By Your Side

By Your Side

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Thoughts:

Kasie West is one of those authors I go to, when I know I want to read something that’ll leave me happy and it won’t be too taxing to read. I hope that doesn’t sound like an insult, as it’s not intended that way! Kasie West’s books are just easy to devour and I have always enjoyed them. By Your Side wasn’t my favourite Kasie West book, but it was still a decent contemporary read.

By Your Side centres around Autumn. One day, Autumn finds herself trapped inside a library for a long weekend. Autumn isn’t alone. She’s trapped with Dax. Autumn doesn’t know a lot about Dax, but she’s heard rumours that he’s trouble. Autumn has no way of getting out, her bag is in the car with her friend, Dax’s phone is dead… so they just have to stay in the library and live off vending-machine food. Dax doesn’t want anything to do with her, but after a while they begin to warm to one another. After Autumn finds out information about her friend, she experiences a panic attack. Dax manages to get her help. The story follows Autumn after she gets out of the library. Will her connection with Dax last?

I have mixed feelings about anxiety in this book. First of all, I must say I love it when a character with anxiety is represented. I suffer from anxiety myself and appreciate its representation, especially in YA. I loved how supportive Autumn’s family were of her anxiety. I loved that her mum encouraged her to take mental health days and was constantly checking on Autumn’s feelings and emotions. Yes for supportive parents in YA!

On a more negative note, I felt like Autumn’s anxiety wasn’t portrayed in the best way that it could be. I totally understand that anxiety can take many shapes and forms, but I didn’t buy into Autumn’s anxiety. I also couldn’t believe that Autumn’s friends wouldn’t notice she had anxiety? Sure, she was medicated, but in my experience, even with medication it’s still there…just a dialled down version. My friends can still tell that I’m anxious in situations.

Another reason why I didn’t rate this any higher was because not all of the characters felt real enough to me. I felt like I didn’t know nearly enough about Dax to invest in their relationship.

I think this is a book where you have to suspend your disbelief (who gets locked in a library without phones in there…?) and just enjoy for what it is! A cute romance that doesn’t take long to read.

Would I recommend it?
Yes!

Whilst this isn’t my favourite Kasie West book, it doesn’t take long to read, just suspend your disbelief! 

Indigo Donut

Indigo Donut

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Hatchette!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Orangeboy

Synopsis:

A story of longing, belonging and trust. Two very different young people discover who loves them, and who they can love back.

Bailey is 17, mixed race, lives with his mum and dad in Hackney and spends all his time playing guitar or tending to his luscious ginger afro. Indigo is 17 and new to London, having grown up in the care system after being found by her mum’s dead body as a toddler. All Indigo wants is to know who she really is. When Bailey and Indigo meet at sixth form, sparks fly. But when Bailey becomes the target of a homeless man who seems to know more about Indigo than is normal, Bailey is forced to make a choice he should never have to make.

A story about falling in love and everyone’s need to belong.

Thoughts:

I absolutely loved Patrice Lawrence’s debut novel Orangeboy, so when I had the opportunity to read Indigo Donut I jumped at the chance. I also bought myself a copy, because I knew it was going to be an amazing read. It really was! I think Patrice Lawrence has just become one of my auto-buy authors. Her writing is exceptional. Indigo Donut is everything I look for in a story. Gripping, many layers, complex and most importantly for me, it has great heart.

Indigo Donut is about a girl named Indigo who is in foster care. She is fed up of everyone thinking they know everything about her, due to being in the press after being found by her mum’s dead body when she was a toddler. It was said that Indigo’s father killed the mother. Her father was imprisoned. Some of the girls at Indigo’s new school pick up on Indigo’s background and use it to torment her. (These girls actually enraged me whilst I was reading!) But then Bailey’s story line began to pick up! ❤ Bailey is known for his ginger Afro and his ‘cool’ dad who happens to be a social worker. Bailey can’t put up with the bullying and sticks up for Indigo. From that day on, Indigo and Bailey grow closer. Indigo’s early life is a mystery and Bailey is intrigued, especially after a run in with a homeless man that seems to be stalking them…

I thought Indigo Donut was an absolutely stunning piece of fiction. It really explored family and identity. I grew to love both Indigo and Bailey throughout and loved following their stories and their relationship. I adored Indigo’s foster mother. Patrice Lawrence really has a way of making you fall for her characters and root for them.

