(Don’t You) Forget About Me

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

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Another Little Piece

Synopsis:

Welcome to Gardnerville.

A place where no one gets sick. And no one ever dies.

Except…
There’s a price to pay for paradise. Every fourth year, the strange power that fuels the town exacts its payment by infecting teens with deadly urges. In a normal year in Gardnerville, teens might stop talking to their best friends. In a fourth year, they’d kill them.

Four years ago, Skylar’s sister, Piper, was locked away after leading sixteen of her classmates to a watery grave. Since then, Skylar has lived in a numb haze, struggling to forget her past and dull the pain of losing her sister. But the secrets and memories Piper left behind keep taunting Skylar—whispering that the only way to get her sister back is to stop Gardnerville’s murderous cycle once and for all.

Thoughts:

I have been eagerly anticipating (Don’t You) Forget About Me after absolutely loving Kate Karyus Quinn’s debut Another Little Piece. I was thrilled when Luna let me read her copy of the book. Like Another Little Piece, I think this book will be hit or miss with readers. It’s complicated and a bit messy, but that’s exactly what I loved about Another Little Piece. It’s hard to review this book without giving away too much about the plot! It’s best to go in without knowing too much and going a long for a very crazy and bumpy ride!

(Don’t You) Forget About Me uses dual narration. Dual narration can be a bit hit and miss with me. Sometimes I really like it and other times it just doesn’t work for me. Also, there’s a bit of jumping around in time, which again sometimes grates on me. It’s told in present day but it also uses flashbacks. However, when the pieces fit together, they fit together well. Even if it messes with your mind whilst it does so. I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be frustrating for a lot of readers, but I’m hoping that most readers, once they get used to it, really enjoy the way that it’s told.

I shall attempt to describe what the book is about! (Don’t You) Forget About Me is set in Gardnerville, a place where its residents go to when they’re suffering with their health. Something in Gardnerville means that they manage to live longer and healthier. It’s not a happily ever after for them though as every four years that rolls by a teenager completely loses the plot! Skylar’s sister, Piper, loses control and ends up locked away. Skylar prefers to take Forget Me Nots to conveniently forget about everything that’s happened. She prefers to live in absolute ignorance. However, Skylar begins to realise that she has to know what she’s been trying to forget so has to stop taking the Forget Me Nots. I’ve probably really boshed up that description of the book, but it’s SO hard to try to explain.

As I know from reading Another Little Piece, Kate Karyus Quinn is really a unique writer. She’s definitely an author that stands out from the rest and with good reason to. (Don’t You) Forget About Me had me questioning so much. I absolutely loved it.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

This book isn’t going to be for everyone. It really messes with your mind and isn’t the most straight forward read. If you’re up for that, then pick up this book!

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The Snow Queen (Novella Review)

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How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Five years ago, Cambridge Ballet’s Sugar Plum Fairy vanished after performing The Nutcracker. Despite extensive city and statewide searches, no traces of her, besides her ballet slippers, were ever found. Every year since, another member of the cast has gone missing after closing night: a Spanish Hot Chocolate, an Arabian Dancer, The Dew Drop Fairy, a Flower. Nieves Alba, who as a thirteen-year-old played Clara in the first ill-fated performance, is now cast as the Snow Queen. On closing night, every police officer in Boston surrounds the theater, determined to catch the perpetrator whom they’ve dubbed “The Nutcracker.” Can Nieves break the curse or will she be the next victim of America’s favorite ballet?

Thoughts:

This was an incredibly strange little read and I’m not quite sure what to make of it. The premise really intrigued me so I was excited to pick it up. However, when I started reading it, I wasn’t as gripped as I wanted to be, which shocked me. I’m a massive fan of ballet and I wanted to adore this book, but something didn’t sit right with me. It could possibly because it’s a novella, and I’m not the biggest fan of novellas. I’ll try to explain more though.

The Snow Queen is a novella about the ballet The Nutcracker. Nieves Alba is a member of the Cambridge Ballet. She has always wanted to play the Snow Queen. Strange goings on are occurring within her dancing company. Each year, a different member of the cast disappears. It seems like the disappearances are unrelated but Nieves believes they are. It surely makes sense that they would be connected in some way. When Nieves finally gets cast as the Snow Queen she worries that she will be the next one to disappear, but she’s still desperate to play the role and achieve a dream.

I didn’t realise before I started The Snow Queen that it was a New Adult novel. This of course means there’s more sexual content in the story than you’d get in a Young Adult novel. I don’t have a problem with that, I just went into it expecting something very different. Nieves has an awkward relationship with a character called Misha. Misha was a famous dancer before an injury forced him into becoming a dance critic. He is Nieve’s mentor. He came across as very creepy to me and I really couldn’t see what Nieves saw in him.

I think this novella could have been so much better if it was a full length novel. The problem for me was that it didn’t feel developed enough. It was short and predictable. It could have been incredibly exciting, but because of the length the plot was rushed through.

