The Girls

The Girls

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

California. The summer of 1969. In the dying days of a floundering counter-culture a young girl is unwittingly caught up in unthinkable violence, and a decision made at this moment, on the cusp of adulthood, will shape her life….

Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat.

Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls.

And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways.

Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever?

Thoughts:

I had heard SO much about The Girls that I was somewhat apprehensive to pick it up.I didn’t know much about this book before I read it. I just kept seeing it all over the place. I have since learnt that this book is based on the Manson murders in 1969. I thought that I would enjoy it, but I’m always worried when a book is discussed so much. I worry it’s too hyped and my expectations will be too high. Therefore, I left it a little while. I finally got around to reading The Girls about a week ago. I’m glad I read it, but I don’t think it’s a book that I’d re-read, as beautifully written as it is.

The Girls centres around a girl named Evie who is desperate to be noticed by her peers. Evie notices the girls, some girls who have long uncombed hair and dirty dresses. They immediately intrigue Evie. The story is packed full of sex, drugs and teenage runaways but it’s also much darker than that. Russell is mainly at the edge of the story. It is Suzanne, the leader of the girls, who captivates the main protagonist, Evie. Evie finds Suzanne alluring and is easily led to Russell’s ranch. At the ranch, Evie can become much more grown up and seek revenge against her mother who isn’t letting Evie be herself.

I liked how the narration was split between fourteen year old Evie and middle aged Evie looking back on her life. I wish there had been more about middle aged Evie as I was left with quite a few ‘What If’ questions. Perhaps this was the author’s intention. I felt like the narrations weren’t as connected as they could’ve been, which was a shame.

I found The Girls to be a disturbing read. It unsettled me at times. Emma Cline’s writing really is brilliant. She sets the scene wonderfully and creates the perfect atmosphere for the story. The Girls is an engaging read which kept me turning the pages right from the start.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Definitely an interesting one! Some darker content, so be aware of that!

If I Stay (If I Stay #1)

If I Stay (If I Stay, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

In the blink of an eye everything changes. Seventeen year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall what happened afterwards, watching her own damaged body being taken from the wreck. Little by little she struggles to put together the pieces- to figure out what she has lost, what she has left, and the very difficult choice she must make. Heartwrenchingly beautiful, this will change the way you look at life, love, and family.

Thoughts:

According to Goodreads, I read this book in 2011. What? I even mini-reviewed it which I’ve now deleted as it wasn’t what I thought of this book anymore. I have no recollection of reading this book, but I had given it three stars. I’m glad that I reread it, because I would now rate it four stars. I found If I Stay to be incredibly gripping and moving at the same time.

Mia finds herself watching her body being taken away from a car wreck after an awful accident involving Mia and her family. Slowly, Mia finds out what has happened to her. She figures out what she has lost and who/what she has left. Mia realises that she’s in control of her own fate. She has to make a choice whether to return to her body and live her life or give up the fight…

This was an incredibly emotional read. I couldn’t put it down. I wanted to know more about Mia and the choice that she’d make. The accident is something that really got to me, because it’s something that we often see on the roads today or hear about in the news. It’s one of those things that could happen to anyone. That thought is terrifying. It made me think about losing loved ones and that really broke my heart.

Gayle Forman’s writing is incredibly raw. She easily hooks you in and makes you feel like part of the family. She writes the past and present so well and balances it beautifully. As a reader, you learn more about Mia as the story progresses and learn to love her more. It’s such a short book, yet I felt like I knew Mia really well. The romance is utterly adorable and not easy. It’s not a fluffy, instalove romance, it felt incredibly authentic.

I highly recommend giving this book a go. It’s deeper than you might think and makes you question life!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A beautiful read which really moved me!

Love & Gelato

Love & Gelato

How did I get it?:
I received a copy from Walker Books. Many thanks to them!

Synopsis:

The dying wish of 16-year-old Lina’s mother was for her daughter to live in Tuscany and get to know her father, whom Lina has never met.

“Howard is the best man I’ve ever known,” her mother says, “he’ll keep you safe.” Why did her mother wait so long to tell her about him? Lina has a happy life in Seattle and doesn’t want to leave. Shortly after she arrives at Howard’s home, Lina meets Sonya, who gives Lina a diary that belonged to Lina’s mother, the one she had kept while she was a photography student in Florence. While Lina is living her life and exploring Tuscany with her handsome neighbour, Ren, she follows in the footsteps of her mother and gets to know her as never before. She also finds out the truth about her father. Mostly she finds out about herself.

