Blog Tour: 3 Days To Go Until The Maze Runner [Review and Signed Book Giveaway]

Martyn Pig stg2

Today I am posting as part of the blog tour for the run-up to The Maze Runner’s movie release in 3 days (10th October 2014). I’m really excited for the Maze Runner movie as the lead actor, Dylan O’Brien, plays one of my favourite characters on Teen Wolf. I have a review of the book and a giveaway for a copy of edition of the Maze Runner signed by the author James Dashner.

The Maze Runner Classic ed jacketTitle: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Publisher: Chicken House Books
Publication Date: August 4th 2011.
Series/Standalone: 1st in a series.
Format: Paperback
Source: Publicist/Publisher
Also by this author: The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, The Kill Order, Eye of Minds.

Goodreads DescriptionWhen the doors of the lift crank open, the only thing Thomas remembers is his first name. But he’s not alone. He’s surrounded by boys who welcome him to the Glade – a walled encampment at the centre of a bizarre and terrible stone maze. Like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they came to be there – or what’s happened to the world outside.

Review: I had seen the Maze Runner in book shops for years and was curious about the series, but for some reason didn’t pick it up, so when I was offered the chance to review it for this blog tour I had to say yes.

The Maze Runner has a fantastic premise, young boys with very little of their memory about lives before wake up, or are sent up a lift once a month, in the Glade. There is the maze with walls that change over night and terrifying monsters called Grievers. There are no adults and the boys have had to forge together their own society and rules. Thomas, the main protagonist, arrives in the Glade, however has an unexplained sense of deja vu. As he struggles to get to grips with his confusing new life, an unprecedented arrival changes everything. A barely conscious girl with a note saying she is the last new arrival.

The Maze Runner started a little slow for me, however due to its premise and potential I kept reading and soon was sucked into the world. The secondary characters, especially Newt felt well-developed and Gally was a formidable threat. My only issue was I felt Teresa, the lone female character, was critically underused. For most of the book she is in a coma, and there is a way she can communicate with Thomas, but I would have liked to her to be more present and active. I have heard this may be slightly different in the film adaption though. That said, by the final half, I was glad to see she was more utilised. Also the all-male society had an interesting Lord of the Flies dynamic to it.

The Maze Runner is filled with tension; Thomas’ rivalry with Gally, the maze itself and its creepy electronic monsters that cause something called the changing. Something that brings the person to remember more of their lives and the world before, but clearly is so bad no one ever can bring themselves to talk about it.

I really enjoyed the Maze Runner overall; it was tense, full of action and adventure and had a compelling premise. I would have liked more clarity on the mysteries, but this is a series and it does have to generally hold back on giving everything away too early on. I would definitely be interested in continuing the series and finding out more about the world and what will happen to the characters next.

 I received a free copy from the publisher/publicist  for reviewing purposes. My review is honest and its tone and content unaffected by the means in which I received the book. Many thanks to Laura for arranging the tour. 

The Maze Runner out now in paperback (£7.99, Chicken House) 


UK Only Giveaway:

Just leave a comment on this blog tour post, I’d love to know why you’d love to read the Maze Runner or want to see the film, and enter the rafflecopter to win a signed copy of the book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

toptentuesday

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created the Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is about authors we’ve only read one book from but need more. I’ve chosen to focus on authors with more than one book already out to help me shortlist more easily. I’ve also used my own books for photos, so apologies if the lighting is rubbish (it’s a bit of a miserable day) but it’s something I’d like to play around with more on the blog.

Matthew Quick ttt1sep

I read Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock last year and thought it was a strong YA novel. I’ve also seen and enjoyed the film adaption of Silver Linings Playbook so Matthew Quick is definitely an author I need to read more of.

Kendare Blake

I began attempting to rectify this today as I finally bought Girl of Nightmares! I love Anna Dressed In Blood and its horror and Supernatural vibe.

V.E. Schwab

I adored Vicious and it’s one of my favourite releases of the year so far. I therefore need to read Victoria’s existing YA novels soon!

