All the Rage by Courtney Summers Review

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

All the Rage by Courtney Summers

Release Date: 14th April, 2015

Pages: 321

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Format: Hardback

Source: Purchase

TRIGGER WARNING: Rape/sexual assault

Fancy being captivated by a book? Then give All the Rage by Courtney Summers a try. When I wasn’t reading All the Rage, I kept thinking about it and for me that’s a sign of a great book. I’ve been left speechless by this book, so I don’t really have much to say, which, in the end, is a good thing as I want people to experience the book for themselves.

All the Rage is such a powerful and emotional read. Romy, our main character, is one of the best characters I’ve ever read about. Romy is depicted very well and as a reader, I really got inside her head. Just like the topic of the book, Romy is incredibly powerful and her story still lingered with me days after I had finished the last page.

All the Rage really makes you think about western culture and society, how it treats women of all ages and the topics of rape/sexual assault. To put it simply, All the Rage is an outstanding book and one that I strongly encourage other readers to pick up. Every line is so poetic. The characters feel like they are people you could bump into on the street and the relationships between characters, whether negative or positive, have been depicted well. All the Rage is definitely a book that I will return to in the future.

This is, without a doubt, one of the most important books I’ve ever read and, at the time of writing, All the Rage is the best book I’ve read in 2015. I’ve found a new favourite book and a new favourite author.

Favourite Quotes

“You know all the ways you can kill a girl?” (Page 91)

5/5 stars

 – Liz

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

The following synopsis contains some spoilers.

Crowned by Evil.
Bound by Duty.
Divided by Love.

Celaena Sardothien, royal assassin, is the King of Adarlan’s deadliest weapon. She must win her freedom through his enemies’ blood – but she cannot bear to kill for the crown. And every death Celaena fakes, every lie she tells, put those she loves at risk.

Torn between her two protectors – a captain and a prince – and battling a dark force far greater than the king, Celaena must decide what she will fight for: her liberty, her heart or the fate of a kingdom…

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Release Date: 15th August, 2013

Pages: 418

Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens

Format: Paperback

Source: Gift

I’m pointing out the obvious when I say that YA is full of trilogies and series. Sometimes the second books in these trilogies and series suffer from Second Book Syndrome. This occurs when a sequel falls short of its predecessor. I’ve read many YA sequels that fall into that category and I had a feeling that Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas might do the same. Luckily, I was wrong and Crown of Midnight turned out to be a brilliant sequel.

It became clear to me when I read Throne of Glass that Maas is definitely a natural storyteller and the sequel confirmed this. The prose is beautiful and Maas had me feeling many different emotions whilst reading Crown of Midnight. Maas also has the ability to change the way I feel about a character in a second. The characters have been developed extremely well, which is something I’m grateful for, as lately I’ve been coming across a lot of flat and under-developed characters in YA. Celaena goes through so much, Dorian becomes more likeable and is coming into his own and I have no idea how to feel about Chaol anymore. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series just so I can be in the company of these characters again.

I’m going to avoid revealing anything about the plot as I want this review to be spoiler-free. All I will say is that so much happens in this novel, which is another thing I’m thankful for. Some sequels just bridge the gap between the first and final books, with very little happening and characters that don’t develop. With Crown of Midnight, I never knew which direction the plot was going to head in and this kept me on the edge of my seat.

As with Throne of Glass, the world building in Crown of Midnight, is fantastic and I had fun exploring this world along with the characters. I also loved learning about its history and politics, as it helped to make Celaena’s world detailed and appear very real.

I don’t have anything negative to say about Crown of Midnight apart from the fact that there is something that stopped me from loving this book enough to give it five out of five stars. I felt the same with Throne of Glass and, annoyingly, I have yet to work out what that thing is. Having said that, this is a series that I definitely recommend to fans of YA.

4/5 stars

 – Liz

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian Review

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

The following synopsis has been taken from Goodreads.

Postcard-perfect Jar Island is home to charming tourist shops, pristine beaches, amazing oceanfront homes—and three girls secretly plotting revenge.

KAT is sick and tired of being bullied by her former best friend.

LILLIA has always looked out for her little sister, so when she discovers that one of her guy friends has been secretly hooking up with her, she’s going to put a stop to it.

