Young adult fiction

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid Lit 2017 – FEBRUARY READ – The Cuckoo Sister by Vivian Alcock

Published February 26, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

“Since the day I found out about Emma, I seemed to have gone to the bad. I was rude. I told lies. I listened at doors and read other people’s letters if they left them about. I was always losing things . . . watches, cameras, and silver bracelets. And whenever my mother reproached me, I screamed at her, ‘Look who’s talking? Who lost her own baby? Who lost my sister? Just because you wanted a new dress?'”

Convinced that her family’s problems will end if only Emma is returned by the person who snatched her from her baby carriage, Kate longs for the older sister she never knew. But when a thin, spiky-haired stranger with hard eyes shows up with a letter claiming she’s the long-lost sister, there’s more trouble than ever. This “Emma” is certainly not the sister Kate imagined.

What did I think?:

The Cuckoo Sister appeared on our Kid Lit list for this year after a strange, nostalgic moment experienced by my sister, Chrissi Reads. This book was one of our (many) favourites from childhood but we hadn’t thought about it for years. One day, she suddenly remembered it and had such a clear picture of what the cover looked like from the copy I had owned leading me to go on a frantic Google search for that exact cover and led to us placing the book on the list for 2017.

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It follows a young girl called Kate who finds out that her parents had another baby before she was born – a little girl that they called Emma. Tragically, after leaving the baby in a pram outside a shop while her mother went hunting for a new dress, the baby disappeared, ruining her parents life. Well, now a girl two years older than Kate has appeared on the family doorstep with a letter from the woman who raised her saying that the child was her sister Emma (although she now went by the name of Rosie) and apologising for taking her all those years ago. Kate has had a picture in her head about what her sister looked like and often fantasised about what would happen when her sister finally returned. However, what turns up on the doorstep is the furthest away from what Kate or her parents could ever have imagined. Is this really Emma, Kate’s long lost sister? And can they learn to be a family again, despite their huge differences?

Well, this book brought back a wave of wonderful memories from when I used to read it to myself and to my sister when we were younger. It was lovely to see the old cover again and it was odd how much I remembered certain sentences, phrases, incidents of text all these years later. For nostalgia’s sake alone, I’m really glad we re-read it. I have to admit however to feeling slightly disappointed regarding the story. So far, with other books we’ve re-read, a case in point being The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, all those old feelings about the novel came flooding back. Not so with this book unfortunately. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved re-visiting a story that I clearly loved as a youngster but for some reason, it doesn’t seem to have stood the test of time. I felt more anger towards Kate for being a spoilt brat in regards to her reaction to her sister and at times, the abominable way she treated her parents and found Rosie herself very difficult to get to know and love as a character. Perhaps it’s one of those children’s books that you can only read and enjoy when you’re a certain age? I’m not sure but it was an interesting re-reading experience and I’m still glad that we chose to put it on the list for this year.

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

COMING UP IN MARCH ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT 2017: Awful Auntie by David Walliams

Everbound (Everneath #2) – Brodi Ashton

Published February 5, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this enthralling sequel to Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love.

What did I think?:

It’s always tricky reviewing the second book in a series so I’m going to try and keep this review as spoiler free as possible! For anybody who hasn’t come across the Everneath series before it’s heavily based on Greek mythology (one of my favourite things) but set in contemporary times. The Everneath itself is the equivalent of the Greek Hades and is ruled over by a Queen (who is slightly more tyrannical than the Greek Persephone). It’s definitely become one of my favourite YA series and not just because of the mythological nod. I love the characters, the plot and the world building – basically, it’s just a darn good read if you like your fiction a little fantastical.

Our main character is Nikki Beckett whom in the first book, experienced all the horrors of the Everneath through Cole, a resident of the area. At the time, her mother had died, she was having problems with her boyfriend Jack and generally wasn’t in a good place. However, visiting the Everneath with Cole came at a price. After coming back to her normal life, she was compelled to return to the Everneath after a period of six months for good and is desperately trying to figure a way around it after she was happily reconciled with Jack. The first book ends with a bit of a bang leaving both Nikki and Jack’s lives in danger. With the help of Cole, she must return once more to the Everneath to save both her and her boyfriend’s lives. Entering the Everneath with the hope of escaping is not going to be an easy task in any way, shape or form. Nikki must penetrate the three barriers of wind, fire and water, avoid zombie-like creatures that wander aimlessly around and the furious Queen if she can possibly help it and manage to escape out the other side, back to the real world with both her and Jack’s lives intact.

