Category: reviews

Review: S.T.A.G.S by M. A. Bennett

Posted November 8, 2017 by chooseyabooks in reviews, Uncategorized / 0 Comments

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: S.T.A.G.S by M. A. BennettTitle: S.T.A.G.S
Author: M.A. Bennett
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Publication Date: August 10th 2017
Pages: 290
Format: eARC
four-half-stars

Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.

It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin' shootin' fishin'. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.

But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry's parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports - hunting, shooting and fishing - become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school...

Review: Greer McDonald is not finding her new school easy. St Aidan The Great boarding school is one of the oldest and most exclusive schools in the country and as a scholarship student she’s struggled to fit into the privileged, elite world it presents. Then an invitation arrives to spend part of half-term with the most influential, important group in S.T.A.G.S,  the Medievals, and Greer thinks things are looking up. The story however begins with Greer looking back on what led to that weekend and calling herself a murderer.

I didn’t quite know what to expect going into this book and I wasn’t sure if the book would 100% be for me. That said, I love the boarding school setting (I have ever since I was young and read Enid Blyton books which completely romanticised it – I’m sure I’m not alone there) and I also, as many of you know, really love a good crime story and thriller. Therefore this book had a lot to offer me and I wanted to read it. While I went into the book without many preconceptions, I came out at the end having really enjoyed the book and found it a really pleasant surprise.

Bennett’s debut is the type of book you cannot put down. I read it it in just one sitting as the slowly creeping sensation of doom came out and I wanted to know just what had Greer done and just how it had unfolded. It’s compulsive and compelling and as it progresses, more and more tense and you read the book wishing you could stop some characters.  The world the book inhabits is almost ruleless and the central clique within it at first seemed almost absurd (with some of their style and general choices) which really made me unsure but I am very glad I continued with the book.

Greer is a well developed character; smart, opinionated, defiant and herself. I liked that she and the book weren’t set in London, where so many YA books seems to be set but in the countryside instead. Not only that Greer felt imperfect, flawed and more realistic without the reader’s need to root for her being compromised.

Bennett deftly leaves the story open for a sequel and I would most definitely be happy to dive back into this world and Greer’s story. Either way, I’m intrigued to see what M A Bennett writes next.

four-half-stars

Review: A Change Is Gonna Come

Review: A Change Is Gonna Come

Review: I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this was probably one of the most anticipated releases of Summer 2017. After the success of their Christmas and home themed anthology, Little Tiger announced a BAME YA anthology of poetry and prose with some of the country’s best YA voices. I’ve read several YA anthologies this year and I really like the format and introduction to new authors as well as more work from authors I already know. Before I talk about the stories themselves, I think it’s worth saying how vitally important it is to for an anthology like this to be published and also how depressing it is that books like this are unusual. Darren Chetty wrote the foreword and he wrote a brilliant essay within The Good Immigrant about children being able to see themselves, or […]

Posted September 4, 2017 by chooseyabooks in reviews / 0 Comments
Divider

Mini Reviews #7: Recent Reads

It’s been a very busy couple of months so I wanted to tell you all about some recent reads with mini reviews. [ book-info] Review: Adam Silvera is an author I had heard a lot of excellent things about so when Simon and Schuster kindly offered me a review copy of History Is All You Left Me, I was excited to read it. History Is All You Left Me is a beautiful contemporary YA told from the perspective of Griffin. Griffin’s ex-boyfriend and first love, Theo, has died in a drowning accident. I thought this was an interesting premise for a YA novel as while I’ve seen books about people losing their current partners, I haven’t seen that many about losing an ex and the complicated feelings that can stir up. And complicated feelings there are, even without Jackson, Theo’s […]

Posted September 3, 2017 by chooseyabooks in reviews / 1 Comment
Divider

Review: Here I Stand by Amnesty International

Review: Here I Stand by Amnesty International

Review: How do I review a book like Here I Stand? I think anthologies are underrated first of all. I find YA anthologies particularly compelling and, to my delight, recently there are more and more of them being published. This anthology unites numerous poets, writers and even Chelsea Manning to raise awareness about human rights issues facing young people today. There are some very upsetting stories in there; the first story by John Boyne deals with some really serious issues. I realised as I read that this was not going to necessarily be a light read. Literature matters, it’s important and it has power. If you don’t believe me, look at Harry Potter and consider the way a book about magic and boarding school looks at kindness, cruelty, discrimination and many political issues. Furthermore, it’s fascinating to see how fans […]

Posted June 14, 2017 by chooseyabooks in reviews / 0 Comments
Divider

Review: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

Review: We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

Review: I really enjoyed Sarah Crossan’s verse novel One and I’ve been reading her YA since Breathe. I love the fact Crossan writes in verse; it’s something we don’t see a lot of in YA and for me verse reminds more than any other form of writing of being a teenager. It was how I expressed myself so YA verse novels make perfect sense to me. We Come Apart is co-written with Brian Conaghan, Conaghan won the Costa Children’s Award in 2016 and is an author I am slightly less familiar with, but have been meaning to read for some time and have had Mr Dog Bites on my reading pile for a little while. We Come Apart is a dual-narrative novel telling the stories of Nicu and Jess, two troubled teens who are bought together in a community service […]

Posted March 13, 2017 by chooseyabooks in reviews / 1 Comment
Divider

Review: Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Review: Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Review:  Since I started blogging, I keep an eye on The Bookseller book deal announcements to see what’s coming in YA. As soon I heard about Wing Jones I was intrigued and as 2016 developed and more people talked about it, that interest just piqued. Wing Jones is a beautifully written contemporary YA novel that I adored. It tells the story of Wing Jones, who’s always felt more in her football playing brother’s shadows. Then everything changes. Her brother is in an accident and in a coma. The accident killed two people and her beloved brother was drink driving. While dealing with the tragedy, Wing discovers an affinity for running she never knew. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this book. Sometimes when a book is particularly hyped, or one you’ve anticipated keenly it never seems to meet your […]

Posted February 6, 2017 by chooseyabooks in reviews / 2 Comments
Divider

Review: I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Various

Review: I’ll Be Home for Christmas by Various

Review: I’ll Be Home for Christmas is a UKYA Christmas anthology by Stripes (Little Tiger) around the theme of home. £1 from each book sale is also donated to Crisis, the charity for homelessness. Notable UKYA writers such as Juno Dawson, Lisa Williamson, Benjamin Zephaniah and Marcus Sedgewick all contributed stories and a competition was held for an unpublished UKYA voice. Tracey Danton won this with her poignant short story, The Letter. I was very keen to read this anthology due to the themes and the fact that there aren’t many UK based YA anthologies and this is something I’d like to see more of as the community has some fantastic authors, many of whom don’t get the acclaim they may warrant. Short stories are also a fantastic way to sample an author and see if their style works for you. There are fourteen […]

Posted January 30, 2017 by chooseyabooks in reviews / 0 Comments
Divider

Review: Barefoot on the Wind by Zoe Marriot

Review: Barefoot on the Wind by Zoe Marriot

Review: As soon as I heard about Barefoot on the Wind, I was intrigued. Beauty and the Beast was probably my favourite disney film as a very young child. Seriously, my love of this knew no bounds; I’m talking clothing, seeing the musical in London, singing all the songs, seeing it on ice… No bounds, I tell you, no bounds. As I grew older it became clear there were some parts of the story that were a little less magical. Zoe Marriott explained it really well at the recent Walker Blogger event when she said -and I’m paraphrasing here – it didn’t seem right that the Beast got rewarded for making very little change or compromise while Belle seemed to be the one making those compromises and changes. Barefoot on the Wind has been billed as a feminist Beauty and the Beast and […]

Posted October 24, 2016 by chooseyabooks in reviews / 0 Comments
Divider

Review: Love and Other Man-Made Disasters by Nicole Doherty

Review: Love and Other Man-Made Disasters by Nicole Doherty

Review: I have always had a soft spot for contemporary YA. It’s probably one of my favourite genres and it’s always been one of my default writing loves as well. While some people may feel the US have the edge on contemporary YA, I think YA based in the UK and Ireland has so much to offer and is seriously underrated.  When I read the summary for Love and Other Man-Made Disasters on Netgalley, I had to read it. The ski resort setting also reminded me a little of the film Chalet Girl which I secretly loved. Juno is a slightly anxious teenager who worries a lot. Now Juno is being forced to go on a skiing holiday with her mum and her mum’s new husband and his twin boys. This is a great, easy to read, enjoyable summer read (despite the chilliness of skiing) and I […]

Posted July 11, 2016 by chooseyabooks in reviews / 0 Comments
Divider

Mini Reviews #6: It’s Thriller Time

Mini Reviews #6: It’s Thriller Time

Review: I’m always intrigued by cults and new religious movements so The Special Ones definitely appealed to me when I saw it on Netgalley and sounded like a slightly different YA thriller. The Special Ones is told through Esther’s perspective. Esther is one the four ‘Special Ones’ who live in an isolated house away from the modern world after He has chosen them. Each of them has a skill, expectations and are expected to promote their lives through online chats to their followers. On renewal day, He chooses one of them to be replaced and the cycle continues. Until something happens and things begin to change. I think it’s best not to delve too deeply into the plot intricacies as I don’t want to spoil it. However, what really makes this book work is Esther. Her character comes through well and carries the […]

Posted July 4, 2016 by chooseyabooks in reviews / 0 Comments
Divider