuff with the paparazzi infuriated me and that made me like Robyn more than I probably would have done if she were in any other book!

There were things that I wasn’t sure about with Captive which is why it was rated 3.5 on Goodreads. I thought that the love interests were a little quick to rush into things that there was only minor development there. I think my problem with that was a little to do with the idea of Stockholm syndrome and thats how it came across a little bit, which was a little disappointing. Other than that the book was a little too quick and I would have liked more to find out about who Robyn was before the kidnapping.

I did enjoy Captive a lot and I would recommend it. Its a brilliant piece for the authors debut and I think that AJ Grainger will definitely go far in her career as a writer. I really hope she does anyway because there aren’t a great deal of authors out there at the minute producing crime/mystery books that really make you think like Captive does and there needs to be more!

Capitve will be published by Simon and Schuster on January 29th. My copy was sent from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:
Amazon | Hive | Goodreads | Author Website

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My favourite books of 2014

So I am a little late with this, I usually do this post towards the end of December but I didn’t get chance! I wanted to share with you my top books of last year, in no order at all and the books I read last year, not just those that were published! I usually do 10 books but I have found that because I fell short of my targets for 2014 I have also fallen short of my favourite books. I think there will only be about 6 but these are the very best and there are a number of books that came up close to these!

 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender – Leslye Walton

First of all very early in the year I read a fantastic book called The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. This was a very strange book as its title suggests but I loved it all the same. I read it a year ago now and its still playing on my mind, I still love it and I am still struggling to put into words how much this book means to me.

It was a sad book that doesn’t actually fit perfectly into the YA genre. It was more a crossover and I think will appeal to a number of people. Its about a girl who was born with wings and who really wants to see the world but who encounters horrible people when she tries to do so. I can’t put into words how much I loved this book but I tried in my garbled review which you can read here.

Find out more about The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender on Goodreads.

 

Far From You – Tess Sharpe 

This was also a sad book for completely different reasons. It was about a girl, Sophie, who has been addicted to drugs but is trying to stay clean. She nearly dies when her and her best friend are attacked by a masked man, her best friend is not so lucky and is a fatal victim of the event. Everyone is quick to pin the blame on Sophie but she knows that what they are saying is not the truth. She becomes dectective in a thrilling and terrifying tale showed in crime and mystery.

The use of the past and present in alternating chapters really made me fall in love with this book and I couldn’t put it down at the time of reading. I was hoping 2015 would bring more from this author but nothing has been announced yet. I really hope there will be more from her soon though!

Read my review of Far From You here and visit the Goodreads page to find out what others thought.

 

The Year of the Rat – Clare Furness 

This one surprised me. I expected to hate it and see the main character as a selfish and awful person, but that wasn’t the case at all. I think this book reminded me that not everyone puts themselves before others and especially not all teenagers. There were so parts of the book which made me think that the main character was selfish but they were soon rectified with the actions of Pearl.

If I could write any book this is one I would want to have written, I think it appeals to a wide audience and honestly should be read by all. It was eye-opening and has a lot of alternative views within it that are not found often in books for younger people, or such a wide audience. Read my review of The Year of the Rat here and find out more on Goodreads.

 

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak 

The Book Thief had been on my wish list for years before I finally got round to reading it in 2014. I have the film to thank for finally making me read the book and absolutely loving it. I won’t go into much detail but it focuses on the main character Liesil and her part in hiding a Jew from the Nazis in the second world war.

It was a hard book to read and honestly probably was the longest I read all year but it was worth it for what it offered in the way of reward. It was a beautiful and horrible rolled into one and it made me cry and hate the things I already knew about the state of the war even more. It is well worth a read for anyone who hasn’t. My review can be read here and you can find out more on Goodreads.

 

Ruin and Rising – Leigh Bardugo

This was the final book in the Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo and in all honesty I think it was a brilliant ending. I loved this book and the trilogy fast became one of my favourite trilogies of all time. I even have art from the books waiting to be hung onto a wall in my library/office room and I am sad that there won’t be another Leigh birddog book coming in 2015.

I usually have issue with fantasy and this series is quite a high fantasy. I’ve heard people say that if you like Game of Thrones (the books) then you will enjoy this series and I can kinda see where they are coming from even without having read the GoT books. Its one of those series I will thrust into the hands of anyone who is unwilling to give YA a chance but likes fantasy because I think it is brilliant, even with the love story that runs throughout. Find out more about this book via my review or on Goodreads.

 

The Art of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson

A last minute addition to my best books of 2014 is The Art of Being Normal. I read this book just last week, finishing it on the 28th December so it just snuck into 2014! I adored it and my full review will be on the blog next week but I had to make sure it was on this list because it deserves to be on everyones best of list!

For now check out Goodreads to find out more about this title and see just how many 5 star reviews its got!

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The Winter Wolf – Holly Webb

“Tangled Branches tapped at the windows as the car nosed down the track towards the house. Amelia shivered happily. It was a bit like a fairy tale, this huge, old, abandoned house, deep in the countryside. There had been a sign at the end of the track, half grown over with ivy. Amelia had just about been able to see that it said ‘Allen House’.”