This is a brilliant and very strong second book in the Everneath series. I love Nikki as a character, she’s independent and determined and although she has been through multiple traumatic experiences she seems to come out of it relatively scar free with more motive than ever before. I’m not usually a fan of love triangles (cue eye rolling) in YA fiction but I really rate the characters of both Jack and Cole, the latter of which just fascinates me. For Jack fans, there is less of him to savour in this outing but we do get a few flashbacks of the early stages of his relationship with Nikki which was lovely to read. Finally, the world building which I mentioned earlier is just phenomenal and so imaginative. I could really picture the Everneath in my mind’s eye and whilst Nikki is there, the action is full throttle and incredibly thrilling. I’m definitely looking forward to the final book in the trilogy now and will feel a bit sad when it all comes to an end!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

Mini Pin-It Reviews #5 – Four YA Books

Published January 28, 2017 by bibliobeth

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Hello everyone and welcome to another mini pin-it reviews post! I have a massive backlog of reviews and this is my way of trying to get on top of things a bit. This isn’t to say I didn’t like some of these books – my star rating is a more accurate reflection of this, but this is a great, snappy way of getting my thoughts across and decreasing my backlog a bit. This time I’ve got four young adult books for you – please see my pin it thoughts below!

1.) Something Strange And Deadly – Susan Dennard

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What’s it all about?:

There’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia. . . .

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about.

Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper:

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor . . . from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

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Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

2.) The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials #2) – Philip Pullman

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What’s it all about?:

The most magnificent fantasy series since The Lord of the Rings.” — The Oregonian

Lost in a new world, Lyra finds Will—a boy on the run, a murderer—a worthy and welcome ally. For this is a world where soul-eating Specters stalk the streets and witches share the skies with troops of angels.

Each is searching—Lyra for the meaning of Dark Matter, Will for his missing father—but what they find instead is a deadly secret, a knife of untold power. And neither Lyra nor Will suspects how tightly their lives, their loves, and their destinies are bound together… until they are split apart.

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Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

3.) Another Little Piece – Kate Karyus Quinn

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What’s it all about?:

On a cool autumn night, Annaliese Rose Gordon stumbled out of the woods and into a high school party. She was screaming. Drenched in blood. Then she vanished.

A year later, Annaliese is found wandering down a road hundreds of miles away. She doesn’t know who she is. She doesn’t know how she got there. She only knows one thing: She is not the real Annaliese Rose Gordon.

Now Annaliese is haunted by strange visions and broken memories. Memories of a reckless, desperate wish . . . a bloody razor . . . and the faces of other girls who disappeared. Piece by piece, Annaliese’s fractured memories come together to reveal a violent, endless cycle that she will never escape—unless she can unlock the twisted secrets of her past.

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Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

 four-stars_0

4.) Something Real – Heather Demetrios

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What’s it all about?:

There’s nothing real about reality TV.

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.

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Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

COMING SOON ON MINI PIN-IT REVIEWS: Four Books That Fall Into My “Random” Category

Monsters Of Men (Chaos Walking #3) – Patrick Ness

Published January 19, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Three armies march on New Prentisstown, each one intent on destroying the others. Todd and Viola are caught in the middle, with no chance of escape. As the battles commence, how can they hope to stop the fighting? How can there ever be peace when they’re so hopelessly outnumbered? And if war makes monsters of men, what terrible choices await?

What did I think?:

Ah, Patrick Ness. You’ve just gone and finished the Chaos Walking trilogy with a giant bang and I loved every second of it. I actually waited for a while before reading the third book, Monsters Of Men as, to be perfectly honest, I really didn’t want the series to end. It began with The Knife of Never Letting Go which I can only describe as epic and continued with The Ask And The Answer which made me conclude that Patrick Ness is now one of my all-time favourite authors. What then did I expect from Monsters Of Men? Well, I was slightly worried that my expectations were actually too high. Shouldn’t have worried though – the final book in the trilogy was just as nail-biting, thrilling and fascinating as when I first came to the series.

