Saturday 23 May 2015

REVIEW; Very Bad Things, by Ilsa Madden-Mills


Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Drama

Recommend: No


Nora Blakely is a model member of society. Brought up in a life of luxury she follows her mother's rules and sticks close to being the daughter to be proud of. But just before her 19th birthday she snaps, and abandons her life of privileges. 

Nora decides to make a list of what to do to be "bad" and redefine herself. Along the way she meets her soul-mate, but he doesn't want her. Leo Tate is 25 years old and doesn't have time for love, never-mind with someone 6 years his junior. 

But yet he can't seem to get her out of his head and every-time he tries to push her away, she bounces back into his life as he tries not to break her heart and as Nora deals with the demons of her past. 

My Thoughts:

Reading the blurb of this on Goodreads, I really thought this would be a quick and enjoyable read. Something right up my street... sadly though, I was disappointed.

Nora: I liked her at the start; I admired her defiant nature and her bravery to rebel and stand up for herself. But she soon became a pathetic idiot. She kept throwing herself at Leo despite him being quite blunt he didn't want her to begin with. Even though he kept hurting her, she stayed around and still tried. So you could argue she knew he was her soul-mate, but I didn't feel their love was real. I couldn't warm to her character once she got drunk and ended up at his house.

Leo: He was a mess too. I'm tired of reading of the troubled playboy who doesn't do love and then meets The One and can't understand the feelings he has and how beautiful she is without makeup or without even knowing.

"She wasn't a classically beautiful girl, or maybe just not the kind of pumped-up pretty I'm used to seeing at Club Vita, yet there was something compelling about her that had gotten my attention"

He then kisses her and is surprised when she utters the word "love." It's been pretty clear from the get-go she believes she's in love with him! 

Insta-Love: Oh my pet hate creeps up again. As soon as they laid eyes on each other they were head over heels, even if one tried to deny it. But as the story continued there was no reason given- there was nothing to solidify their romantic connection. Everything was just "soulmate soulmate soulmate" and heated looks FOR NO REASON! Now, whilst I do believe you can meet someone and have instant connection/chemistry, there still has to be other factors to love them, and there wasn't even any chemistry between them. 

Teddy: I was quite shocked as to how the writer/Nora referred to Teddy. Authors have the ability to really influence the thoughts of the reader and it felt that Nora's ignorance was archaic and insulting. 

"I'm just surprised that you chose him for your band. I'm sure he's worth all the extra work."

"...Teddy for his band because he liked imperfect people." 

Oh. My. God. So Teddy has autism- great to have a character with a disability in a YA novel, right? It can help really educate young people about how these people ARE NOT TO BE TREATED DIFFERENTLY AND CAN DO WHAT WE DO, right? (Aside from things that directly are impeded but that just because someone's legs don't work doesn't mean they can't sing type of thing.) 
But no! Instead Nora points him out to being hard work to have in a band with a snide remark and then claims he's imperfect!! IMPERFECT BECAUSE HE'S AUTISTIC, ARE YOU FOR REAL!? Why can't an autistic person be in a band? How does autism affect a musical talent? This happening early on actually spawned hatred for this book. 
I was just shocked, even if Nora was meant to be ignorant on autistic people or whatever, Leo did little to correct her and there was no chance to educate her or the reader. This portrays that everyone without a disability is now to be labelled "Perfect" and those with one, are now "Imperfect." It's sickening. So congratulations Madden-Mills on shaping the minds of the young so brilliantly.

The story in general lacked direction. It was just a whirlwind of rebelling Nora in a pit of self-pity and Leo being an ass the entire time. There were also numerous typos, including a mistype of Sebastian's name on one occasion. 


This was a wreck. Got worse as I read on and I couldn't bare to complete the novel. The way Teddy was portrayed was hurtful and I can't remember/find one redeeming feature about this novel. It would've gotten two stars if Teddy hadn't been labelled "Imperfect" but that immediately set this off badly. Do not recommend to anyone that enjoys a good book. Find something else.