Andrew Smith

Thanks to the lovely Faye, I have a copy of Smith’s other novel released in the UK, Grasshopper Jungle, although I haven’t got around to reading it yet. I loved Winger which is a brilliant contemporary novel, however I must confess that despite wanting to read Grasshopper Jungle I’m a little worried about all the bugs!

Bethany Griffin

I really enjoyed the gothic atmosphere of The Masque of the Red Death, however I haven’t had a chance to read the final book in the duology yet. I’m hoping to be able to get a copy and complete it soon, plus Griffin has a new novel out soon.

ttt2sep Victoria Scott

Fire & Flood took me by surprise, as I mentioned in my review. I expected something a little more typical and like the many dystopian YAs out there, however it was a fun, enjoyable and compulsive read. I seriously need to check out her Dante Walker series soon!

 

Frances Hardinge 

I heard a lot about Hardinge about a year or so ago on twitter, however it wasn’t until I was sent a review copy of her latest Cuckoo Song earlier this year that I realised all the hype was more than deserved. Hardinge’s voice and writing is great and I’d love to read more soon.

Cath Crowley

I loved Graffiti Moon when I reviewed it way back in 2012, however while she has some other books out across the world, Graffiti Moon is her only UK release to date. I’m hoping some more of her books, and her next novel, will be picked up over here and I can get to them soon!

Helen Grant

Helen is a lovely author and I interviewed her on the blog earlier this year. I loved Silent Saturday and its urban exploration, horror and thriller elements. I haven’t had a chance to get hold of the sequel Demons of Ghent yet, however I do have Wish Me Dead, one of her earlier novels based on the classic horror story The Monkey’s Paw, and am hoping to slowly work my way through her books soon.

Jonathan Stroud

I loved Lockwood & Co. and with the second novel in the series due very soon, I can hopefully take Stroud off this list soon! I’d also love to check out his Bartimaeus trilogy!

So, do we have any of the same authors on our TTT? Do you think there’s one author or book mentioned I simply have to read ASAP? Where should I start?

 

 

Review: Red by Alison Cherry

redTitle: Red
Author: Alison Cherry
Publisher: Quercus Children’s
Publication Date: January 2nd 2014
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Format: Paperback
Source: Egalley from Netgalley
Also by this author:

Goodreads DescriptionTop student. Beauty queen. Girlfriend of the hottest football jock: Felicity’s got everything. And it’s all down to her red, red hair.
Felicity lives in Scarletville, the world’s only redhead sanctuary, where red hair is celebrated, protected – and the key to sucess.
But Felicity has a secret. A red hot secret. And if anyone finds out, she’s finished.
Because Felicity’s actually a natural blonde.
And in Scarletville, blondes need not apply

Review:  Red for me was a strange read. On one hand it reminded me of Drop Dead Gorgeous and there was a strong satirical and humorous feel to the novel with a slight Mean Girls edge. However the central concept of someone dying their hair to fit in with the rest and playing a ‘redhead’ along with the town of Scarletville had some difficult implications. When I was at university, one of the books I studied was about post apartheid life in South Africa and involved a couple able to pass as white during the apartheid, so obviously there were some clear parallels here for me as I read.

Red obviously has a message about tolerance and discrimination and looks at these issues through a more satirical lens. However some parts were so over the top it detracted from the key point of the novel for me and didn’t always feel successful. For example, the chapter when they go outside of Scarlettville just didn’t work for me as they were so naïve it felt unbelievable. Even though the intent was clearly to look at stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination, the concept of prejudicing those without red hair sometimes felt a little too frivolous and while this was the point and demonstrated how arbitrary and ridiculous judging someone on their appearance alone is, with the real life history and parallels I sometimes felt it didn’t quite work.

A few of twists towards the end and the blackmail plot didn’t entirely work for me or convince me. The implications and parallels in the real world about discrimination and prejudice also didn’t always sit comfortably for me in such a seemingly superficially lighthearted novel . While Cherry was using this to address greater points on discrimination and prejudice, I just didn’t always feel it worked for me in this quite quirky delivery. However, I do think this might be an interesting gateway to get readers thinking about and discussing important topics including prejudice and popularity/social status.