I find it very hard reviewing books in a trilogy, especially after the first book as I’m very wary of giving spoilers for those people that haven’t started the series yet. What I can tell you is this is the story of Todd and Viola who met in the first novel under strained and dangerous circumstances and their friendship and love for each other has gone from strength to strength. I’m not going to re-hash what has happened so far but at the beginning of Monsters Of Men they have been separated and are embroiled in a fierce war against both the Spackle (the native species of the New World – yes, humans in fact are the interlopers!) and the humans who are against the self-entitled leader of the humans, President Prentiss. The novel is told from both Todd and Viola’s perspectives and also from one of the Spackles whom we met in the previous novel which I found particularly intriguing. Todd  must struggles with his conscience, the weight of his past and future decisions and the mind control of the Major whilst Viola begs for peace and is desperately trying to reach Todd.

This book meanders between being very fast-paced and action packed to slower, gentler sections where the reader can pause for breath before being sent into the next battle/exciting incident/devastating repercussion (sometimes all three!). Once again, the author presents us with a mastery of characters, from Todd and Viola who we have already fallen in love with to the villain of the piece President Prentiss to the bloodthirsty for revenge Spackle and the fierce Mistress Coyle (terrorist or freedom fighter – who can tell?). The old saying that war makes “monsters of men,” resonates very deeply especially in this final offering in the Chaos Walking Trilogy and all characters have to come face to face with another side of their personality that they may not have been aware they possessed. The brilliance of the writing and the thrilling plot truly shines through the narrative and I have to admit to being quite bereft when I turned over the final page, especially with an ending that left my heart in little pieces. I will read anything Patrick Ness writes – that is a promise!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Checkmate (Noughts & Crosses #3) – Malorie Blackman

Published January 4, 2017 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Can the future ever erase the past? Rose has a Cross mother and a nought father in a society where the pale-skinned noughts are treated as inferiors and those with dual heritage face a life-long battle against deep-rooted prejudices. Sephy, her mother, has told Rose virtually nothing about her father, but as Rose grows into a young adult, she unexpectedly discovers the truth about her parentage and becomes determined to find out more. But her father’s family has a complicated history – one tied up with the fight for equality for the nought population. And as Rose takes her first steps away from Sephy and into this world, she finds herself drawn inexorably into more and more danger. Suddenly it’s a game of very high stakes that can only have one winner . . .

What did I think?:

Checkmate is the third book in the fabulous Noughts & Crosses series by a woman I’ve come to think of as a YA genius – Malorie Blackman. I am going to try and write this review as spoiler free as I can for anybody who hasn’t started the series yet but it gets harder with each successive book in the series. I heartily recommend anyone who is interested in dystopian fiction, prejudice and racial tension to read these books and discover the magic of them for yourself.

Our main character from the first book, Sephy is back and she has had a daughter, Callie Rose whom she is raising by herself with the help of her mother and Callie’s father’s mother. Callie is growing up in tough times where black people (known as Crosses) are the “superior” race and whites (known as Noughts) are treated with scorn and derision. Callie’s problem is that she has a Cross mother and a Nought father, so in effect is mixed race and suffers terrible prejudice from both sides of the divide. Checkmate is Callie’s coming of age story as she grows up in a hostile world, tries to connect with her often emotionally distant mother and finds out things about her family that may have been better left hidden and may have dangerous consequences.

To be perfectly honest, this book did not have as much of an effect on me as the previous two books in the series, Noughts & Crosses and Knife Edge, Apart from the ending that is, which is quite literally explosive and incredibly tense, paving the way for a potentially devastating final book in the series. I loved Callie Rose as a character and could see a lot of her mother in her young self but found myself becoming quite frustrated with Sephy at times as her wariness around her daughter was truly heart-breaking to read. I loved the way that this novel was told from the perspective of multiple characters once again, this is one of my favourite ways to read as I feel it gives you a much deeper insight into the mind of certain characters, especially ones where you can’t quite accept their motives. Say no more….apart from please start this series if you haven’t already and let me know what you think!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

December 2016 – Chrissi Cupboard Month #6

Published December 2, 2016 by bibliobeth

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It’s December. And that means (drumroll please)….. it’s Chrissi Cupboard Month!