Amazon UK

Saturday 16 May 2015

TOP 5; Young Adult Paranormal Series

Continuing with a post of my Top 5, I have my favourite series that fall under Young Adult Paranormal. Again, I haven't listed them in an exact order preference as they all have their perks!

1. Glass Houses (The Morganville Vampires #1), by Rachel Caine | 

"From the author of the popular Weather Warden series comes the debut of an exciting new series set in Morganville, Texas, where you would be well advised to avoid being out after dark.

College freshman Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation. When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don't show many signs of life, but they'll have Claire's back when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood. Will she be able to face the town's terror or will she drown like everyone else?"

I remember picking this book because the cover was glow in the dark (different version) and it sounded fairly interesting- but oh I was hooked so quickly. I love Rachel Caine's writing style and immediately fell for all of the characters. There's such a good dichotomy of love and chaos and the story is all through Claire's POV. The town of Morganville is built so strongly in description and remains vivid throughout the series. Ending usually with cliffhangers after a whirlwind of action and drama, you'll be hooked from the start.

2. Wither (The Chemical Garden #1), by Lauren DeStefano | 

By age sixteen, Rhine Ellery has four years left to live. She can thank modern science for this genetic time bomb. A botched effort to create a perfect race has left all males with a lifespan of 25 years, and females with a lifespan of 20 years. Geneticists are seeking a miracle antidote to restore the human race, desperate orphans crowd the population, crime and poverty have skyrocketed, and young girls are being kidnapped and sold as polygamous brides to bear more children. 

When Rhine is kidnapped and sold as a bride, she vows to do all she can to escape. Her husband, Linden, is hopelessly in love with her, and Rhine can't bring herself to hate him as much as she'd like to. He opens her to a magical world of wealth and illusion she never thought existed, and it almost makes it possible to ignore the clock ticking away her short life. But Rhine quickly learns that not everything in her new husband's strange world is what it seems. Her father-in-law, an eccentric doctor bent on finding the antidote, is hoarding corpses in the basement. Her fellow sister wives are to be trusted one day and feared the next, and Rhine is desperate to communicate to her twin brother that she is safe and alive. Will Rhine be able to escape - before her time runs out?

Together with one of Linden's servants, Gabriel, Rhine attempts to escape just before her seventeenth birthday. But in a world that continues to spiral into anarchy, is there any hope for freedom?
I'm not a huge fan of Dystopian novels that portray a negative future but I love these so much. Whilst it's not really paranormal, this series depicts such an interesting concept where humans have much shorter life spans. The first book is a great introduction and a mix of love and drama and fast-paced action with a great load of suspense. I still have the final novel to look forward to and have passed this series on to so many friends that have thoroughly enjoyed it.

3. Evermore (The Immortals #1), by Alyson Noel | 

After a horrible accident claims the lives of her family, sixteen-year-old Ever Bloom can see people's auras, hear their thoughts, and know someone's entire life story by touching them. Going out of her way to avoid human contact to suppress her abilities, she has been branded a freak at her new high school — but everything changes when she meets Damen Auguste.
Damen is gorgeous, exotic and wealthy. He's the only one who can silence the noise and random energy in her head - wielding a magic so intense, it's as though he can peer straight into her soul. As Ever is drawn deeper into his enticing world of secrets and mystery, she's left with more questions than answers. And she has no idea just who he really is - or what he is. The only thing she knows to be true is that she's falling deeply and helplessly in love with him. 

I read this series a good few years ago, but it was definitely one that I loved and impatiently awaited the next installment. Ever is such an interesting and captivating character and the reader immediately falls in love with her world. Damen is also such a great book boyfriend and their love story is one of my favourites. There's plenty of heartache and drama but the whole series is so endearing. 

4. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin | 

Mara Dyer believes life can't get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can. 

