Unspeakable

Unspeakable

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Megan doesn’t speak. She hasn’t spoken in months.

Pushing away the people she cares about is just a small price to pay. Because there are things locked inside Megan’s head – things that are screaming to be heard – that she cannot, must not, let out.

Then Jasmine starts at school: bubbly, beautiful, talkative Jasmine. And for reasons Megan can’t quite understand, life starts to look a bit brighter.

Megan would love to speak again, and it seems like Jasmine might be the answer. But if she finds her voice, will she lose everything else?

Thoughts:

I had heard a lot of good things about Unspeakable before I picked it up at YALC in July. I was immediately intrigued by the synopsis, so I wanted to read it ASAP. I thought Unspeakable was a promising debut which didn’t take me long to read at all. It’s really hard to pinpoint the topic of this book. It’s a little bit about relationships (including LGBT), family, friends but it also has an element of bullying throughout.

Unspeakable follows Megan who has experienced something so awful that she has stopped talking. It is not until nearer the end of the story that everything is unravelled. Megan is bullied for throughout the story by Sadie, a girl Megan used to be friends with before the incident happened. An ally for Megan is introduced quite early in the story. Jasmine is new to the school and befriends Megan even though their conversations begin as very one sided until Megan begins to write to Jasmine. Jasmine completely turns Megan’s life around, but Jasmine is also suffering from bullying. Someone is out to get her and the girls try to figure out who is messing around with them.

I really enjoyed Megan and Jasmine’s friendship and seeing how it developed over time. It was also interesting to read about how different Megan and Jasmine’s families were. Megan doesn’t come from the most conventional family unit, and it’s clear her mother has her own problems, but deep down she does care for Megan. That’s nice to read about.

Unspeakable did keep me guessing, but I’m not sure the end result was entirely believable, which was a little frustrating and is the reason why I could not rate this book any higher than I did.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Unspeakable is a very promising debut. I look forward to the author’s next book!

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Rites of Passage

Rites of Passage

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Luna’s Little Library

Synopsis:

Sam McKenna’s never turned down a dare. And she’s not going to start with the last one her brother gave her before he died.

So Sam joins the first-ever class of girls at the prestigious Denmark Military Academy. She’s expecting push-ups and long runs, rope climbing and mud-crawling. As a military brat, she can handle an obstacle course just as well as the boys. She’s even expecting the hostility she gets from some of the cadets who don’t think girls belong there. What she’s not expecting is her fiery attraction to her drill sergeant. But dating is strictly forbidden and Sam won’t risk her future, or the dare, on something so petty… no matter how much she wants him.

As Sam struggles to prove herself, she discovers that some of the boys don’t just want her gone—they will stop at nothing to drive her out. When their petty threats turn to brutal hazing, bleeding into every corner of her life, she realizes they are not acting alone. A decades-old secret society is alive and active… and determined to force her out.
At any cost.

Now time’s running short. Sam must decide who she can trust… and choosing the wrong person could have deadly consequences.

Thoughts:

I have to be completely honest, I judged this book by its cover. It totally wasn’t what I expected. I’ll admit, I thought it was a New Adult/Fifty Shades-esque book but it’s not. It’s really not!

Rites of Passage centres around Sam McKenna who comes from a military family. Sam feels like the military is where her life is heading. Sam is dared by one of her brothers to be in the first class of females accepted into the Denmark Military Academy. Sam takes him up on the dare, and after his death knows she must honour the dare. Sam knows life is going to be tough at the Academy, but she’s not prepared for the brutal behaviour she experiences. Some guys at the Academy will go to extreme lengths to ensure that a female doesn’t succeed.

Rites of Passage is action packed, filled with tension and a little bit of forbidden romance, but I didn’t feel the romance was at the forefront of the story. I’m so pleased that I decided to give this book a go. It really swept me up in the emotions. I actually felt really annoyed for Sam, who had to put up with terrible sexism. The attitudes of some of the guys really frustrated me. Sam is such a well written, strong character. I’m not sure many people could have put up with the abuse she did and still keep their head up high. She’s definitely a character that I will remember for quite some time.