With all of that said, I thought the romance was quite engaging and overall it was an addictive read which I read in just one sitting. While Red did not always work for me, I would probably read Alison Cherry’s next novel as I enjoyed a lot of her writing style, however I am not sure I want to return to the land of Red.

 I received a free ecopy from Quercus via Netgalley  for reviewing purposes. My review is honest and its tone and content unaffected by the means in which I received the book.

Review: Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn

brokenheartsfencesTitle: Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend
Author: Katie Finn
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends [US]
Publication Date: May 13th 2014
Series/Standalone: Series, book one.
Format: Hardback
Source: eARC via Netgalley
Also by this author:

Goodreads DescriptionHot sun. Blue waves. New romances. Old secrets.
Gemma had her summer all planned out, but it takes a sharp turn when she gets dumped and finds herself back in the Hamptons after a five-year absence.
Being there puts her at risk of bumping into Hallie, her former best friends (that is, before Gemma ruined her life). But people don’t hold grudges forever. Do they?
Gemma intends on making amends, but a small case of mistaken identity causes the people she knew years ago—including Hallie and her dreamy brother, Josh—to believe she’s someone else. As though the summer wasn’t complicated enough already.
Filled with summer sun, boys, and friendships gone sour, Katie Finn’s first novel in the Broken Hearts and Revenge series sizzles and delights.

Review:  I love Morgan Matson’s YA and when I learnt that Katie Finn was Matson’s pseudonym I was really excited to read Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend [Broken Hearts… for ease of typing] and expected great things.

After a disastrous break up in a supermarket and a small case of mistaken identity on a train, Gemma sees her chance to make things right with her former best friend Hailie, as well as reconnecting with Hallie’s cute brother, Josh.  However things begin to go wrong as a series of unfortunate disasters occur and the strain of trying to keep her true identity from Josh begins to show itself.

In this sort of scenario, I think it can be expected that you have to suspend your disbelief to an extent and in order to enjoy this book, I would say you should.  While I predicted most of the twists in this book, it did not detract from my overall enjoyment, however did feel quite overdramatic at times. Finn conveyed Gemma’s motivation behind not only making things right, but what caused the betrayal, effectively and I rooted for her as a narrator. I did feel she was quite naive and tried a bit too hard, however she remained relatable overall. I do have to say that I really wanted her to be honest from the start however as we all make mistakes (though Gemma’s was pretty over-the-top) when we’re young and the deception felt too elaborate and doomed to fail, plus dishonest and wrong to her relationship with Josh.

The ending is fairly open and sets things up for the next book, however I’m not sure how this will develop as a series. That said, I do want see Gemma face the consequences of the end of this book and find a resolution.

While you may need to suspend your disbelief a lot and it didn’t entirely work for me throughout, there is something readable and summery about this book.

 I received a free ecopy from the publisher via Netgalley  for reviewing purposes. My review is honest and its tone and content unaffected by the means in which I received the book.

Dropping the ‘The’

Source: Tumblr, click image to go to post.

Recently I’ve noticed a lot of my blogging friends discussing either on twitter or their blogs suffering from blogging fatigue or pressure. It’s something I’ve experienced myself and I’m currently trying to come out of. You may have noticed every now and then I take a step back from the blog and won’t post for a while, though I inevitably always return. In a way these breaks are a double edged sword for me because when I return I’ve lost some followers, lost a few daily views, feel a touch out of the community and suddenly am left to question whether my blog matters at all. I’m doing my best not to pay attention to those things though; numbers matter superficially but I do this because I love YA and it’s a wonderful community. That said, I’ve been thinking about a few changes and this post has been sitting in my drafts folder in various forms for about two months now. The first (and very silly) excuse for not putting it online earlier was not finding the gif I wanted, well I found it, so no excuses now…

It all started with the recent banner redesign and asked some feedback from some of my lovely twitter followers. The very lovely Emma Haughton suggested dropping the books from Choose YA Books for more impact and it was a great suggestion and one I am taking (the banner will remain the same but without the word books, I’m sorting that out now).

This reminded me a little of that lightbulb moment in The Social Network when Sean Parker tells Zuckerberg to drop the ‘The’ from ‘The Facebook’, hence the title and gif.