She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her strangely unharmed. 
There is.

She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love. 
She's wrong

I read the first installment last summer and can't wait to read the next ones. This was such an original story and one of my favourites yet. Mara can kill with the power of thought but suffers from this infliction.There's a subtle romance present but it's also quite a dark story without being disturbing. It has everything you want in a novel and even older adults would enjoy it. Read my full review for this book here.

5. Blue Bloods (#1), by Melissa de la Cruz | 

When the Mayflower set sail in 1620, it carried on board the men and women who would shape America: Miles Standish; John Alden; Constance Hopkins. But some among the Pilgrims were not pure of heart; they were not escaping religious persecution. Indeed, they were not even human. They were vampires.The vampires assimilated quickly into the New World. Rising to levels of enormous power, wealth, and influence, they were the celebrated blue bloods of American society. 

The Blue Bloods vowed that their immortal status would remain a closely guarded secret. And they kept that secret for centuries. But now, in New York City, the secret is seeping out. Schuyler Van Alen is a sophomore at a prestigious private school. She prefers baggy, vintage clothes instead of the Prada and pearls worn by her classmates, and she lives with her reclusive grandmother in a dilapated mansion. Schuyler is a loner...and happy that way. Suddenly, when she turns fifteen, there is a visible mosaic of blue veins on her arm. She starts to crave raw food and she is having flashbacks to ancient times. Then a popular girl from her school is found dead... drained of all her blood. Schuyler doesn't know what to think, but she wants to find out the secrets the Blue Bloods are keeping. But is she herself in danger?
This series is best described as a paranormal Gossip Girl style. I can't remember too much in detail as I read these so long ago but it was around the Twilight era and they were definitely superior. The vampire take is original and interesting and it has your usual YA genres intertwined and a great inclusion of suspense and mystery. Would definitely encourage anyone who likes vampire/paranormal novels to give this a go.

Saturday 9 May 2015

REVIEW; Blood and Snow, by RaShelle Workman


Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Recommend: No


Snow White is living in our modern world in Salem. She has her cat Gatsby and is best friends with 7 guys. Resembling the fairy-tale Snow White, with her pale skin and dark hair, she is being forever teased, and when she meets dashing Chase Charming, he understands her pain. 

Just before she turns 16, she falls unconscious, only to wake-up changed. Snow is no longer human, but also not a full vampire. She was bitten by The Hunter who was sent to change her into a revenant.

My Thoughts:

Ohhhhhhh dear. I was quite excited to read this as I really love the modern takes on fairy-tales and sadly I've to admit that whilst I completed the first novella, I failed to finish the volume of them- which is quite rare for me.

To kick this off- 

  • Insta-Love. My pet hate so I'll say no more. 

  • Girl character that doesn't realise everyone likes her and how pretty she is. 

  • Has 7 gorgeous guys as best friends, who all fancy her, but she's clueless.

  • Her best friend is sooooo much prettier than her and into makeup etc.

These things are all present quite early on which just put me in a bad mood with the novel before it even had a chance. I DESPISE these aspects in YA novels- they're in everything and not interesting or endearing. Just no! Please authors- STOP!

As I didn't complete this I've no idea how great it ended up being but the whole vampire/fantasy stuff started off pretty suddenly. It seemed bearable to begin with and I was looking forward to how the vampire story would be integrated into everything... Didn't expect it to hit like a 12 tonne freight lorry. 

It was made worse by everyone's reactions to it; those who knew and those who'd no idea and how "special" Snow was meant to be.

The writing was all over the place as if words were thrown on a page to fill space. Describing an action like the following:

"He grabbed a set of keys off a hook on the wall that said, coincidentally, KEYS."

Random actions of romance or flirtation thrown in to "hint" at feelings:

"Pressing me closer, he said, 'You aren't always going to think of me as a brother. Someday, Snow. You'll see me the way I see you." 