Patrice Lawrence’s writing is simply beautiful. There was a wonderful analogy about a donut.

‘She was like one of those donuts from the cheap shelves in supermarkets. Everything seemed all right until you bit into the middle and there was just nothing.’  – Indigo Donut

This quotation really spoke to me and completely sums up why I enjoy Patrice Lawrence’s writing. I could absolutely imagine how Indigo felt about herself.

‘Though when she was with Bailey last night, it was like there’d be something else inside her, something sweet and good. Not filling the space all the way up, but enough. You think there’s nothing there and then the first splodge of jam hits your tongue. You just want to smile.’- Indigo Donut

❤ I just adore Patrice’s writing. In just a few sentences, she totally captured Indigo’s feelings and my heart. I can’t help but rave about this book. It totally exceeded my expectations. More please!

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

‘Donut’ miss this book!

Lola Offline

Lola Offline

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Hatchette Books

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Love And Other Man-Made Disasters

Synopsis:

Delilah Hoover has gone dark.

She’s left school, changed her name and moved to Paris. It’s not what she planned but there’s no other choice, because she did something bad. Something nobody will forget. It made her trend on Twitter, and it’s the first thing that comes up when you google her.

Paris is a new start, with new friends – like socially inept geek Ben, keyboard warrior Vee, and the impossibly perfect Tariq, but could the City of Lights offer more? Awkward dates, accidental afternoon drunkness and a perfect kiss; Delilah’s life as a normal teenager is seemingly back on track, or is it?

Sometimes learning to be happy with yourself is the hardest lesson of all.

Thoughts:

Sometimes I love to read books that I know won’t take me long and they’ll be enjoyable. I thought this would be the case with Lola Offline and it really was. Lola Offline was a quick and easy to read book which will be perfect for fans of teenage fiction, especially those into social media.

It centres around Delilah. Delilah makes a stupid mistake online (like so many of her age and beyond!) she jokes about something and it is taken seriously. Delilah is labelled a racist and shunned by her peers. Delilah decides that she wants to start afresh somewhere. She moves to Paris. A fresh start. Delilah now goes by the name of Lola, leaving her past behind so that her new friends can’t google her and find out about her past that shames her. Lola meets some new friends and falls in love with Paris. However, Lola’s life isn’t back on track as it doesn’t take long for the truth to come out. Lola’s new peers react in different ways. Lola (Delilah) really has to learn about herself and how she can be move on from her past and be genuinely happy once more.

I thought this was a decent read which highlighted the issues around social media. It’s not just social media, sometimes words can be completely taken out of context even when they’re vocalised.I think this is such an important read for the modern day teenager who can quite often spend a lot of their time on social media. It’s about the perils of social media and how one comment can go viral easily and affect your life.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

It’s a story about how words can hurt more than just yourself. 

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!

Heartless

Heartless

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Thoughts:

I am a big fan of the Lunar Chronicles series, so I was super excited when I heard that Marissa Meyer was bringing out a book that centred around Alice In Wonderland. I love a reimagining. Then reviews started to come out and I was feeling a little anxious about reading it! They were so mixed. So, I stepped back from the hype for a while and decided to read it when the hype died down.