Would I recommend it?:
It’s not for me!- I wanted to love it because of my love of dance, but unfortunately it felt too rushed for me to fully enjoy.

The Snow Queen has a unique premise but it fell short for me!

Belle Époque

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How did I get it?:
A present from my sister!

Synopsis:

When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new “friend” is the hired help, and Maude’s very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.

Thoughts:

I have been waiting to read this book for a while now, so I’m so glad I finally got around to picking it up. I’ve been impressed with Hot Key Books releases recently and Belle Époque is another little gem for them. It started off incredibly well and very engaging. It’s fast-paced and easy to read but unfortunately for me the pacing slowed down after halfway through and I didn’t find it as exciting. However, I still think it’s interesting book that’s well worth picking up to learn more about this Parisian time period.

Belle Époque focuses on our main character Maude Pichon. She’s run away to Paris, desperate for work and has found herself answering a very unusual advertisement. The agency is looking for ugly people to make beautiful people instantly more attractive! (Harsh!)  Countess Dubern needs a companion for her daughter Isabelle and Maude is the perfect (plain looking) fit. Isabelle has no idea that Maude has been hired for her. As the girls begin to develop a deeper friendship, Maude realises she has a lot to lose.

I was instantly gripped for the first 100 pages of Belle Époque. I thought it was so easy to read and I found it to be absolutely fascinating. I really liked Maude and Isabelle and wished that their friendship had been more genuine. I was gutted for them both when (inevitably, so not much of a spoiler…) Maude was found out. You’ll have to read it to see what happens after Isabelle finds out the truth though…

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

An interesting historical fiction read for Young Adults and beyond. The Parisian era that it focuses on is fascinating!

Salvage

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How did I get it?:
I bought it at Storytellers Inc.

Synopsis:

Aidan Jones was my brother. But I couldn’t really remember his face. I couldn’t remember talking to him or playing with him. He was just a gap, an absence, a missing person.

Before she was adopted by a loving family and raised in a leafy Home Counties town, Cass Montgomery was Cass Jones. Her memories of her birth family disappeared with her name. But when her adopted family starts to break down, a way out comes in the form of a message from her lost brother, Aidan. Having Aidan back in her life is both everything she needs and nothing she expected. Who is this boy who calls himself her brother? And why is he so haunted?

I glance at the paper. There’s a big picture on the front page. A girl with dark red hair. A girl with eyes that might have been green or they might have been grey. I sit down and stare at Cass, and it is her, it is. My stolen sister.

Aidan’s a survivor. He’s survived an abusive step-father and an uncaring mother. He’s survived crowded foster homes and empty bedsits. His survived to find Cass. If only he can make her understand what it means to be part of his family. . .

Thoughts:

I first heard about Salvage from a few British book bloggers. I haven’t read anything by the author before, but Salvage sounded like a gritty piece of UKYA that I really wanted to get into. I’m glad that I picked it up, because I thought it was a fantastic story. It didn’t take me long to get into and as soon as I was into it I tore through the book wanting to find out what was going to happen to the characters I grew to care about.

Salvage is told through dual perspectives. The reader hears from Cass and Aidan who are brother and sister. Cass was adopted by a loving family who gave her the best opportunities. She’s a clever girl, headed for Oxford University. Cass doesn’t remember a lot about her birth family, but when her adopted family starts to fall apart a way into her old life opens up with a Facebook message from her brother Aidan. Aidan notices a picture of Cass in the paper and reaches out to his sister. He has had a completely different life to Cass. He was never adopted. He’s survived many a foster home and bedsits. He wants to make Cass part of his family again, but he has to make her realise what it’s like to be part of his family…

I was really impressed by how the author didn’t hold back at all in this story. She really dug deep into the subject and I think gave a very raw account of  life in foster care. Of course it’s not the same for every person that experiences it and there are more good experiences than bad, but there are some bad experiences out there and I think they deserve to be told in stories.  I also thought it was interesting to see how Cass and Aiden had such different experiences with their upbringing. If we’re being philosophical we could think about it with the nature/nurture debate. Did Cass have a better upbringing and therefore future, because she had more opportunities and much more unconditional love than Aiden?

This book has such interesting, complex characters. They’re not always easy to like or understand, but they’re three dimensional and feel very real. I also think it’s a book that will appeal to both male and female readers, which is brilliant!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Salvage is a thoroughly gripping, gritty read. Perfect for those looking for a deeper piece of YA fiction!

On The Fence

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How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Pivot Point
Split Second
The Distance Between Us

Synopsis:

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Thoughts:

Kasie West is one of those authors for me that can do no wrong! I have loved absolutely everything that she’s had published so far. On The Fence isn’t my favourite read from her, but it’s still a damn good contemporary novel which I believe contemporary fans will gobble up like I did!

