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!

If I Was Your Girl

If I Was Your Girl

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Amanda Hardy is the new girl at school.

Like everyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is holding back. Even from Grant, the guy she’s falling in love with.

Amanda has a secret.

At her old school, she used to be called Andrew. And secrets always have a way of getting out.

A book about loving yourself and being loved for who you really are.

Thoughts:

I’m a big fan of everything diverse and I knew If I Was Your Girl had a transgender character at the heart of the story. Whilst this isn’t my favourite book on the topic, it was a decent read that didn’t take me long to read at all. As you’re reading it, you want to learn more about the LGBTQIA community and it certainly made me feel empathetic towards them.

If I Was Your Girl centres around Amanda, who is a transgender girl. All she wants is to get through school without being picked on. She has recently moved to a new school to finish her senior year. At first, things go really well for Amanda. She’s totally accepted as a girl (they don’t know otherwise), she makes friends and also gets a boyfriend. Amanda is in a great place, but she’s always torn between keeping her happiness and telling the truth about her past to her boyfriend.

This book really didn’t have much action at all. It just plodded along. It was quick enough to read and I loved the main character. It just didn’t have as much oomph as I would like it to have. It’s not a book that necessarily stands out in the genre, however, it’s still a book that I believe many will enjoy. It’s got a sweet romance and a wonderful main character.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Not what I expected- but a sweet, important story nevertheless!

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

Countless

Countless

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Bloomsbury

Synopsis:

When Hedda discovers she is pregnant, she doesn’t believe she could ever look after a baby. The numbers just don’t add up. She is young, and still in the grip of an eating disorder that controls every aspect of how she goes about her daily life. She’s even given her eating disorder a name – Nia. But as the days tick by, Hedda comes to a decision: she and Nia will call a truce, just until the baby is born. 17 weeks, 119 days, 357 meals. She can do it, if she takes it one day at a time …

Heartbreaking and hopeful by turns, Karen Gregory’s debut novel is a story of love, heartache and human resilience. And how the things that matter most can’t be counted. Perfect for fans of Lisa Williamson, Non Pratt and Sarah Crossan.

Thoughts:

I find books that centre around mental health really intriguing, so I was eager to get to reading Countless. I thought Countless was an incredibly established debut novel. I couldn’t put it down!

Countless is about Hedda, our main character, who suffers from anorexia. Pretty much from the offset, we find out that Hedda is pregnant. We experience Hedda’s battle with what to do about pregnancy. Hedda decides to keep the baby, but realises that she’ll have to start eating to keep the baby healthy.

Countless isn’t necessarily an easy book to read, but I think it’s an important one. Karen Gregory’s writing really made me sympathise with Hedda. I wanted her to pull through and get better both for her baby and herself. I liked that it wasn’t easy for Hedda. I felt like this made the book incredibly realistic. A person suffering from anorexia doesn’t get better overnight. It’s a battle.

I think that Hedda is a very well written character. I felt that she developed so much throughout the course of the story. She was stubborn and strong-willed, but at the same time determined to do right by her child. The only thing that really bugged me about Hedda was her mother! I understand that it must be incredibly hard to have a child that suffers from anorexia, but her mother’s attitude towards Hedda frustrated me on more than one occasion!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think it’s such an important read.  I thought that the representation of mental illness was outstanding. It is a painful, emotional but incredibly sensitive read.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic debut with some strong character development!