This got me thinking about what I wanted ChooseYA to be. A relative just this week commented on my knowledge and love of TV and film and how they felt I could be a good TV critic and should do more blogging on this. I don’t want ChooseYA to not be a book blog. Books are incredibly important to me, I love reading and literature and writing. However at times, I feel the blog currently is a little flat and I want it to be more. Due to the blog name and trying to keep its core identity focused, expanding to reviewing general fiction without any YA interest doesn’t feel appropriate to me and I want to stay true to my original vision for the blog – and wow, using the term vision feels pretentious but hey ho.

So, what is this post all about? I’m dropping the ‘The’, or rather the ‘Books’.  ChooseYA will still primarily be a book blog; it will probably be 90% all about the books. I will still review books and the content will be YA/crossover focused, whether it’s about a book or not. However, I want to create a space to discuss some of the pop culture, films and TV I love and I think would fit in with ChooseYA – I might review or recap a few shows, or not, this may not work for me and I may go back to all the books, all the time. I’m not sure yet. I’m pretty sure that I might do a couple of posts about my new love of Teen Wolf (thanks Liz and Jenni)  I’m excited though and looking forward to expanding my blog and trying something new.

Review: Boys Don’t Knit by T.S. Easton

boysdontknitTitle: Boys Don’t Knit
Author: T.S Easton
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: January 1st 2014
Series/Standalone: first in a series.
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from publisher
Also by this author:  A sequel, An English Boy in New York will follow this month.

Goodreads DescriptionBen Fletcher must get to grips with his more ‘feminine’ side following an unfortunate incident with a lollipop lady and a stolen bottle of Martini Rosso from Waitrose. All a big misunderstanding of course. To avoid the Young Offenders unit, Ben is ordered to give something back to the community and develop his sense of social alignment. Take up a hobby and keep on the straight and narrow. The hot teacher he likes runs a knitting group so Ben, reluctantly at first, gets ‘stuck in’. Not easy when your dad is a sports fan and thinks Jeremy Clarkson is God. To his surprise, Ben finds that he likes knitting and that he has a mean competitive streak. If he can just keep it all a secret from his mates…and notice that the girl of his dreams, girl-next-door Megan Hooper has a bit of a thing for him…Laugh-out-loud, often ridiculous, sometimes quite touching, and revelatory about the knitting world, Boys Don’t Knit is a must for boys and girls..

Review: Boy’s Don’t Knit came into my life at just the right moment when I really needed cheering up. Told in a (slightly reluctant) diary format, Easton has the teenage voice down perfectly. Ben is a great character and you can’t help rooting for him as he unintentionally lands himself into chaotic situations.

After an unfortunate accident and misunderstanding, Ben is now giving back to the community and being forced to take up a hobby and ends up in the knitting class. Suddenly he finds out that maybe knitting isn’t as bad as he thought, in fact he might actually be good at it. If only it wasn’t such an ‘uncool’ hobby.

I adored this book. It’s funny, it feels very authentic and it looks at how we can tell ourselves not to do something due to a fear of being uncool or weird, but actually that isn’t always right and we limit ourselves. Ben grows a lot throughout the novel and he’s a really solid narrator. Easton’s voice is so on point and genuinely humorous. Most importantly, this book to me proves a lot about the debate about boys reading YA and the idea of boy and girl hobbies. Why do we have these strict ideas about what boys and girls can do and that in the case of this book, boys don’t knit? Easton doesn’t get didactic about this and it’s not a preachy novel in the slightest, but the message does come through.

Contemporary YA fans and those who love UKYA should definitely enjoy Boys Don’t Knit. It’s quintessentially British and is an authentic, funny and thought-provoking YA.  I’m very keen to read the sequel and continue Ben Fletcher’s adventures in knitting and life.

 I received a free paperback from Hot Key Books  for reviewing purposes. My review is honest and its tone and content unaffected by the means in which I received the book.

