MADE YOU UP

Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8 Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex fights a daily battle to decipher what is real and whamade you upt is not.  And after an extremely unfortunate incident, Alex is ready for a fresh start at a new school where no one recognises her. Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love. But her inability to separate her delusions from reality is always just under the surface, and it could have disastrous consequences for the people closest to her. 

 

 

I got Made You Up for Christmas, and it’s taken me all this time to finish it. (Mainly because I read a bit, put it down, and got distracted by life and other books before grudgingly deciding I should probably start reading it again.) I managed to get through it quite quickly, but not because it was a page-turner, but because I was keen to get through the thing. Because if I’m completely honest… nothing about it really grabbed my attention.

The premise intrigued me. I liked the idea of trying to work out if the people and situations Alex encountered were real or not, but this presented itself as a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it gave an insight into the mindset of someone suffering from schizophrenia and what a terrifying experience that must be, but on the other, it was difficult to get invested in any of the characters on the chance they might only exist in her head – helped along by the fact some weren’t as fleshed out as they could have been. (I did have a theory on one character which turned out to be true, but like I said, I was suspicious of all of them.)

I hoped there’d be a stronger storyline to run alongside Alex’s personal struggles…but what was the plot, exactly? Vague suspicions based on paranoia without any definitive crisis? Exciting.

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ONE OF US IS LYING

    ~Five students walk into detention. Only four leave alive.~

OOUIL

Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.

Sports star Cooper only knows what he’s doing in the baseball diamond.

Bad boy Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.

Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life. 

And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious app at Bayview High, won’t ever talk about how any of them again.

He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it’s no accident. All of them are suspects.

 

A geek, a jock, a criminal, a princess. As Simon comments early on:

“You’re all walking teen-movie stereotypes.”

It had me thinking of a dark, murderous version of The Breakfast Club, especially with that title. (Talk about chills!)

One of Us Is Lying is told in first person, and switches between the perspectives of the main characters. Given that there are four of them and that multiple perspectives are told within a single chapter, I was a bit worried that Bronwyn and Addy, or Cooper and Nate would sort of merge together if their characters weren’t defined enough, and I’d forget who was who and who was doing what (if that makes sense.) So the first few chapters were a bit of a warm-up in getting used to the characters, but as each narrative voice was clear and distinct, there wasn’t an issue.

The plot kicks off from the first chapter, with the characters handling their own sub-plots as the main storyline progresses. What I liked was that even though the subplots were focussed on their own storylines, they still helped to move the main plot along in someway, as they’re all linked together (which is as close to a spoiler you’re going to be reading here!) Obviously these sub-plots were mainly focussed on character development, and given the stereotypical outline of the four protagonists, you can sort of see how their characters would change toward the end of the novel (almost a stereotype in itself) but I wasn’t mad about it.

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DEATH IN DEVON

Cream teas! School dinners! Satanic surfers! Join our heroes as they follow up a Norfolk mystery with a bad case of … death in Devon.    death in devon

When Swanton Morley, the People’s Professor, is invited to give a speech at Rousdon school he packs up the Lagonda for a trip to the English Riviera with his daughter and assistant.  But when the trio arrive they discover that a boy has dies in mysterious circumstances. Was it an accident or was it – murder?

 

Murder mysteries set in Devon might be Agatha Christie territory, but I figured one mystery novel is the same as any other. And I was going on holiday there soon, and as it had Devon smack in the middle of the cover, I thought it was a great option to take with me.

Death in Devon is the second in a series by Ian Sansom – the first being The Norfolk Mystery – with plans, it looks like, to write a novel for each county. (And there are a LOT of counties. So a long series, if that’s where Sansom’s taking it.) The end of my edition mentions the third instalment being set in Westmorland, so the series has continued past the second book, which, if I’m honest, surprised me. I’m honestly not sure it’s compelling enough for readers to want to follow through however many books there’ll end up being, because I’d honestly lost all interest loooong before the end.

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THE LARK

It’s 1919 and Jane and her cousin Lucilla leave school to find that their guardian has gambled away their money, leaving them with only a small cottage in the English 20180527_222919 (1) countryside. In an attempt to earn their living, the orphaned cousins embark on a series of misadventures – cutting flowers from their front guardian and selling them to passers-by, inviting paying guests who disappear without paying – all the while endeavouring to stave off the attentions of male admirers, in a bid to secure their independence. 

I only knew Nesbit as a children’s writer from her popular novels The Railway Children, and Five Children and It (neither had interested me when I was younger so I’ve never read them), but it was during a university module that I was introduced to some of her other work – a collection of short stories titled The Book of Dragons. For such an old book, I was surprised by its contemporary feel and the sense of humour you might not expect from a female writer of the 19th century, especially in a book for children. I had no idea about her other short story collections or adult novels, but was keen to see what they were like, so when I saw The Lark as part of The Penguin Women Writers series, I had to get it.

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THE HAZEL WOOD

Alice has spent most of her life on the road, always one step ahead of the strange bad luck biting at her heels. but when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her isolated estate – the Hazel Wood – Alice discovers how bad her luck can really get.

Her own mother is stolen away – by a figure who claims to come from the supernatural world where the fairy tales are set. Alice’s only clue is the message left behind:

STAY AWAY FROM THE HAZEL WOOD

To rescue her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began…


This was one of those books I saw advertised all over the place, but despite the gorgeous cover, what swung it for me was the mention of dark fairy tales (yes please!) I had in mind something on par with Paedar O’ Guilin’s The Call, or Holly Black’s Tithe series. I was excited by the potential of discovering a new favourite book (and author). It’s beautifully written, the prose almost poetic, but to a point where I feel the inner dialogue doesn’t quite read naturally, and how I think opinions of The Hazel Wood may be divided.