On The Fence centres around Charlie who is raised by her single dad and her three older brothers. Charlie is a total tomboy. She’s athletic and knows how to be one of the boys. Yet, when it comes to being a girl Charlie is clueless. Charlie gets a job in a girly shop to pay off a speeding ticket. She begins to experiment in the strange new world of fashion and make up and realises that she quite likes being a girl. She starts spending time with a guy that didn’t know the tomboyish Charlie. Charlie still talks to her honorary fourth brother Braden, over the fence each night as they both offload some troubles. Charlie realises her feelings are deepening for Braden. She’s fallen for him hard, but she’s not sure if she’s just one of the boys to him…

On the Fence is a perfect summer read. It’s light enough to read in an afternoon. There’s friendship, family, a little romance and some wonderful banter along the way.  It definitely made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. It was just cute. I loved the sibling relationships between Charlie and her brothers. It was heart-warming and very realistic. It wasn’t a perfect family, it was a quite shattered family in fact and I loved that they worked through their issues as the story went on.

Kasie West writes truly adorable romances. I used to read a lot of romantic reads, but not so much anymore. However, I can really appreciate a good romance and Kasie West writes GREAT relationships. They never fail to make me smile. I have to say in On The Fence Charlie and Braden’s relationship was predictable, but it didn’t matter to me. It just felt believable and true to the characters.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

An adorable story perfect for those who love a realistic contemporary romance!

Rump

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How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

In a magic kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone’s joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.

To break the spell, Rump must go on a perilous quest, fighting off pixies, trolls, poison apples, and a wickedly foolish queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—he just might triumph in the end.

Thoughts:

I first heard about Rump from Laura who is a fellow book blogger who also dabbles in Booktube. I was immediately interested in the book. I love a fairy-tale retelling/reimagining so this book was definitely right up my street. I’m also into reading middle grade reads at the moment. There really are some gems out there worth discovering and Rump is definitely a gem!

Rump is a retelling of the classic fairy-tale Rumpelstiltskin. It’s so creative and makes you consider what happened to Rumpelstiltskin in order for him to be the horrible creature that he was in the original tale. I loved the ideas that the author came up with. They were completely credible and made me root for a happy ending for Rump. I absolutely loved how there were different fairy-tales tangled up within Rump. Rump’s best friend is Red. Red’s Grandmother is a witch. It’s just very clever! I can’t even begin to imagine how much thought has to go into reimagining these classic tales, but I’m very appreciative of the author’s efforts!

Rump was incredibly easy to read but it did have some moments were the pace slowed down a little. That didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book though.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes- 3.5 stars!

Rump is a fantastic book for middle grade aged children and adults that love clever retellings!

Unhooking The Moon

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How did I get it?:
I bought it at the gorgeous Storytellers Inc

Synopsis:

Meet the Rat: A dancing, football-playing gangster-baiting ten-year-old. When she foresaw her father’s death, she picked up her football and decided to head for New York. Meet her older brother Bob: Protector of the Rat, but more often her follower, he is determined to find their uncle in America and discover a new life for them both. On their adventures across the flatlands of Winnipeg and through the exciting streets of New York, Bob and the Rat make friends with a hilarious con man and a famous rap star, and escape numerous dangers. But is their Uncle a rich business man, or is the word on the street, that he something more sinister, true? And will they ever find him? Hughes has created a funny, warm, unique world that lives and breathes. Like I Capture the Castle, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Curious Incident, Hughes’ story and characters will resonate for many and for years to come.

Thoughts:

Whilst I was intrigued by the synopsis of this book, it was Katie at Storytellers Inc that pushed this book into my hands with the help of Luna. Both Katie and Luna thought it was a great piece of middle grade literature. I really don’t need much persuading so I checked it out. It’s such a sweet, unique read with characters that really warm your heart.

Unhooking The Moon is a story about Bob and his sister, The Rat (aka Marie Claire). Rat is an unusual girl, she makes predictions that come true. After correctly predicting that their father was going to die, the Rat and Bob travel to New York, to find their uncle Jerome DeBillier who they think is a drug dealer. They meet many unusual characters along the way to New York and experience many adventures!

I was surprised by Unhooking The Moon, especially because it is Gregory Hughes’ debut novel. It strikes me as one of the most unique debuts that I’ve read. The story is very original with as I said, some very unusual characters. The Rat herself is such a stand out character. She’s carefree and wise, adventurous and fearless. I get the feeling that she could annoy some, but she really grew on me and made the story what it was. Rat does have strange fits and premonitions. I never really worked her out and her brother Bob doesn’t either. Yet, there’s something about the character that draws you to her.

Unhooking The Moon is quite a hard book to get into, but it’s worth persevering with. It’s definitely got a magical element and reminded me very much of a fairy tale. But it’s not a happily ever after tale. It’s actually quite dark despite being aimed at younger readers. The darkness of the tale does mean any age can appreciate it, if they just go with the story instead of trying to make too much sense of it. The language itself is quite simple, which is refreshing. It definitely makes the story more credible considering it is coming from a pre-teen’s voice.

I’m glad that I was convinced to read this book. I haven’t read another book like it before. I’ll be remembering this book for a while!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Unhooking The Moon is a unique, fairy tale esque read. A fantastic piece of middle grade fiction that adults would enjoy too!