Mini Reviews 1: The Contemporaries

Today’s reviews all are contemporary YA novels, however each is very different.

amymatthewTitle: Amy & Matthew
Author: Cammie McGovern
Publication Date: March 17th 2014 
Publisher:
Review copy from publisher

Summary: Amy loves Matthew and he loves her back. This is their story.
Amy is unflinchingly honest about her limitations. Born with cerebral palsy, she can’t walk or talk without help. But trapped inside this uncooperative body lies a brilliant mind and a luminous spirit – a girl capable of truly loving and worthy of being loved in return.
Matthew has his own set of challenges – a mind consumed by unwanted repeated thoughts, obsessive rituals and a crippling fear that he can’t explain. But underneath all of the anxiety lies a deep seed of hope for someone to come along who believes in him…
This is the story of Amy and Matthew. It may not be a fairy tale romance or set in an imagined world far from our own. But the love they share is real. And yes, there’s magic in it.

Firstly, on a shallow note, I adore this cover, it’s absolutely gorgeous. I had high expectations for Amy & Matthew as I love contemporary YA and this sounded very different due to the fact both main characters had a ‘disability’ of some form, and I haven’t seen this really discussed much in YA.

I thought that both Amy and Matthew were strong characters and narrators. I loved the email exchanges between the two and their friendship was well written. Amy seemed the more confident of the two and frequently encouraged Matthew to challenge his OCD.

McGovern doesn’t gloss over the difficulties of disabilities, or being a teenager and her writing style is assured. The only aspect that didn’t work for me personally was the prologue email and the way that led me to believe the novel would go. That said, this is a confident and heartfelt YA debut.

I think this novel would definitely appeal to fans of John Green, in particular, as well as contemporary YA readers. I’m intrigued to see what McGovern writes next as I think she has a good YA voice and style.

akissinthedarkTitle: A Kiss In The Dark
Author: Cat Clarke
Publication Date: April 3rd 2014
Publisher: Quercus
Source: Review copy from publisher

Summary: When Alex meets Kate the attraction is instant.
Alex is funny, good-looking, and a little shy – everything that Kate wants in a boyfriend.
Alex can’t help falling for Kate, who is pretty, charming and maybe just a little naive…
But one of them is hiding a secret, and as their love blossoms, it threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their lives.

A Kiss In The Dark is a hard book to review without spoiling the plot. While the plot twist – well, one of them, at least – is revealed early on, I will avoid mentioning it within this review which does I feel limit what I can say quite significantly.

A Kiss In The Dark is a tale of deception and betrayal as well as romance. While I anticipated one of the twists and betrayals, there is one towards the second half of the novel that I did not see coming and cast a different light on A Kiss In The Dark.

I enjoyed A Kiss In The Dark overall and found it gripping throughout. Clarke’s writing is clear, authentic and depicts the range of complicated emotions Alex and Kate went through. One of my favourite things about Clarke’s writing in general is she presents very human characters, with all their strengths and flaws together. In the case of A Kiss In The Dark, Clarke takes topics that have been covered in news stories and headlines but adds a level to them by making the characters and story feel real. If I’m honest it didn’t quite draw me in in the same way that Undone did, however it was still a very strong YA novel in my opinion.

Fans of Cat Clarke will definitely enjoy her latest novel, a contemporary YA that forces the reader to examine honesty, love and betrayal.

nowyouseemeehTitle: Now You See Me
Author: Emma Haughton
Publication Date: May 1st 2014
Publisher: Usborne
Source: Review copy from publisher

Summary: Three years ago, thirteen-year-old Danny Geller vanished without trace.
His family and friends are still hanging on to every last shred of hope. Not knowing if he’s alive or dead, their world is shrouded in shadows, secrets and suspicions.
This is the story of what happens when hope comes back to haunt you. When your desperation is used against you. When you search for the truth – but are too scared to accept the reality staring you in the face…
A mesmerizing psychological thriller with the most incredible twist you’ll read all year.

Now You See Me is inspired by a true story, as it says on the cover, and it was a story I’d actually read and heard about quite a bit before so I guessed the twist fairly quickly. That said, there was a final twist which I did not anticipate in the same way. Like with A Kiss In The Dark, I’m not explicitly going to discuss the twists which again limits my review significantly.

The friendship between Hannah and Danny was well conveyed and Haughton effectively depicted life after Danny’s disappearance and the strain on his family and friends.