 

I kept my eyes on the art deco elevator, so beautiful I wanted to cut it up into bracelets.
I schooled my expression to flatness, but when the elevator doors slid open, my vision blurred over with tears. Finch’s familiar face looked like an island to a drowning swimmer.

 

The writing style – although its best feature – did occasionally take me out of the novel, making me question Alice’s internal voice. I’d say this is something you get used to; more a point of familiarising yourself to Melissa’s style of writing, until your focus shifts more on the plot.

Which might take a while.

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REBEL BELLE

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength, and lethal fighting instincts. And just when she thinks life cant get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy, and possibly Harper’s least favourite person. Things get even more complicated when Harper starts falling for him – and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth. 

 

 

I picked up Rebel Belle because I was intrigued to read about a strong female character (with a girly side), and found the concept of a girl who has to save the boy a refreshing change. It made me think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (minus the vamps), and I was sold! Okay, so I was a little put off by the ‘chosen one’ cliché and the fact she falls for the male character, but at least where that’s concerned, he isn’t described as good looking (at least where his clothes are concerned), and Harper only sees him as physically attractive after falling for him as a person. Which is preferable to the oft used instalove, am I right? Continue reading REBEL BELLE

THE CALL

On her birthday, Nessa finds out the terrible truth about her homeland, Ireland – the truth that will change her future forever. That she and her friends must train for the most dangerous three minutes of their lives:

THE CALL52EE69FE-47FB-4B7D-A961-16E1FB2FF90A

That any day now, without warning, they will each wake in a terrifying land, alone and hunted, with a one in ten chance of returning alive.

And it is Nessa, more than anyone, who is going to need every ounce of the guts, wit, and sheer spirit she was born with, if she – and the nation – are to survive.

The book’s cover is adorned with skulls, and the intriguing tag line: ‘You have three minutes to save your life.’ It sounds dark and urgent, more thriller than fantasy…but is it a little misleading? Maybe a bit, but I wasn’t disappointed.

The faerie folk (or Sidhe), and the grey land in which they reside are suitable terrifying. O’Guilin has created an imaginative and horrifying world, full of terror and suspense. Nothing makes you read on with bated breath, quite like the concept of a hopeless cause in a fight for survival. You sympathise with every character unlucky enough to receive ‘the call,’ and hope they survive until the end. These sections are nicely interspersed throughout the novel, picking up the pace where it’s needed, and keeping the sense of urgency going from beginning to end.

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SLADE HOUSE

sladeOn one side of a high wall lies a narrow alley; on the other, a sunlit garden; and between them, a small black iron door.

You just need to open it.

Welcome to Slade House.   

 

 

 

              

 

First of all…how gorgeous is that cover?? Certainly a testament to the artist, because its what drew me to it. I’ve never read any of David Mitchell’s other work, so had no idea what to expect from it, and the blurb wasn’t willing to give too much away either. A risky move, but I was intrigued (in part, because it’s a brief 230 pages long), but within the front cover lies a fleshed-out brief on what to expect. A supernatural tale with a touch of the old gothic style definitely caught my interest.

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HOLDING UP THE UNIVERSE

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, but no one’s ever looked past her weight to see who she really is. Sine her mum’s death, Libby’s been hiding, but now she’s ready for high school. holding-up-the-universe

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too – sexy, aloof and too cool for school. But Jack’s swaggering confidence is hiding a secret he must keep at all costs.

Then Jack meets Libby. And their worlds change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I’m honest, I wasn’t blown away by the blurb. The plot seemed thin, and a little obvious about the direction it was going. Probably the only thing that sold it to me was the concept – so rarely seen –  of an overweight protagonist. I’m always interested in how minorities are portrayed in YA, and a fat girl as protagonist probably doesn’t happen too much (I’m aware of Butter, although I haven’t read it myself.)

The trouble is, when the minority/ background/ unrepresented characters DO come to the forefront, it’s never within a genre capacity. Boy meets girl, but it’s all about the character. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Where Holding Up The Universe is concerned, I found Jack Masselin a far more interesting character as a result of his neurological disorder. I’d heard of prosopagnosia through the works of Oliver Sacks (also mentioned by the characters in the book), but not to the in-depth, and first-hand account as given by Jack. This is a bonus for such books, it introduces readers to experiences and conditions they would otherwise have been completely unaware of. The trouble is, without these traits appearing in strong, plot driven pieces, the novel becomes about their differences from able-bodied, straight, white counterparts. It still draws a line of separation between one, and the Other.

Something to think about, I guess.

But back to my thoughts on Holding Up The Universe

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THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER

Twylla is blessed. The Gods have chosen her to marry a prince, and rule the kingdom. But the favour of the Gods has its price. A deadly poison sineatersdaughterinfuses her skin. Those who anger the queen must die under Twylla’s fatal touch.

Only Lief, an outspoken new guard, can see past Twylla’s chilling role to the girl she truly is.

Yet in a court as dangerous as the queen’s, some truths should not be told…

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’d only read about a chapter of The Sin Eater’s Daughter before it was side-lined to the TBR shelf (to join the other partially started novels), and I hadn’t thought of reading it again until I spotted its sequel, The Sleeping Prince. More inclined to finish it with the prospect of a sequel (provided the first one was any good), I got stuck back in.

It ticks all the boxes for a typical high fantasy novel with its medieval-style royal court, hunts, feasts, and historical conflict…and although this is undoubtedly what saw it sitting on my TBR shelf for as long as it had (I prefer urban fantasy), the world Melinda creates is definitely captivating. Every town and character has been fleshed-out with a detailed backstory that contribute to the story of the protagonist, without being so complicated as to confuse the reader.

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