MARY is perpetually haunted by a traumatic event from years past, and the boy who’s responsible has yet to get what’s coming to him.

None of the girls can act on their revenge fantasies alone without being suspected. But together…anything is possible.

With an alliance in place, there will be no more “I wish I’d said…” or “If I could go back and do things differently…” These girls will show Jar Island that revenge is a dish best enjoyed together.

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Release Date: 18th February, 2013

Pages: 368

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Younger Readers

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchase

If you’re looking to read a contemporary YA novel that will keep you hooked from start to finish, then Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian might be the book for you. Burn for Burn is a strong book and the writing is excellent. For me, Burn for Burn was one of those books that I couldn’t stop thinking about when I wasn’t reading it. It was always on my mind. Nearly everything about the novel was perfect and I found the last fifty or so pages to be very gripping – I just needed to know how everything was going to end.

The story is told from the perspectives of the three main characters: Kat, Lillia and Mary. I connected to all of the main characters really well and I went through a wide range of emotions as I read the novel. Many important issues, such as bullying and suicide, have been weaved into the story and this helped to build interesting back stories for Kat, Lillia and Mary. One of the things that I admired about the main characters is that they each had their own distinct voice. I’ve often read YA books that only have one narrator and yet the author struggles to create a well-defined and unique voice for the main character, resulting in many YA narrators from different books and genres sounding the same. This isn’t the case with Burn for Burn. Kat’s voice is definitely the most powerful and I enjoyed reading her perspective the most.

What stopped me from giving the book five out of five stars was the fact that towards the end of the book, things got a little predictable. I was able to work out how the book was going to end but it was still exciting to read. The only thing that I didn’t like about the book was the suggestion that something paranormal is happening to one of the characters. I felt that this particular plot line was unnecessary and I think that the book would have been a better read without it.

Burn for Burn is an addicting read and one that I recommend to YA readers out there. This particular trilogy could very well end up being a favourite of mine.

4/5 stars

 – Liz

The Catalyst by Helena Coggan Review

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

The following synopsis has been taken from Goodreads.

Rose Elmsworth has a secret. For eighteen years, the world has been divided into the magically Gifted and the non-magical Ashkind, but Rose’s identity is far more dangerous. At fifteen, she has earned herself a place alongside her father in the Department, a brutal law-enforcement organisation run by the Gifted to control the Ashkind. But now an old enemy is threatening to start a catastrophic war, and Rose faces a challenging test of her loyalties. How much does she really know about her father’s past? How far is the Department willing to go to keep the peace? And, if the time comes, will Rose choose to protect her secret, or the people she loves?

The Catalyst by Helena Coggan

Release Date: 19th February, 2015

Pages: 448

Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton

Format: Hardback

Source: Purchase

The Catalyst is one of those books with an interesting premise but it turns out to be a fairly average read. The author, Helena Coggan, is a teenager and it shows in the writing. Don’t get me wrong, though. I think that it is fantastic that Helena has achieved a goal of hers at such a young age, especially when many young people are struggling to get started in life. I do feel, though, that it would have been beneficial to have waited at least a few years before publishing The Catalyst as Coggan certainly has potential.

The main character, Rose, needed much more development. This also applies to the rest of the characters in the novel, as none of the stood out and came across as very flat. The relationships between the characters also needed more work. The only relationship that was believable was the one between Rose and her father. The rest of the relationships, such as the friendships between Rose and her best friends, were unconvincing. It was difficult for me to believe in the story when I found it hard to believe in the characters.

With regards to the writing and the progress of the plot, I often felt that I was reading a rough draft, rather than the finished novel. There were many times that the plot felt like it was going in one direction, and then it would suddenly switch and head off in another direction. This became rather annoying. Sometimes the perspectives of the characters would switch unexpectedly and this would leave me feeling confused.

As I previously mentioned, I wish that Coggan had waited at least a few years before seeking publication. I really do think that she should take the time to hone her craft, as she has the potential to contribute something special and unique to YA. Even though The Catalyst is fairly average, I’ll be looking out for more novels by Coggan in the future, as she does have talent to tap into.