Thoughts:

I have had Love & Gelato on my radar for the longest time, so I was incredibly happy to be able to read a copy, thanks to Walker Books! It’s a wonderful summer read. I think if you’re a fan of the contemporary YA genre, then this book is certainly for you this summer.

It’s set in Italy and follows Lina. Lina moves to Italy after her mum dies on her mum’s request to be with Howard- a man from the past. When Lina arrives in Italy, she is given her mother’s old journal. Lina starts to read the journal and learns much more about her mum and herself than she had ever anticipated!

I loved following Lina, who I found incredibly easy to connect to. I felt for her, having to deal with the loss of her mother and then have to move to Italy to live with a man that she had only just heard of. Lina really gets herself into awkward situations, but this made her all the more realistic in my eyes.

I was impressed that the author took their time with Lina’s grieving process. She did struggle at first, she did question. She didn’t just move to Italy and everything was magically better. That’s more real to read about!

Love & Gelato has made me want to visit Italy. The author really painted a picture with her words. It left me craving gelato too… I’m definitely more inclined to go to Italy after reading this cute story!

I can’t believe that this book was the author’s debut as it feels incredibly established. I would definitely pick up her next book!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A very cute YA contemporary read. Perfect for the beach!

Follow Me (Social Media Murders #1)

Follow Me (Social Media Murders, #1)

How did I get it?:
I received it from the publishers, Avon. Many thanks to them!

Synopsis:

LIKE. SHARE. FOLLOW . . . DIE

The ‘Hashtag Murderer’ posts chilling cryptic clues online, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police. Enthralling the press. Capturing the public’s imagination.

But this is no virtual threat.

As the number of his followers rises, so does the body count.

Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?

Time’s running out. Everyone is following the #Murderer. But what if he is following you?

ONLINE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM. . .

Thoughts:

I was approached to read this book by the publisher, Avon. They kindly sent me the whole series, in time for the third book coming out. I binge read this series within a week. At first, I wasn’t sure that I was going to enjoy it, but after a slow start to Follow Me, I was soon gripped and desperate to know what happened next.

Follow Me centres around Nasreen and Freddie, two childhood friends. Freddie is a struggling journalist and Nasreen works with the police. Freddie is super internet savvy and finds herself employed by the police as a social media consultant. They have a tough job to try and track down a murderer who is dropping clues on Twitter.

You have to suspend your disbelief at the story line, as I don’t think it’s very likely that the police would employ a civilian or not have someone that wasn’t particularly internet savvy on their team. If you can suspend your disbelief the story really is intriguing. It’s so much fun to read, but creepy at the same time. This book is a really modern crime read. I found the use of social media particularly cleverly done. I loved the use of social media which is so prevalent today. I loved the characters in this book so I was happy to read that they featured in the series.

I don’t think all of the characters are likeable, but that’s what makes a story interesting for me. I don’t always love all of the characters and I think that’s true to life. You certainly don’t like everyone you come across. I’m glad I had the next book ready to read as I was eager to find out what Freddie and Nasreen would do next.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Watch out for the next book in the series Watch Me, coming up on my blog on Wednesday!

A very modern crime read. Slow to start, but worth it!

One Of Us Is Lying

One of Us Is Lying

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Penguin Random House

Synopsis:

Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

Thoughts:

This book was one of my most anticipated at the start of the year. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! I really think it’s a solid YA read that many people who don’t usually read YA would enjoy.

One Of Us Is Lying is set in a high school where we find five teenagers in detention. Those five teenagers are pretty much stereotypical high school characters. You know the ones, there’s smart, bad boy, athlete, popular/pretty girl etc. etc. At first I thought it was going to annoy me. I don’t like reading books with such stereotypes, but it really worked with this book. Simon is also in detention. He runs a gossip app, giving gossip to the rest of the school that is incredibly accurate. This gave me real Gossip Girl vibes. During detention, Simon dies in what seems like suspicious circumstances. Although they aren’t the typical detention students, each and every one of them has a secret they didn’t want Simon to release…

I think you’d especially enjoy this book if you’re into Gossip Girl. Like I said, it definitely has the vibe which I adore. I loved the mysterious element to the story. I really enjoyed trying to work out what had happened to Simon. I did get it right, by the end of the story but that didn’t affect my enjoyment at all. I loved the range of characters within the story and how they all had a reason to want Simon dead.