This book is fast paced and tense. So much goes on that you just have to hold on and go along for the ride. There’s family drama, relationships, fighting and plotting. Joy Hensley is a fantastic writer and I look forward to reading what’s next for her!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Not what I expected at all. I certainly will be giving dodgy covers a go in the future! 😉 

The Break-Up Artist

The Break-Up Artist

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Luna’s Little Library

Synopsis:

Becca knows from experience the damage that love can do. After all, it was so-called love that turned Huxley from her childhood best friend into a social-world dictator, and love that left Becca’s older sister devastated at the altar. Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Becca strikes back—for just one hundred dollars via PayPal, she will trick and manipulate any couple’s relationship into smithereens. And with relationship zombies overrunning her school and treating single girls as if they’re second-class citizens, business is unfortunately booming. Even Becca’s best friend, Val, has resorted to outright lies to snag a boyfriend.

One night, Becca receives a mysterious offer to break up the most popular couple in school: Huxley and raw football team’s star player, Steve. To succeed, she’ll have to plan her most elaborate scheme to date—starting rumors, sabotaging cell phones, breaking into cars…not to mention sneaking back into Huxley’s good graces. All while fending off the inappropriate feelings she may or may not be having for Val’s new boyfriend.

No one said being the Break-Up Artist would be easy.

Thoughts:

This book seemed to be around everywhere in 2014. For some reason I didn’t seem to get around to it around its release when it was prominent in the blogosphere. I’m glad I borrowed a copy from Luna though, as I thought it was a fantastic, easy to read contemporary book.

The Break-Up Artist centres around Becca who is feeling rather bitter about love after having her best friend abandon her for a boyfriend (this happens often to girls!) and experiencing her sister’s trouble with love after being jilted at the altar. Becca decides to do something about it, and for some money, Becca becomes The Break-Up Artist. People pay her to break up couples. Becca has to do some devious stuff to break up couples. Becca learns that love can be even more complicated than she had ever anticipated.

I really enjoyed The Break-Up Artist. I was expecting it to be a little cheesy, but it really wasn’t. I could totally understand where Becca was coming from. I could see her motivation behind breaking up couples, even if I didn’t really agree with it. What I enjoyed about this book was that it does have some depth to it. It’s real in the way it does explore how having a boyfriend/girlfriend seems to define you in secondary/high school. I know from my experience of secondary school, having a boyfriend or girlfriend was one of the most important things and it’s sad that it is this way.

The Break-Up Artist is fun and easy to read. It’s not fluffy, it deals with commitment and relationships in a real manner. Becca’s voice is accurate and believable. It surprised me!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A great book which has hidden depth!

Boy In The Tower

Boy In The Tower

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Luna’s Little Library

Synopsis:

When they first arrived, they came quietly and stealthily as if they tip-toed into the world when we were all looking the other way.

Ade loves living at the top of a tower block. From his window, he feels like he can see the whole world stretching out beneath him.

His mum doesn’t really like looking outside – but it’s going outside that she hates.

She’s happier sleeping all day inside their tower, where it’s safe.

But one day, other tower blocks on the estate start falling down around them and strange, menacing plants begin to appear.

Now their tower isn’t safe anymore. Ade and his mum are trapped and there’s no way out . . .

Thoughts:

I have to admit that I didn’t know much about Boy In The Tower when I picked it up. Luna had recommended it to me, so I knew it was going to be good. I thought Boy In The Tower was an incredible debut novel. I was absolutely captivated and sped through the book, but at the same time wanted to devour every word. It’s a quite hard book to review, because I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’ll try and get some coherent thoughts down now…

Boy In The Tower is narrated by Ade who tells us about the moments in his story before and after the incident. Ade and his mother are stuck in a tower. Ade’s mother has become unwell and unable to leave his tower due to something terirble that happened to her. Ade begins to look after himself, but worries when life becomes dangerous outside.