Without going into the plot too deeply, Haughton’s writing is tight and suspenseful. I think at times, because I knew a bit about the ‘true story’, the suspense didn’t entirely work for me, however if I had no idea what was coming then I think it would have been more effective. The plot is tightly woven and Hannah is a strong and compelling narrator, trying to seek the truth behind Danny’s disappearance.

Enjoyable, fast-paced and an intriguing psychological thriller. Fans of novels such as Gone Girl and YA thrillers should find a lot to become invested in with Now You See Me.

Review: Gloss – Summer Scandal by Marilyn Kaye

Gloss Summer ScandalTitle: Gloss – Summer Scandal
Author: Marilyn Kaye
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Publication Date: May 8th 2014
Series/Standalone: Series, book two.
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from publisher
Also by this author: Gloss

Goodreads Description:  It’s the summer of 1964 and the four Gloss interns are back in New York. Sherry is working at Gloss when she gets involved in the civil rights movement and finds herself falling in love with someone she never expected to, Donna is caught up in the world of high fashion and Upper East Side rich kids, Pamela is desperate to become an actress, no matter what it takes, and Allison is finding out that going steady with a teen heart-throb isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. The girls are discovering that following your heart sometimes means that you can’t follow your dreams …

Review: I really enjoyed Gloss, the first in Marilyn Kaye’s 1960’s series, so was pleased to see there would be a second book. Gloss was a great summer read which also touched on some important issues about sexism and the workplace. Summer Scandal similarly continues to balance the fun of fashion and Sherry’s dream job at Gloss with the realities of the civil rights movement, insecurities in relationships and social attitudes of the 1960s generally.

Each former intern has their own arc and story in Summer Scandal, however for me, Sherry feels like the main character and her story is incredibly interesting and important in this book. Sherry wants to write about more serious and newsworthy topics and is drawn into the civil rights movement by a colleague. Kaye writes about issues well and also the civil rights movement doesn’t feel shoehorned in for the sake of including it, but is relevant to the characters and plot development. I thought her difficulties in being taken seriously in the movement were an interesting spin and that her relationship with William was intriguing.

Although I really enjoyed Allison’s arc in Gloss, I found her harder to relate to in Summer Scandal. I did like the ‘twist’ Kaye employed with respect to her relationships. I similarly found Pamela at times hard to relate to – while I like the fact that she is a woman who is ahead of her time, at times I found her shallow however she does seem to be developing as a character as the series progresses.

Entertaining, fun and surprisingly thought-provoking, Summer Scandal is a great summer retro read.

 I received a free copy  from Macmillan Children’s Books for reviewing purposes. My review is honest and its tone and content unaffected by the means in which I received the book.

Review: Say Her Name by James Dawson

sayhername

Title: Say Her Name
Author: James Dawson
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: June 5th
Series/Standalone: Standalone
Format: Paperback
Source: ARC from publisher
Also by this author: Hollow Pike, Cruel Summer, Being a Boy, This Book Is Gay

Goodreads DescriptionRoberta ‘Bobbie’ Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of ‘Bloody Mary': say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear… But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?
Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror… five days… but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before… A truly spine-chilling yet witty horror from shortlisted ‘Queen of Teen’ author James Dawson.

Review: I love James Dawson’s writing; it’s the perfect combination of witty humour and tense creepiness. It goes without saying, therefore, that I was really looking forward to Say Her Name from the moment it was announced, however I was a little worried. The Bloody Mary legend is the one urban legend that has crept under my skin and scared me a bit – it’s probably to do with the mirrors – so I was simultaneously intrigued and terrified of Say Her Name.

Say Her Name is set in a British boarding school where Bobbie and her friends summon Bloody Mary. They expect nothing to happen, like it hasn’t happened for most of the millions of teenagers who have said those fateful words before. However, soon mysterious things begin to happen. A message saying ‘five days’ is just the start of it. Now Bobbie, best friend Naya and Bobbie’s new crush Caine have to stop Mary before it’s too late.