I think the only reason I haven’t rated this book any higher is because I expected it to be a lot more dark and unpredictable. That possibly says something about me!?

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful, easy to read book. Great for fans of YA and beyond!

Phantom Limbs

Phantom Limbs

How did I get it?:
I received it from Walker Books in exchange for an honest review!

Synopsis:

Otis and Meg were inseparable until her family abruptly moved away after the terrible accident that left Otis’s little brother dead and both of their families changed forever. Since then, it’s been three years of radio silence, during which time Otis has become the unlikely protégé of eighteen-year-old Dara—part drill sergeant, part friend—who’s hell-bent on transforming Otis into the Olympic swimmer she can no longer be. But when Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town, he must face some difficult truths about the girl he’s never forgotten and the brother he’s never stopped grieving. As it becomes achingly clear that he and Meg are not the same people they were, Otis must decide what to hold on to and what to leave behind. Quietly affecting, this compulsively readable debut novel captures all the confusion, heartbreak, and fragile hope of three teens struggling to accept profound absences in their lives.

Thoughts:

I had heard some buzz around Phantom Limbs, so when I was given the opportunity to read this powerful debut, I jumped at the chance. Phantom Limbs is a fantastic, accomplished debut. I was engrossed from the start.

The story centres around Otis and Meg who used to be inseparable until an awful accident in which Otis’s younger brother died. It affected both of their families, leading to Meg and her family moving away. Since the accident, Otis hadn’t heard from Meg. He became close to Dara, a senior, who was training Otis in the hope he would become the Olympic swimmer she always wanted to be. Otis learns that Meg is coming back to town. Both Otis and Meg have to face the past and either move on and away from it or learn to deal with the past, even if it has changed them.

I couldn’t put this book down. I was completely captivated by the characters. I wanted to see if all was going to end well for them. It’s not an easy journey. It’s emotional and Paula Garner really does take you on a journey with the characters. I loved that the characters aren’t flawless. It makes them even more realistic. There’s so much loss, regret, loneliness but there’s also love and moments of humour. It really was a special read to me. It for some reason, just wasn’t a 5 star. I have a feeling it could be for many readers though.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course! 4.5 stars

If you’re a fan of realistic, emotional YA reads then this book is for you!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- A Snicker Of Magic

A Snicker of Magic

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

Midnight Gulch used to be a magical place, a town where people could sing up thunderstorms and dance up sunflowers. But that was long ago, before a curse drove the magic away. Twelve-year-old Felicity knows all about things like that; her nomadic mother is cursed with a wandering heart.

But when she arrives in Midnight Gulch, Felicity thinks her luck’s about to change. A “word collector,” Felicity sees words everywhere—shining above strangers, tucked into church eves, and tangled up her dog’s floppy ears—but Midnight Gulch is the first place she’s ever seen the word “home.” And then there’s Jonah, a mysterious, spiky-haired do-gooder who shimmers with words Felicity’s never seen before, words that make Felicity’s heart beat a little faster.

Felicity wants to stay in Midnight Gulch more than anything, but first, she’ll need to figure out how to bring back the magic, breaking the spell that’s been cast over the town . . . and her mother’s broken heart.

Thoughts:

I saw this book around everywhere a few years back, but for some reason never got around to reading it. I’m pleased that we picked it for our kid-lit challenge. It’s a really cute, magical realism, middle grade read. I don’t think it will be for everyone, but I do believe so many readers will enjoy it!

A Snicker of Magic is about a girl named Felicity who sees words everywhere. She sees them above people, in the air, around the house etc. Felicity lives with her family, but they travel around a lot as her mum can’t settle down for some unknown reason. Felicity and her sister just want to call somewhere home. When they arrive in their mum’s hometown, they wonder if it’ll be the place they finally settle down in. The town has history. It used to contain magic, and some residents believe it still contains ‘a snicker of magic’. As Felicity gets to know the residents, she finds out there’s more to the town and her family than first meets the eye.

This story is incredibly cute. I thought it was so easy to read and the magical realism was fun. It doesn’t have major amounts of plot development, it’s more about the characters. This didn’t bother me though as I liked to read about the characters and their back story.

Natalie Lloyd’s writing is descriptive and whimsical. I think you’ll either really enjoy it or it’ll frustrate you. It really depends on your taste. I think it’s so worth checking out though!

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Reading next in Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (May):
The Sea of Monsters- Rick Riordan