2/5 stars

 – Liz

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas Review

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives. But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations.

As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer; she discovers hard truths about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.

As she awaits the judge’s decree, it becomes clear that everyone around her thinks she is not just guilty, but dangerous. When the truth comes out, it is more shocking than one could ever imagine…

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

Release Date: 18th July, 2013

Pages: 400

Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK

Format: Kindle E-Book

Source: Purchase

If you’re looking to read a powerful YA book that is partly inspired by true events, then give Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas a try. I became interested in true crime about six months ago, so I was intrigued by Dangerous Girls, which has shades of the Natalee Holloway case and the trial of Amanda Knox weaved into the story. Dangerous Girls is definitely a good and gripping read.

I was hooked from start to finish with Dangerous Girls. The story is told in a non-chronological order by an unreliable narrator which created suspense and left me wanting to find out exactly what happened. The book is very fast-paced and I liked how Haas also told the story through the use of transcripts, interviews and standard prose, amongst other things.

The characters in Dangerous Girls felt very real and I liked seeing how they developed throughout the novel. The characters contributed to the twists and turns that the novel takes as the story progresses and this was another thing I loved about the book. I never knew what to expect next or if any of my hunches were right.

The only thing that I didn’t really like about the novel was the final chapter. I think that Dangerous Girls would have been better without it. Had the final chapter been edited out, I think that the ending of the previous chapter would have become more shocking, resulting in more of an impact on me as a reader and a better ending overall.

The ride that I experienced while reading Dangerous Girls was a great one. I’ll be reading more of this author’s works in the future.

Favourite Quotes

“Wouldn’t we all look guilty, if someone searched hard enough?” (Page 254)

“Any one of us could be made to look a monster, with selective readings of our history.” (Page 366)

4/5 stars

 – Liz

The Falconer by Elizabeth May Review

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

One girl’s nightmare is this girl’s faery tale

She’s a stunner.
Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.

She’s a liar.
But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she’s leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense the sìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.

She’s a murderer.
Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.

She’s a Falconer.
The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother’s murder—but she’ll have to save the world first.

The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller combines romance and action, steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Release Date: 19th September, 2013

Pages: 368

Publisher: Gollancz

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchase

The Falconer by Elizabeth May is the first book in a trilogy that I’ve had my eye on for some time. I finally got round to reading it at the end of August and I was keen to find out if the book would live up to the expectations I’d held for so long.

The Falconer started off really well. For the first fifty pages or so, the book really held my interest and I was enthusiastic about the rest of the book. After a while, though, my enthusiasm started to wane. At first I couldn’t work out why my feelings towards the book were changing. I was really enjoying May’s style of writing and the voice that she give to the main character, Aileana. I loved the fact that the faeries in this book are horrible and nasty. I thought that May evoked the setting, Edinburgh, really well. Eventually I realised that my main problem with the book is the lack of originality. I’ve read YA books like this before. Putting my positive feelings for the first 50 pages or so to the side, I ended up struggling to finish the rest of the novel.

As I have just mentioned, one of the things I did like is the writing style but this became repetitive after a while and it lost the charm it had at the beginning of the novel. The novel ends on a cliffhanger, which I’m not going to discuss because of the thing we like to call spoilers. All I will say about the ending is that it was poorly written and presented. It definitely needed more development.

Perhaps my expectations for The Falconer were too high. One of my favourite YA series is Julie Kagawa’s The Iron Fey books so perhaps I was unfairly expecting The Falconer to give me the same experience I had reading The Iron Fey series. Even though my high expectations have played a part in my disappointment, I didn’t find anything about The Falconer to be remarkable. There isn’t really anything about the novel that warrants me giving the book higher than the 2/5 stars I gave it on Goodreads. I won’t be continuing with this particular trilogy, sadly.

2/5 stars

– Liz

The Spook’s Secret by Jospeh Delaney Review

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

The following synopsis contains no spoilers for the previous books in the Wardstone Chronicles series.

As the nights draw in the Spook decides to travel to his winter house. His apprentice, Tom, hates the desolate place. There are feral witches in the cellar, menacing creatures stirring on the nearby moors and a sinister stranger threatening Tom’s master.

What does the mysterious stranger want?