Amelia is excited for her Scottish Christmas break in the old house that now belonged to her mum and her mum’s aunt. The house was in the middle of nowhere and it would be a proper family Christmas. However she didn’t expect that her cousin Tom, the cousin closest to her own age, would come as a package deal with Freddie, a huge big husky dog that Amelia didn’t like the look of at all. Ever since a dog knocked her over in the park Amelia has been terrified of them and now she has to spend Christmas trying to hide from Freddie. One particular afternoon while keeping out of Freddie’s way Amelia finds herself in the attic, where she uncovers the diary of her ancestor, Noah Allen. Noah has his own animal related disaster going on as he is trying to help an abandoned wolf pup. When Amelia finds herself transported into the wintry world of Noah’s life she must face her fears or risk abandoning both Noah and the pup when they need her most. 

***

This was such a cute book that really put me in the mood for Christmas. It had all the right settings, the right feelings and covered some brilliant topics that I thought were just right for the age range it is aimed at. I loved it now but it probably would have been one of my favourite books of all time had I read it when I was 7 or 8!

The story is sweet and really focuses on Amelia’s fear of dogs and what that means for her stay at Allen House. She was in for a miserable Christmas break when she found out Freddie was staying at the house too, but then the magic of Noah’s diary helped her face her fears. I loved that she was transported into this world where she needed to help them, but also they were helping her too because both Noah and the pup allowed her to get over the fear and move on. It was a heartwarming story and definitely one I think a lot of kids would love to read.

The writing was simple but that is because of the age group its aimed at. I very rarely read books of this age group – 6 to 8 – because of how simplified I find the text, but this was exciting because of the story and it made me bypass the writing a lot. Even then its not all ‘she said’ ‘he said’ like I remember a lot of books were from when I was that age and there were some parts of the book that surprised me. The text itself was bigger to allow for easier reading and it was interspersed with pictures which were adorable. The diary entries were a fantastic addition to the book because they really did allow me to be immersed into Amelia’s world and I think that the author did a brilliant job of conveying the characters feelings in order to make the reader feel like part of the book itself.

The characters were brilliant and I loved Amelia’s can do attitude, she was very brave and very strong. She was only 10 which was quite obvious in the things she thought and said but I think she was quite a mature ten year old. Noah was a nice character and I liked that the time difference came across well in the things he said. I think there would have been more of a difference but it might have made reading for the younger readers very difficult so I liked the way it was done. The other characters like Tom, Freddie, Amelia’s mum and sister, were all very minor but still managed to convey some sense of personality which I enjoyed.

The Winter Wolf was definitely what I wanted when I was browsing my shelves for stories to get me into the Christmas spirit. I warmed my heart whilst making me grab for my blanket and it made me think of all the things to be grateful for in my life. It was a lovely story and now I’ve read it I’ll definitely be putting Holly Webb on my list of authors to look out for for my own children.

The winter Wolf was published by Stripes during October 2014. My copy was an unsolicited review copy sent from the publisher. 
 
To buy the book or for more info please visit:
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Merry Christmas!

Dragon holding Merry Christmas sign

 

Ok I know, I know… that’s technically a dragon not a dinosaur… but I think the two are closely related!

Anyway, I just wanted to say Merry Christmas and that I hope you all have a very happy new year. I will be taking the time over the holidays to catch up on reading and schedule some reviews in. I won’t be posting reviews until January now but I will be here that first week in January to share my top ten 2014 reads with you all!

Thank you for reading over the past year in particular, its been a strange one thats for sure, and I think it will get stranger still in 2015! I hope you all enjoy the holidays!

 

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My True Love Gave to Me – Edited by Stephanie Perkins

In this collection of twelve tales we meet an orphan who falls for a god, a jewish boy who is willing to do anything for his boyfriend – even be santa, and a couple who took far too long to realise they were meant to be. Each story written by a major name in YA romance, My True Love Gave To Me will melt your heart on the cold winter nights and make you believe again. 

***

This book was brilliant, it was just what I needed in the run up to the Christmas period and it gave me tingles thinking about some of the fresh romances that were present within. Many of the names on the cover were known to me but some were new. I’m not going to lie in saying that some of the names were familiar and unfortunately I didn’t like the stories they were familiar for but I don’t think there was a single story in My True Love Gave to Me that I didn’t like.

I most certainly had my favourites and some actually surprised me, both in good ways and bad. I think my favourites were Laini Taylor’s The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer, Matt de la Peña’s Angels in the Snow, Stephanie Perkins’ Its a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown, Krampuslauf by Holly Black and Welcome to Christmas, CA, by Kiersten White.

Each of these stories really stayed with me and brought something festive out. I love Laini Taylor and Stephanie Perkins anyway so I expected to love them but Holly Black is sometimes hit and miss for me, and both Matt de la Peña and Kirsten White are new to me completely, needless to say though I will be checking them out following on from this.

I loved the fantasy element of both The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer and Krampuslauf and how they seemed to have more to them than just the love story. The little things about Stephanie Perkins story like North’s name and the pagan/hippie connection was brilliant and I really liked the characters in Angels in the Snow and Welcome to Christmas, CA.

I was surprised by David Leviathan’s Your Temporary Santa and Rainbow Rowell’s Midnights. I love both of these authors a lot but these stories fell a little flat. I liked the idea of Rainbows and David’s was ok but I think what both of these authors do best is character development and in short stories like this is really hard to do to a suitable level for me.

I think the collection as a whole was really great and I think there will be something for everyone in its pages. Together they make a brilliant collection to bring the reader into the Christmas Spirit and I really enjoyed reading the book and I think it might be one that I revisit each Christmas… especially those stories mentioned above that I loved.

My True Love Gave to Me was published by MacMillan Children’s Books on October 9th 2014. My copy was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. 
 
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