Both Ade and his mother are incredible characters. Ade was adorable and so easy to love. I just wanted him to find help and be cared for. I really felt for Ade’s mother too. Polly Ho-Yen really has a way of creating characters you instantly become fond of. There are some fabulous supporting characters too, who contribute wonderfully to a story which at the heart of it is friendship.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

I wasn’t sure where the book was going, but I ended up absolutely adoring it! Highly recommended.

The Dolls (The Dolls #1)

The Dolls

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Luna’s Little Library

Synopsis:

Peregrine Marceau and Chloe St. Pierre are the Dolls. Impossibly beautiful and dangerously powerful, they hold the town of Carrefour under their spell. Yet newcomer Eveny Cheval is not so easily swayed by their glamour – until she discovers she is a Doll too. And when a killer sneaks past the locked gates of Carrefour, only the Dolls’ combined powers can stop the murderer in their midst.

Sultry, seductive, irresistible… welcome to Carrefour.

Thoughts:

I hadn’t heard much about this book, but I have to say, the cover immediately pulled me in. I had to read it! I found it to be really engaging and interesting to read. I was surprised to see that a lot of my blogging friends haven’t enjoyed this book, but this is why I try to form my own opinion, because I actually really enjoyed this book and I’m glad that I wasn’t convinced to leave it alone.

The Dolls centres around Eveny Cheval and her Aunt Bea. Eveny and her Aunt are moving to Carrefour, where they used to live before Eveny’s mother committed suicide. Eveny gets the feeling that Carrefour is a creepy, dark place to live despite how beautiful it looks and she’s right to be cautious. Strange things happen in Carrefour. Eveny meets a group of teenagers who are know as ‘The Dolls’. She finds out that she used to play with them when they were all younger. She feels connected to them, especially Peregrine and Chloe. Eveny doesn’t trust ‘The Dolls’, but she needs to learn to be with them or at least around them if she wants to know more about her past and what might happen to her in the future. The Dolls is full of intrigue, mystery and murder.

I devoured The Dolls. There was something about it that completely captured my attention. I thought it was a really intriguing storyline and I desperately wanted to know more about it and why Carrefour was as creepy as it felt. The atmosphere in this book is built at a good pace. I couldn’t wait to find out what was going on. I can see why some readers have had trouble with it though. There are some moments that were a little bit too unbelievable or some of the actions were definitely worthy of an eye roll. However, I liked that it was dramatic and over the top. I think it really fit the feel of the story.

The characters were developed well, with some characters I liked and some I really disliked, however, I don’t think there were many stand out characters. This is something that could progress as the series continues. ‘The Dolls’ were very, very shallow, which got a little annoying at points, but it really fit with the story and it didn’t annoy me enough to affect my enjoyment. I just exercised the eye rolling a little more.

I initially thought I was going to give this book five stars, but when I came to review it, I realised how much I disliked the insta love aspect of this book. I don’t like insta love. I’ve said it so many times now, here on my blog. I just think it’s so unrealistic and can really ruin a story for me. I think there could have been so much more intrigue built up, romance wise, but it all seemed a little forced for my liking. Yet, despite the insta love, I find myself intrigued to see where the story goes next. I’m not sure if it would be better as a standalone, but I’m certainly willing to give the next book a try.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Not what I expected, but an intriguing read if you can get past the shallowness of the characters!

Comparing ‘Asylum’ by Madeleine Roux

Asylum (Asylum, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it’s a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it’s no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux’s teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

Thoughts before you started reading Asylum?

CHRISSI: I wondered whether this book was going to freak me out. I have a very vivid imagination, so it doesn’t take much to spook me. I’m exactly the opposite to Luna with what scares me.

LUNA: Excited, I’ve been holding on to this for in the run up to Halloween so I’d have a spooky read.

What did you think of Dan, Abby & Jordan?