Just no. Not even going to begin with the punctuation but no guy would ever say that to a girl with no prompting and Snow must be so thick if she can't comprehend what he means. It all just appeared fake and as if written by a clueless child trying their hand at writing. 

The first "book" ended so randomly, it all could've just been an introduction. It was too choppy between subtle romance, new guy, vampires etc. 


As I didn't manage to complete all the stories, I can't really give much feedback, other to not enjoying what I did read. Maybe I'll give it another shot in the future but for the moment it's remaining unfinished. Cliché after cliché.

Amazon UK

Wednesday 6 May 2015

REVIEW; Down the Wormhole, by Ana Franco


Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology, Romance, Action

Recommend: Yes


Seventeen year-old Kitty arrives to live for a year in the orphanage. Here she meets other teenagers, Natalie and Anna, and Thomas and Andrew across the road in the orphanage for boys. 

However, they're not normal teenagers but Gods from another world, like Medusa and Amergin, hiding in today's reality. Soon, Kitty finds herself swept up in their worlds and fighting a magical battle against other evil Gods whilst also discovering love. 

My Thoughts:

It's been difficult to formulate clear thoughts on how I want to review this novel. There were some definite pros and cons throughout so I'll just split it up that way...

Negatives (to get them out of the way!):

  • Characters: I didn't connect with any of them to start... We never found out anything about Kitty or why she was  so special that the others wanted to keep her around. She also seemed quite naive and immature considering her age at times and a lot of her dialogue/reactions were quite childish. Same goes for the Gods, although they were hiding in our world, they were hiding as teenagers so it was possible that that was their true acting age or they could've been adults in younger bodies- but they too acted well younger than 17/18 years old at times and didn't seem to possess the maturity and sophistication one would expect from Norse/Greek etc Gods. At the start there was also too much flipping back and forth between their "human" name and their "God" name for me to keep up as to who was who.

  • Writing: Okay, this isn't a major negative- there were some brief typos, I believe a lot less than there were but I was reading an ARC so I don't expect a fully cultivated typo free story. Also, Franco's first language is not English so writing in a literary fashion to a standard of high degree is much harder to achieve. But, I felt there was way too much dialogue at times that skimmed over opportunities to insert a paragraph or sentence or two to just briefly explain what was happening in more detail/ describe the scene. The pace was rather fast and I often had to read back a page to double check where the scene was set and who was actually present at that time as the transitions weren't definitively clear.

  • Romance: I liked the little romance tied into all of this action and suspense but again, it was too suddenly thrown at us with little indication as to why. I didn't gauge from Kitty at all that she'd true feelings for Tom until towards the end after certain events, but felt the reader missed out on the build up of their flirting and chasing and seeing them slowly fall for each other. 


  • Research: What really made this work was the amount of knowledge behind all of the various Gods. I knew very basic amounts re Medusa and Aphrodite and it was quite interesting to learn more about others and how they were all intertwined and brought into the one realm. Franco definitely did research into the mythology behind the characters she included and this was a huge aspect to making the story alive. Put the time in before a word is written and it's a huge bonus to the finished product.

  • Setting: Although at times I was faced with confusion as to where the story was actually taking place, I liked how it opened in The Land Above All Clouds and then took place in our world with parts back in the other realm- down the wormhole! The different worlds really worked and I felt the story fitted together more nicely when in The Land Above All Clouds. It just had more appeal than the drama down in our world.

  • Characters: Although this appeared in negatives, it also deserves to be a positive. I may not have understood Kitty, but I liked the mix of the different Gods, good and bad, and then seemingly regular human Kitty. I think it would've been great if Colin, the other human, had more of a presence just to compare how they integrate with these great Mythological Gods. As an Irish reader, nice having an Irish God thrown in there too to mix up the Greek scene! 

  • Story: Throwing away analysing writing techniques, there was a solid story wrapped up in this. It definitely wins for being original and unique and such a good take on Alice in Wonderland. There was a great mix of casual story with moments of action and suspense and that's what keeps a reader turning the page.