Say Her Name had a real horror film vibe to it, and at times felt both American and British due to this. It’s filled with brilliant pop culture references and Dawson juxtaposes the humour and horror brilliantly. What I love about Dawson’s writing is that he doesn’t talk down to his audience; Say Her Name is scary in places, it is not horror-lite. Dawson also writes with honesty and his characters feel real, they don’t read as perfect fictional characters. Bobbie in particular was a strong narrator and carried the plot really well.

I thought Say Her Name’s take on the origin of Mary was really interesting and resulted in some empathy for her (let’s not forget about the murder though) The final third is tense, creepy and thrilling to read. I also thought the five day twist and homage of sorts to The Ring added an interesting dimension to the tale as it enabled Bobbie’s quest to save herself and her friends and added tension. There was also a very interesting potential implication for Bobbie and Caine’s budding romance due to Mary’s origin story which I thought was really well done.

I definitely recommend this book and have to admit that despite being fine when I read it, it did stay with me a little afterwards. Connoisseurs of pop culture and horror movie fans will love Say Her Name. Just maybe don’t read it in a room filled with mirrors, or you know… aloud.

 I received a free ARC from Hot Key Books  for reviewing purposes. My review is honest and its tone and content unaffected by the means in which I received the book.

Review: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

boneseasonTitle: The Bone Season
Author: Samantha Shannon
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication Date:
Series/Standalone: 1st in a series.
Format: Paperback
Source: Ecopy from publisher for review.
Also by this author:

Goodreads Description:  It is the year 2059. Several major world cities are under the control of a security force called Scion. Paige Mahoney works in the criminal underworld of Scion London, part of a secret cell known as the Seven Seals. The work she does is unusual: scouting for information by breaking into others’ minds. Paige is a dreamwalker, a rare kind of clairvoyant, and in this world, the voyants commit treason simply by breathing.
But when Paige is captured and arrested, she encounters a power more sinister even than Scion. The voyant prison is a separate city—Oxford, erased from the map two centuries ago and now controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. These creatures, the Rephaim, value the voyants highly—as soldiers in their army.
Paige is assigned to a Rephaite keeper, Warden, who will be in charge of her care and training. He is her master. Her natural enemy. But if she wants to regain her freedom, Paige will have to learn something of his mind and his own mysterious motives.
The Bone Season introduces a compelling heroine—a young woman learning to harness her powers in a world where everything has been taken from her. It also introduces an extraordinary young writer, with huge ambition and a teeming imagination. Samantha Shannon has created a bold new reality in this riveting debut.

Review: The Bone Season intrigued me early on with its prepublication hype and also the fact I’d heard it described as an adult/crossover novel with YA appeal. While not necessarily my usual type of read, I did find myself enjoying this book and getting swept into the world of The Bone Season.

For the first 10% of the novel, I have to admit I was very confused. We are immediately thrown into the novel’s world and it is a complicated one. The language, alternative history and level of detail did make me consider giving up as I felt a little overwhelmed. However, after taking a break I persevered and I am glad I did as I became quickly engrossed and accustomed to the world. The novel begins in London with Paige, a secret voyant, working for the criminal underworld. Paige is thrown into a series of unfortunate moments that lead to her being taken for the Bone Season.

The Bone Season despite its somewhat difficult start is very readable and I found myself speeding through the book and wanting to follow Paige’s journey. The book really came into its own for me once we arrived at Oxford. The world of the Bone Season is cruel and disturbing; there is slavery and Paige’s ‘master’ Warden becomes a key character. Although I guessed his allegiance early on and felt he was a little cliched at times, he was a strong presence. At times, I felt his relationship with Paige didn’t work for me due to the ‘owning’ dynamic and this was hard for me to overcome however their friendship develops slowly and didn’t feel rushed.

Paige was a solid narrator and developed well throughout the novel. While aspects of her character could be seen as cliched, for example her ability and general strength, I think Shannon did a good job on making her feel original and making the reader relate to her.

Overall, The Bone Season is a book I’m glad I persevered with and I would definitely read book two. While at times, I felt a little swept away by all the detail Shannon has created an accomplished and well imagined world and compelling novel.

I received a free egalley from Bloomsbury  for reviewing purposes. My review is honest and its tone and content unaffected by the means in which I received the book.