Heartless is inspired by the Queen of Hearts made famous by Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland. It centres around Catherine, who is the daughter of a Marquess. She is expected to marry well and live the life of a lady. Catherine is a dreamer and wants to own a bakery and create delicious recipes for the people of Hearts. Catherine has been dreaming about a man and finds herself meeting him… he’s the new court Joker, Jest. Catherine is completely drawn to him even though he’s not what her family want more for her. Catherine is being courted by the King. He wants to marry her. Her family don’t give Catherine a choice. She must marry the king or lose her place in the family.

I liked so many things about this book, especially the characters. I really enjoyed Catherine as a character and loved that she wanted to do her own thing. I also loved reading the descriptions about the yummy goodness that she was baking. I adored her friendship with her maid Mary Ann and I was rooting for them to open their bakery together. I also really liked the character of Jest. I thought he was fabulous, although I didn’t really get on board with their romance. It was a little too instalove for my liking. I thought Cheshire was amazing too. The setting was fantastic and I could picture it easily in my mind.

I do think that this book suffered from being a little slow paced. I wanted a bit more action, much like the Lunar Chronicles. It being a standalone, I expected it to be incredibly action packed but it wasn’t. I was disappointed by the instalove too. Cath and Jest instantly connected and were infatuated and I couldn’t really understand why!

I’m glad that I gave this book a go! It didn’t blow me away but it was still a decent read.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

This book is a good example of why you shouldn’t let mixed review sway you!

Damage

Damage

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously read by the same author:

Synopsis:

Outwardly confident, skater girl Gabi cannot move past a traumatic incident – and turns to self harm to take away the pain.

Thoughts:

I absolutely adore Eve Ainsworth’s work because she writes about hard-hitting subjects. I was excited to get my hands on it. With Damage Eve explores the main protagonist’s slide into self-harm.

Gabi, the main protagonist, is suffering from grief after the loss of her grandfather. Gabi’s home life is a bit of a mess. Her parents own a pub and don’t seem to have much time for her. Her relationship with her mother is strained. Gabi begins to self-harm as a release from the pain that she’s feeling inside. Cutting herself gives Gabi short relief from her struggles. Gabi knows she shouldn’t be hurting herself, but can’t help it.

I thought this book was fascinating because as a reader, we got to see Gabi’s slide into self-harm. It didn’t start with self-harm, we saw the spiral. It certainly made me understand why Gabi felt like there was no way out. As a reader, we don’t have to work out Gabi’s reasons, it is made clear.

This book is intriguing to read because it’s not just Gabi that’s ‘damaged’.  Almost every single character is flawed in some way. They all have their own issues and whilst not all of them are explored or resolved, it makes every character inherently human.

I don’t think this is the best book on characters that self-harm, but it is still a decent read and it doesn’t take long to read at all! It’s worth picking it up.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A decent read with some very realistic characters!

The Graces (The Graces #1)

The Graces (The Graces, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

Thoughts:

I had heard so much about this book including hearing Laure Eve reading from it at a Faber event. Goodness knows why I’ve only just got around to it. It immediately gripped me and I finished it within a day!

It centres around three siblings (The Graces) who are incredibly intriguing to the rest of their peers and their town. Every single person wants to be seen with them. However, people are scared of them. There’s a rumour going around that they are a family of witches. River, our main protagonist, is really intrigued by The Graces. She’s determined to find out everything about them and become part of their gang, no matter what it takes…

I was immediately intrigued by this book. I found River to be an utterly fascinating character. I didn’t know what she was going to do next! I began to develop some mixed feelings about River, and I’m still not entirely sure what I make of her. I felt for her in the beginning and then she turned a little bit obsessive. I’m intrigued to see how River’s story continues… I liked getting to know The Graces through River’s eyes. They had their secrets and River got close enough to know more about them. The Graces were so interesting. I liked them more as the story progressed.

The Graces is about obsession. It’s got a slice of magic and witchcraft and even a little bit of romance. It’s not a flawless read and I found it a little slow at points, but I was still intrigued to see what was going to happen next. I’d definitely pick up the sequel too!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful page-turner. Super intriguing and well worth a read!