CHRISSI: I didn’t think they were amazingly well developed characters, if I’m completely honest. I found Dan and Abby intirguing, but they’re not overly memorable.

LUNA: Honestly they felt kind of flat. 😦

Best bit?

CHRISSI: I enjoyed reading the letters/emails that were left…

LUNA: See “favourite character/moment”

Worst bit?

CHRISSI: I felt at times the scenes in the story were dragged on more than necessary. I think it could have been a much more fast paced, shorter story which would have had more of an impact.

LUNA: The pictures. They do not add anything to the book. I’m not sure that the point of them was.

For example the picture of the girl on the bed at the end of chapter 24, there is no mention of a female patient in that chapter. Or the church picture? (Chapter 32) It’s a building, the picture is just a black and white photo of a church – nothing spooky about it. Or the girl on the cover? Again, she does not feature in the story. Most of the photos have little impact and they aren’t unnerving, they feel like an interruption to the narration.

Favourite character/moment?

CHRISSI: The moments when they were in the old room together. It felt creepy and atmospheric.

LUNA: When they found the stairs behind the panel. It had a good set up of ‘this is going to get good i.e. harrowing…‘ I was picturing the room differently from the photo (see above question). I think this is part of why I didn’t get on with Asylum. My imagination was making it way darker than the photos and they would then try to correct me. But anyway I enjoyed the build-up in that scene, the ‘what is going to be lurking’?

Was Asylum what you expected?

CHRISSI: It was less creepy than I had expected!

LUNA: Sadly not. I know it’s a long-running joke/thing that I’m ‘un-scareable’ but based on the blurb I thought Asylum had a good shot as being atmospheric, spooky or at least a little bit unnerving. Someone none of this seemed to happen.

Would you recommend it?

CHRISSI: Yes, but not if you’re looking for a terrifying Halloween read.

LUNA: Not sure. I know there is a sequel, but I’m not tempted enough to find out how this story develops.

The Lost Girl

The Lost Girl

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Eva’s life is not her own. She is a creation, an abomination – an echo. Made by the Weavers as a copy of someone else, she is expected to replace a girl named Amarra, her ‘other’, if she ever died. Eva studies what Amarra does, what she eats, what it’s like to kiss her boyfriend, Ray. So when Amarra is killed in a car crash, Eva should be ready.

But fifteen years of studying never prepared her for this.

Now she must abandon everything she’s ever known – the guardians who raised her, the boy she’s forbidden to love – to move to India and convince the world that Amarra is still alive …

Thoughts:

I first came across this book during a Top Ten Tuesday blog hopping session! I had seen it around many blogs, and decided that I needed to get my hands on a copy! I’m so pleased I did, as I thought it was an incredible debut novel. It’s very memorable. I’m writing this review days after reading it (which I don’t usually do, I usually write straight away or ASAP) and the story has still stayed with me. A sign of a very good book!

The Lost Girl centres around Eva. Eva has been created as an Echo for Amarra. She has been created incase something happens to Amarra. If Amarra dies than Eva takes her place. Eva has to spend her life studing Amarra, learning about the boy Amarra loves to fully prepare herself if she needs to take Amarra’s place!

I was hooked from the start, and found myself questioning whether I would want an Echo created of the people I love. Would it really be like them or would the true soul of the person I loved never return to the Echo’s body? I couldn’t believe how much The Lost Girl provoked such thoughts. Although I liked the idea of an Echo, I did feel sorry for Eva. Being created purely for the process of replacing another is pretty rubbish. Eva’s life was so restricted and not her own. Even when she fulfilled her role as Amarra’s Echo, she had to fight to prove herself. Her life was never straight forward. Eva is a superb character and one that really will stick with me for a long time!

I’m so pleased that I came across this book, because it ended up a 5 star read for me. I couldn’t fault it! I really wasn’t expecting a 5 star read when I picked it up, so my expectations were highly exceeded! I hope to read more from Sangu Mandanna in the future!

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

An amazing, thought-provoking debut!