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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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

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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THE CAKE SHOP IN THE GARDEN

The cake shop in the garden

Fay Merryweather runs her cake shop from her beautiful garden. She whips up airy sponges and scrumptious scones while her customers enjoy the lovely blossoms and gorgeous blooms. Looking after the cake shop, the garden and her cantankerous mother means Fay is always busy but she accepts her responsibilities because if she doesn’t do all this, who will?

Then Danny Wilde walks into her life and makes Fay question every decision she’s ever made.

When a sudden tragedy strikes, Fay’s entire world is thrown off balance even further and she doesn’t know which way to turn. Can Fay find the strength  to make a life-changing decision – even if it means giving up the thing she loves the most?

 

I was pretty much sold on the book from the cover alone. Nothing appeals to my inner-granny more than cakes and tea gardens!

The protagonist, Fey, is frumpy, set in her ways and living a mundane lifestyle that has her bogged down by family commitments. No doubt relatable character traits for many women of a certain age, Love interest Danny Wilde is clearly a manifestation of a generation’s worth of romantic fantasies.

And before I say any more – Danny Wilde. (Talk about an eye-roll moment when I read that name.) He is, quite literally, described in the stereotypical love interest-style of tall, dark and handsome.

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A MONSTER CALLS

A monster calls cover

Conor has the same dream every night, ever since his mother first fell ill, ever since she started the treatments that don’t quite seem to be working. But tonight is different. Tonight, when he wakes, there’s a visitor at his window. It’s ancient, elemental, a force of nature. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. 

It wants the truth.

 

 

 

 

I like a good spooky story as much as the next person, and thought that was what I’d be getting from purchasing A Monster Calls. Yes, there is a monster (of sorts), but one that’s more a reflection of inner turmoil and grief, than a physical monstrosity driven to send chills down the reader’s spine.

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BARTIMAEUS: THE RING OF SOLOMON

Demon extraordinaire, Bartimaeus, is stuck as a spirit slave doing dead-end jobs in King Solomon’s Jerusalem. The shame of it! Solomon’s ring of legend, which affords its master absolute power, has a lot to answer for.    The Ring of Solomon

But the arrival of an assassin girl who has murder on her mind, things start to get…interesting. Throw in a hidden conspiracy, seventeen deadly magicians and some of the most sinister spirits ever to squeeze inside a pentacle,  Bartimaeus is in trouble. He’s going to have to use every ounce of magic in his ever-shifting body to wiggle his way out of this one.

 

 

 

 

 

Due to other commitments, it’s taken me a while to get through this book. It became something I could leave untouched for a while, read a page or two, before forgetting about again. Mostly down to my studies (which brought with it an ever-growing reading list), but in part as a result of the setting. Although in keeping with djinn origins from Arabian mythology, I’m not on for historical-type novels. The other books within the Bartimaeus sequence (previously Trilogy), are set within the modern day, and offer a more realistic approach to modern wizards than other children’s books I could name!

This brings me to a point of contention I have with these novels. They’re beautifully written, include an extensive vocabulary with unique, witty characters. Having them side-lined purely as ‘children’s books’ limits their readership, which, given the chance, has the potential to be wide-reaching.

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THE MIRROR WORLD OF MELODY BLACK

synopsis          

       melody black

It all starts, as these things sometimes do, with a dead man.

He was a neighbour, not someone Abby knew well, but still, finding a body when you only came over to borrow a tin of tomatoes, that comes as a bit of a shock. At least, it should.

And now she can’t shake the feeling that if she hadn’t gone into Simon’s flat, if she’d had her Wednesday night instead, then none of what happened next would have happened.

And she would never have met Melody Black…

 

 

 

The Mirror World of Melody Black reminds me of films that look good on the trailers, but prove to be a bit of a disappointment at the cinema. The intrigue  of the ‘mirror world,’ together with the synopsis, makes the novel feel as though it sits within the realms of fantasy, or at the very least, magic realism. It doesn’t. Nor does it hold any element of detective fiction, mystery or thriller. This disjointed element is reflected in the plot, which jumps from one unrelated event to the next, leaving the novel feeling poorly structured and lacking direction. Continue reading THE MIRROR WORLD OF MELODY BLACK