I don't want this to be a negative review, and any negatives I hope came across constructively. I really want to see this novel and Franco do well and I think she's achieved a lot in publishing this piece of work. I'd say the main improvement is just to analyse the pace and pad out the dialogue slightly, whilst also really knowing the characters and what drives them. This would easily be a 5 star novel if those two aspects were improved.

Thank you to Ana Franco for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review.

Amazon UK

Saturday 2 May 2015

REVIEW; Mindspeak, by Heather Sunseri


Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance

Recommend: Yes

Lexi Matthews is 17 and an attendant of an elite boarding school where all the students rate secrecy quite high. The daughter of a leading genetic scientist, her relationship with her father is far from perfect. Lexi can also influence minds but at the cost of always getting a nose bleed. 

Jack DeWeese is a new student but also the son of her father's ex lab partner. He can heal, such as Lexi's broken arm, but he suffers from sickness following. After waryingly befriending Jack, Lexi discovers the death of her father and receives threats that put her in immediate danger. 

Attempting to discover more about her past, she uncovers secrets about herself and Jack and is thrown into a whole new world where she is left doubting if she can trust anyone- even those closest to her.  

My Thoughts:
I definitely wavered between a 3 or 4 star rating for this as there were some extreme strong points but when broken down there are a few negatives...

The writing style is brilliant and such a great read. It's succinct and descriptive to a good degree and draws the reader into Lexi's world quite effortlessly. There aren't too many repetitive phrases or stand-out words, with the novel incorporating an extensive vocabulary.

The characters are all pretty quirky and dynamic, albeit stereotypical- Briana the flirty nemesis, Jack the hot new guy- but they all had personalities that gave them depth and realistic qualities.

Genetics is one of my favourite story-lines so to discover it in a YA novel was such a treat; I love more intelligent inclusions like this to really stimulate the brain and open up minds as to what could be scientifically possible. I wasn't such a huge fan of Lexi's take on viewing herself as an abomination and against God etc... I know it's a controversial issue with designer babies becoming more of a reality, however at times it seemed a bit insulting to the scientists in the real world that are making this breakthrough advances that could be used for the greater good, e.g. eliminating genes with disease etc. But regardless, still an interesting take on having genetically modified clones with healing abilities.

The pacing definitely felt a little all over the place with this. There were good moments of suspense but often the case I had guessed what the "plot twist" was long before it hit Lexi. Then some vital or intimate scenes were too fast and I felt needed more developing time to split up the constant drama.

The romance lacked a lot in this sadly. Although it may not have been a forefront theme, any intimate moments with Jack went as far as "his lips touched mine" or some variance. And yet from these mere shared pecks Lexi and Jack claimed to be in love... 
Really. Can't. Stand. Insta. Love. Especially. With. Teenage. Characters. In. Every. YA. Novel.

Seriously, what is with it? There was no evident connection or chemistry between Jack and Lexi and this was a huge flaw for me. I didn't believe they loved each other, or really even cared. It was just words. Lexi had not dated anyone and somehow she fell for Jack even though he just kept leading her on with promises that he'd tell her everything- soon- and then make up more excuses. He definitely isn't in my list of Book Boyfriends.

Whilst I enjoy a little bit of a cliffhanger to suck you into reading the next in a series, this was too unfinished to warrant it being successful. I'm undecided as to whether I will read the rest of the series as I think in this case it's for younger YA's than myself. The ending was left too open and nothing had really been resolved so it felt like it ended mid way rather than concluding 80% but leaving a little to intrigue. 


This was a predictable YA novel however I still enjoyed the story overall. Although it had some issues that dropped its rating, there is a great theme and plot surrounding genetics. If the romance element was executed to a higher standard (whilst still remaining suitable for targeted audience) it would have definitely scored a 4.

Amazon UK