Is the Spook’s past catching up with him?

And what dangers will Tom face if his master’s secrets are revealed?

The Spook’s Secret by Joseph Delaney

Release Date: 1st January, 2007

Pages: 480

Publisher: Red Fox

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchase

With The Spook’s Secret by Joseph Delaney being the third book in the Wardstone Chronicles series, I’m going to try and keep this review as short as possible in order to avoid spoilers.

The Spook’s Secret is the strongest book in the series so far. Joseph Delaney had me hooked and I wanted to keep turning the pages as I needed to know what was going to happen next. The style of writing and pacing is consistent with that in the previous two books and Delaney seems to have a knack for writing scary scenes. This series is a middle grade one but a couple of the spooky scenes in this book certainly gave me the creeps!

Each time I pick up the following book in the series, I find myself liking the main character, Thomas, and the way he tells the story a lot more. Other characters like Alice, who annoyed me greatly in the first two books, have developed in a good way as well. The Spook’s dialogue and his mannerisms have become a bit repetitive but perhaps this will change as the series progresses.

One of the reasons I love this series is because of the author’s use of English myths and legends and especially those relevant to the English county of Lancashire. In this series you come across all different kinds of beasties and creatures, which helps to create an entertaining book. I would have loved this series as a kid.

Overall, The Spook’s Secret was a great edition to this series. The plot was interesting enough to keep me up at night and I’m keen to pick up the next book, The Spook’s Battle, soon. This is another series I encourage readers of all ages to read.

Favourite Quotes

“The lad stopped banging at the door and his face turned a bright red. “I asked for you down in the village,” he said, pointing back towards Adlington. “A carpenter came out of his yard and pointed the way up here. He told me to knock hard at the back door.” “Aye, but he said knock, not thump it back into a tree,” said the Spook angrily.” (Page 124-125)

4/5 stars

 – Liz

Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones by Derek Landy Review

Image Source: Goodreads

Image Source: Goodreads

The following synopsis doesn’t contain any spoilers.

Third bone-breaking, belly-busting adventure in the series that puts the “funny” back in… um… funny series. That didn’t really work, did it?

If you’ve read the previous Skulduggery books then you know what the Faceless Ones are – and if you know what the Faceless Ones are, then you can probably take a wild guess that things in this book are going to get AWFULLY sticky for our skeletal hero and his young sidekick.

If you haven’t read the previous Skulduggery books then what are you doing reading this? Go and read them right now, so that you know what all that stuff in the previous paragraph was about.

Done? Good. So now you’re on tenterhooks too, desperately awaiting the answers to all your questions, and instead you’re going to have to wait to read the book. Sorry about that.

Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones by Derek Landy

Release Date: 1st August, 2009

Pages: 412

Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books

Format: Paperback

Source: Purchase

My review of Skulduggery Pleasant: The Faceless Ones by Derek Landy is going to be a short one as this is the third book in the Skulduggery Pleasant series and I don’t want to head into spoiler territory. Having said that, let me tell you my thoughts.

So far, the Skulduggery Pleasant books have been nothing but fun to read. I can always rely on Derek Landy to put a smile on my face as this series is so funny. This might sound a little odd, but it takes a lot for the written word to make me laugh. The humour doesn’t usually come across in the same way that it does when someone speaks the words. Derek Landy, however, has a great sense of humour and I don’t think I’ve come across a funny passage in these books that hasn’t made me smile. The dialogue is definitely the best part about the writing. I wish could write dialogue like that!

The pacing throughout the series so far has been excellent. There are no long and slow sections and there are plenty of action scenes. I never experienced a dull moment whilst reading this book and the ending has left me wanting more. I’m sure that readers of the intended age range for this series (middle grade) would have a blast reading these books. I encourage readers of all ages to give these books a chance, however, as they are so entertaining. I have a feeling I’ll be picking up the next book in the series very soon!

Favourite Quotes

“There’ll be plenty of time for boys when you leave college and become a nun.” (Page 34)

“Sorry, you’re the two strangest people I’ve never seen before that I’ve seen in a long time.” (Page 127)

“A theory is the academic equivalent of a guess.” (Page 206)

4/5 stars

 – Liz