Hi everyone! It’s nearly Christmas and what better way to finish off this year than a whole month of reading books loaned to me by my beloved sister, Chrissi Reads? This is what I’ll be reading for the month of December.

One – Sarah Crossan

Gathering Blue (The Giver Quartet #2) – Lois Lowry

Rebel Belle – Rachel Hawkins

Evertrue (Everneath #3) – Brodi Ashton

Into The Still Blue (Under The Never Sky #3) – Veronica Rossi

The Daughter Of Smoke And Bone – Laini Taylor

The Mysterious Howling (The Incorrigible Children Of Ashton Place #1) – Maryrose Wood

The Drowning – Rachel Ward

Follow Me Down – Tanya Byrne

The Art Of Being Normal – Lisa Williamson

As usual, I’m really looking forward to all of these books but in particular, continuing with The Giver series and finishing the Everneath and Under The Never Sky series. There are also a couple of books on this list, namely Rebel Belle and The Drowning that come highly recommended from Chrissi. Here’s to an excellent month of reading!

Banned Books 2016 – NOVEMBER READ – Gossip Girl by Cecily Von Ziegesar

Published December 1, 2016 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Welcome to New York City’s Upper East Side, where my friends and I live, go to school, play, and sleep—sometimes with each other.

S is back from boarding school, and if we aren’t careful, she’s going to win over our teachers, wear that dress we couldn’t fit into, steal our boyfriends’ hearts, and basically ruin our lives in a major way. I’ll be watching closely . . .

You know you love me,

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 Logo designed by Luna’s Little Library

Welcome to our eleventh banned book of 2016! As always, we’ll be looking at why the book was challenged, how/if things have changed since the book was originally published and our own opinions on the book. Here’s what we’ll be reading for the rest of 2016…

DECEMBER – My Sister’s Keeper- Jodi Picoult

But back to this month….

Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar

First published: 2002

In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2006 (source)

Reasons: homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, unsuited to age group

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: As one of the more recent releases, I don’t believe opinions have changed much in the last ten or so years so I don’t agree with any of the challenges to the book. First of all (getting ready to jump on soap box) the homosexuality. There is no reason on earth why homosexuality should not be portrayed in a book, especially one aimed at teenagers. In fact, if teenagers don’t read about the wide variety of people and sexual orientations we have on our planet aren’t they more likely to grow up to be bigots when they’re older? Just saying. Offensive language – I don’t really remember a lot of bad language in the book it either passed me by completely or didn’t offend me in the slightest. Yes, it does talk about sex but I don’t think it’s particularly explicit and no worse than you’d hear on the television or in other forms of media.

CHRISSI: My opinion on this is exactly the same as Beth’s. I think the TV series is so popular and so many teenagers have seen it. I don’t think the book is as explicit. It may have sexual content but it’s nothing more than what they’d see on TV, read in other books or hear from their friends. I think we need to treat teenagers with some level of maturity and if they’re of the age that can handle sexual content, I don’t see the harm in allowing teens to read this book. Would I teach it? No. I wouldn’t deny teenagers the chance to read it though.

How about now?

BETH: Guess what? Same answer. I think the Gossip Girl books are particularly aimed at teenage girls and I don’t think there’s anything in the books that girls wouldn’t hear from their friends or elsewhere. As a result, I think that saying it’s unsuited to the age group is a bit strange. I’m a big fan of the TV series, that Chrissi got me into and while that is slightly more graphic it’s still not something that I would be worried about a teenager seeing. 

CHRISSI: Definitely not now. Teens talk and they can speak in much more graphic terms than teens would experience from reading this book.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I enjoyed it! As I came to the TV series first, a few things were different and surprised me a bit but on the whole I think the series stayed very true to the book in general. I already felt like I knew the characters so well and obviously had the actors faces in mind as I was reading so it was almost like reading a nice, familiar book that I had read before.

CHRISSI: I did enjoy it but I do have a fond place in my heart for the TV series. ❤ I did think of Leighton Meester and Blake Lively particularly when reading about Blair and Serena!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!
CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH’S personal star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Join us again on the last Monday of December for our last banned book of the year when we will be discussing My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult.