Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher **Review**


The Killing Woods
Series: None
Pages: 384
Publisher: Chicken House
Release date: 3rd October 2013
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

Add to Goodreads

Goodreads synopsis:
Emily’s dad is accused of murdering a teenage girl. Emily is sure he is innocent, but what happened that night in the woods behind their house where she used to play as a child? Determined to find out, she seeks out Damon Hillary, the enigmatic boyfriend of the murdered girl. He also knows these woods. Maybe they could help each other. But he’s got secrets of his own about games that are played in the dark.

A new psychological thriller from the award-winning and bestselling author of STOLEN and FLYAWAY.

The Killing Woods is a book that I looked at for a while before deciding to finally buy it, and then a bit more before I decided to read it. I just wasn't sure about it. The factor that finally persuaded me to pick it up was the fact that Lucy Christopher was going to be at the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) in London, and I was going to be there too. I wanted to try and read as many of the authors as I could before I went, and Lucy was one of those that I had yet to read.

Any doubts I had originally held about the book were almost immediately put to rest when I started reading it. I found the style really easy to get into, and I found both Emily and Damon's voices real and distinguishable enough that they didn't clash. The story gets going quickly and I was immediately sucked into the book. 30 pages in, I was hooked.
However, although there is a lot of tension all the way through the book, and I was constantly wondering if it really was Emily's dad that had killed Ashlee, or someone else (maybe even Damon?!), there were certain chapters that I felt slowed the pace a little bit. I didn't feel as though they really took the story anywhere new, which would have kept the pace of the plot up at a steady speed. Other parts of the story, however, more than made up for this. The last 80 pages or so were really fast-paced and I found that I couldn't put it down at this point!
I also had a lot of fun coming up with my own theories about what really happened and who really did it. I had my eye on a couple of different characters who I thought could easily have done it; one was a suspect and one was the killer. I didn't feel as though I'd been cheated though, being able to guess the killer, because although I guessed the person, I didn't guess the circumstance, and it didn't take away from the tension or the drama.

I did have a small problem with the way some of the book was written. Mostly the prose was engaging and really transported me into the world that the book creates – especially when the characters are in Darkwood (which, despite everything, I would quite like to visit ... if it's real ...) – however, I was pulled out of the story on the odd occasion by the odd phrases that the author sometimes used. These were mostly metaphors or similes that were being used to describe how something/someone looked or felt, but I often found myself thinking, 'What does that even mean?'.
It didn't make too much of an impact on the story because it didn't happen all the time, but it was enough for me to notice and feel the need to say something.

All in all I did think that The Killing Woods was a good read. It was tense and mysterious, a little bit strange, and quite absorbing. Although I did have some problems with it, I was mostly gripped all the way through.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery – especially if you like trying to work out 'whodunnit' – or to anyone who likes their books to have a bit of a thrill element.
3.5 stars



Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Wishlist Wednesday #149

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.

So what do you need to do to join in?
  • Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
  • Please consider adding the blog hop button to your blog somewhere, so others can find it easily and join in too! Help spread the word! The code will be at the bottom of the post under the linky.
  • Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.
  • Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of this post.
  • Put a link back to pen to paper (http://www.pentopaperblog.com) somewhere in your post, and a note saying that Pen to Paper is the host of the meme.
  • Visit the other blogs and enjoy!


The Elites
by Natasha Ngan

Synopsis:
‘There is a rumour that the Elites don’t bleed.’

Hundreds of years into the future, wars, riots, resource crises and rising sea-levels have destroyed the old civilisations. Only one city has survived: Neo-Babel, a city full of cultures – and racial tension.

Fifteen-year-old Silver is an Elite, a citizen of Neo-Babel chosen to guard the city due to her superior DNA. She’d never dream of leaving – but then she fails to prevent the assassination of Neo Babel’s president, setting off a chain of events more shocking and devastating than she could ever have imagined. Forced to flee the city with her best friend Butterfly (a boy with genetically-enhanced wings), Silver will have to fight to find her family, uncover the truth about Neo-Babel and come to terms with her complicated feelings for Butterfly.

Packed full of adventure, romance, exoticism and the power of friendship, The Elites is a highly compelling and beautifully written novel from a supremely talented debut author.
This is a title I've seen just about everywhere recently, including at YALC this weekend just gone. The first thing that is so striking about this book is obviously the cover. But I think the story sounds equally as striking. I love futuristic stories, especially ones that are as imaginative as this one seems. Also, a boy with wings? Who wouldn't want wings?!
Once I've got through some more of my books, I will definitely be getting this one on my shelves!

What's on your wishlist this week? Let us know in the comments below, or link to your own Wishlist Wednesday post in the Linky :) 








Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Wishlist Wednesday #148

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.

So what do you need to do to join in?
  • Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
  • Please consider adding the blog hop button to your blog somewhere, so others can find it easily and join in too! Help spread the word! The code will be at the bottom of the post under the linky.
  • Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.
  • Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of this post.
  • Put a link back to pen to paper (http://www.pentopaperblog.com) somewhere in your post, and a note saying that Pen to Paper is the host of the meme.
  • Visit the other blogs and enjoy!


Boys Don't Knit
by T. S. Easton

Synopsis:
Ben 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...
I've been looking for something a little different for my wishlist recently, and this is one that keeps popping up in my periphery every now and again. And yesterday, it happened again. I was in Stratford with my boyfriend for our anniversary, nipped into the Waterstones there, and saw this on the shelf. So I thought, okay ... I think this book does finally want to be added to the wishlist.
The only reason I didn't buy it when I saw it there and then is because I'm going to London for YALC this weekend and will be on a three-day-long-book-spree!
But it is definitely one to keep in mind for the future!

What's on your wishlist this week? Let us know in the comments below, or link to your own Wishlist Wednesday post in the Linky :) 








Monday, 7 July 2014

Echo Boy by Matt Haig **Review**


Echo Boy by Matt Haig
Series: None
Pages: 400
Publisher: Bodley Head Children's Books
Release date: 27th March 2014
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

Add to Goodreads

Goodreads synopsis:
Audrey's father taught her that to stay human in the modern world, she had to build a moat around herself; a moat of books and music, philosophy and dreams. A moat that makes Audrey different from the echoes: sophisticated, emotionless machines, built to resemble humans and to work for human masters. Daniel is an Echo - but he's not like the others. He feels a connection with Audrey; a feeling Daniel knows he was never designed to have, and cannot explain. And when Audrey is placed in terrible danger, he's determined to save her. The Echo Boy is a powerful story about love, loss and what makes us truly human.

Matt Haig is one of those rare authors where I will pick up any book he has written without the need to even read the synopsis. What the book is about is not so much of a concern to me any more – I know it is Matt Haig, and therefore I trust that I will love it.
That was exactly what happened with Echo Boy. I loved his last book, The Humans, so much that I didn't even read the synopsis before I bought it, and I still didn't look at it before I started reading.
I trust Matt to write an amazing story, and this book cemented that trust further.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Wishlist Wednesday #147

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.

So what do you need to do to join in?
  • Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
  • Please consider adding the blog hop button to your blog somewhere, so others can find it easily and join in too! Help spread the word! The code will be at the bottom of the post under the linky.
  • Pick a book from your wishlist that you are dying to get to put on your shelves.
  • Do a post telling your readers about the book and why it's on your wishlist.
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of this post.
  • Put a link back to pen to paper (http://www.pentopaperblog.com) somewhere in your post, and a note saying that Pen to Paper is the host of the meme.
  • Visit the other blogs and enjoy!


Nameless
by Lili St. Crow

Synopsis:
When Camille was six years old, she was discovered alone in the snow by Enrico Vultusino, godfather of the Seven—the powerful Families that rule magic-ridden New Haven. Papa Vultusino adopted the mute, scarred child, naming her after his dead wife and raising her in luxury on Haven Hill alongside his own son, Nico.

Now Cami is turning sixteen. She’s no longer mute, though she keeps her faded scars hidden under her school uniform, and though she opens up only to her two best friends, Ruby and Ellie, and to Nico, who has become more than a brother to her. But even though Cami is a pampered Vultusino heiress, she knows that she is not really Family. Unlike them, she is a mortal with a past that lies buried in trauma. And it’s not until she meets the mysterious Tor, who reveals scars of his own, that Cami begins to uncover the secrets of her birth…to find out where she comes from and why her past is threatening her now.
After having to sort out a huge mess in my Goodreads shelves (thanks a bunch, Goodreads iPhone app), I found a load of books that I'd scanned a while ago and had completely forgotten about. This is one of the books that I had scanned but decided not to add to my wishlist or buy.
I know why I didn't put it on my wishlist before – I'd tried reading one of Lili's other books and hadn't gotten on with it very well – but this was three years ago now, and I reckon I'm ready to give her another shot.
This sounds like a great read, so I'm hoping this one doesn't disappoint me as well.

What's on your wishlist this week? Let us know in the comments below, or link to your own Wishlist Wednesday post in the Linky :) 








Saturday, 28 June 2014

She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick **Review**


She is Not Invisible
Series: None
Pages: 354
Publisher: Indigo
Release date: 3rd October 2013
Buy: Book Depository | Amazon UK | Amazon US | Waterstones

Add to Goodreads

Goodreads synopsis:
Laureth Peak's father is a writer. For years he's been trying, and failing, to write a novel about coincidence. His wife thinks he's obsessed, Laureth thinks he's on the verge of a breakdown. He's supposed to be doing research in Austria, so when his notebook shows up in New York, Laureth knows something is wrong. On impulse she steals her mother's credit card and heads for the States, taking her strange little brother Benjamin with her. Reunited with the notebook, they begin to follow clues inside, trying to find their wayward father. Ahead lie challenges and threats, all of which are that much tougher for Laureth than they would be for any other 16-year old. Because Laureth Peak is blind.

I have to admit that the very first thing that drew me to this book is the cover. What I'd come to expect from Marcus's books was a black cover, probably featuring quite a dark, gothic image, and a pretty creepy-sounding plot. She is Not Invisible is none of those things.
I wasn't sure quite what to expect from it, so I was pleasantly surprised by what I found when I read it.

This is the story of Laureth Peak, daughter of the famous writer Jack Peak (Oh, I like his older books. You know, the funny ones?). Although Laureth is blind, she is in charge of dealing with his fan mail. When an email arrives from someone in New York claiming to have her father's black notebook, when he's supposed to be in Switzerland, Laureth starts to worry that something is seriously wrong. Taking her seven year old brother, Benjamin, and his toy Raven, Stan, along with her, she sets off to New York to find her missing father.
This is obviously not an easy task for someone who is entirely blind, even with her brother there to help guide her – he is only seven, after all. They are constantly surrounded by the dangers of a strange city, but somehow they still manage to navigate it and begin to work out what might have happened to their father.

I loved so many things about this story. First, I obviously have to mention Laureth. What an amazing character! She doesn't let being blind stop her from doing the things she feels she needs to do, despite the obvious dangers involved. She is strong and much more confident than I think she believes herself to be (she thinks it's a front, but I think she must have some level of confidence in herself to be able to put up a front in the first place), and she is incredibly determined, carrying on even when things seem impossible.
I really believed in her character, so much so that I could almost imagine what the world is like to her. Obviously, for someone with sight, it's not possible to entirely understand what being blind is like, but I think Marcus has done an incredible job of showing the world through Laureth in a way that is believable, emotive and incredibly vibrant. Where one sense is absent, the others help to build a picture of the world around her that others often miss. I really loved being able to experience the world in this way.

There were other characters in the book that I feel are definitely worth a mention. Benjamin was fantastic – very street smart and intelligent for a seven year old, incredibly loyal and loving towards Laureth, and so, so adorable. I fell in love with him straight away – if I could, I'd have wrapped him up in my arms and given him one almighty cuddle!
There are other characters that, although they play a much smaller role, still gave something to the story. Michael, the character who finds Laureth's father's notebook, was quirky and interesting, and I really enjoyed getting to know a little about him. The boy that Laureth meets on the plane, however briefly, is also interesting – although I was hoping to see more of him than we did. I thought there was going to be a bigger storyline there than there was.
And, of course, we have Jack Peak, Laureth and Benjamin's father, who although physically absent for the majority of the novel, his words remain with us throughout and we get to know him through Laureth's memories and his scribblings in his notebook.

The story was a really compelling one, and although the writings about the theory behind coincidences didn't entirely make sense (though I'm not sure they would to many... maybe I'm just being hopeful), I really enjoyed it.
I also thought that the extra little touch at the very end of the book was wonderful – very creative and touching. I've never seen anything quite like that being done before, and I had a lot of fun putting it together. You'll have to read it to find out what I mean!

She is Not Invisible is a really beautiful and inspiring story that had me gripped from page 1 to page 354 (yes, that is relevant). Wonderfully written, very creative and highly emotive, this is not a book to be missed.
 
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