The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
Posted on Friday, April 29th, 2016 by Emily May

The Rose & the Dagger by Renee AhdiehThe Rose and the Dagger by Renée Ahdieh
Published by Penguin Young Readers Group on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 432
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I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust. In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse--one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.
While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

No. He was not here to wreak revenge.
For revenge was trifling and hollow.
No. He was not here to retrieve his wife.
For his wife was not a thing to be retrieved.
No. He was not here to negotiate a truce.
For a truce suggested he wished to compromise.

He was here to burn something to the ground.

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn
Posted on Wednesday, April 27th, 2016 by Emily May

Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus QuinnDown with the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn
Published by HarperCollins on April 26th 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 368
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Think twice before you make a wish in this imaginative, twisted, and witty new novel from the author of Another Little Piece.
When Lennie brings a few jars of her uncles’ moonshine to Michaela Gordon’s house party, she has everyone who drinks it make a wish. It’s tradition. So is the toast her uncles taught her: “May all your wishes come true, or at least just this one.”
The thing is, those words aren’t just a tradition. The next morning, every wish—no matter how crazy—comes true. And most of them turn out bad. But once granted, a wish can’t be unmade . . .

This started strong, but grew too silly for my tastes.
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One StarOne Star

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight
Posted on Monday, April 25th, 2016 by Emily May

The Outliers by Kimberly McCreightThe Outliers by Kimberly McCreight
Published by HarperCollins on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Mystery & Thriller, Young Adult
Pages: 352
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It all starts with a text: Please, Wylie, I need your help. Wylie hasn’t heard from Cassie in over a week, not since their last fight. But that doesn’t matter. Cassie’s in trouble, so Wylie decides to do what she has done so many times before: save her best friend from herself.
This time it’s different, though. Instead of telling Wylie where she is, Cassie sends cryptic clues. And instead of having Wylie come by herself, Jasper shows up saying Cassie sent him to help. Trusting the guy who sent Cassie off the rails doesn’t feel right, but Wylie has no choice but to ignore her gut instinct and go with him.
But figuring out where Cassie is goes from difficult to dangerous, fast. As Wylie and Jasper head farther and farther north into the dense woods of Maine, Wylie struggles to control her growing sense that something is really wrong. What isn’t Cassie telling them? And could finding her be only the beginning?

I made a real effort to convince myself this book was worth more than one teacup. After all, I really enjoyed the author’s adult novel – Reconstructing Amelia – and the beginning was more cliche than outright awful.

But this book is nuts. Abso-freaking-lutely nuts. And it just kept getting worse. Like, laughably bad.

As I said, we didn’t start out on the best terms. I’ve seen variations of these YA crime/mystery stories many times and I’ve lost count of how many involve a missing/dead best friend, a hot guy who was involved with said best friend (a douche who turns out to be not so much a douche), a mysterious text, and two teens deciding to solve a mystery without telling any parents or police – and, seriously, they never have a good reason for doing this!

In this book, Wylie’s friend – Cassie – has gone missing. While her dad goes to help Cassie’s mom, Jasper (Cassie’s boyfriend) turns up at the door with a strange text from Cassie. They must go driving across state lines to find her! And they must tell no one! OTT, unbelievable thing #1 .

Despite suffering from agoraphobia since her mom died, Wylie takes a deep breath, grabs her coat and leaves her house for the first time in forever. As easy as clicking her heels together! OTT, unbelievable thing #2.

Then they set out on this long road trip, which is a) boring, and b) when not boring, absolutely ludicrous. Near-death experiences, chases through the woods, and (view spoiler). OTT, unbelievable thing #3. Plus, I started to hate Wylie for ignoring her poor dad’s concerned texts for so long.

Also – are these two TSTL or what? Cassie sends another mysterious text saying the people she’s with are “not who I thought they were” and Wylie is worried. Oh, worried are you, Wylie? How’s about calling the police instead of tootling along to where your friend is in trouble with an unknown number of people? There could be fifty of them with guns, for all you know. OTT, unbelievable thing #4.

And then we get to the final stretch of the novel, which is so ridiculous it is actually funny. One twist after another after another. But they’re not good twists. I promise not to give away any spoilers, but the only way it could be more insane is if Wylie was actually an alien with a mission to destroy earth and she’d been lying to us all this time (I’m only slightly exaggerating).

It’s also possible – though still undetermined – that the author may be taking us towards a complete genre change by the end. Who knows, though? It was so messy, I think I might have got lost.

The novel jolts to a close with a melodramatic cliffhanger that made me snort with laughter. Everything about this book is so farfetched to the point of being farcical. I mean, let me just tell you the last word, just the single last word of the book (spoiler-tagged, of course, even though it doesn’t give away anything): View Spoiler »

Sorry, I need to go laugh some more.

One Star

Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima
Posted on Friday, April 22nd, 2016 by Emily May

Flamecaster by Cinda Williams ChimaFlamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima
Published by HarperCollins on April 5th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 544
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Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now he’s closer than ever to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. With time running out, Ash faces an excruciating choice: Can he use his powers not to save a life but to take it?
Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught. 
Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the ruthless king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.

“Hope is the thing that can’t be reined in by rules or pinned down by bitter experience. It’s a blessing and a curse.”

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Posted on Monday, April 18th, 2016 by Emily May

Me Before You by Jojo MoyesMe Before You by Jojo Moyes
Published by Penguin on December 31st 2012
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Women, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 400
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They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

As much as I like a good love story, I wouldn’t call myself a romantic. Not by a long shot. In fact, I can be pretty cold-hearted when it comes to romance books, remaining emotionless in the face of tragic heartbreak and loss. The Fault in Our Stars didn’t move me. Eleanor & Park was cute, but still an average read for me.

There’s just certain things that I don’t like. Emotionally manipulative books that feel as if the author set out with an agenda to tug at my heart strings – that would be up there with the worst. I guess I subconsciously rebel when I can see what the author’s trying to do to my feelings. I avoid a lot of adult chick lit for this reason – because experience has shown that most of these books are like Lifetime movies: melodramatic and cheesily message-driven.

But somehow – despite my reluctance to try this book because it seemed it would fall into all the aforementioned boxes – I ended up caving under the pressure and grabbing this book from my local library. I didn’t expect much. I was just going to try a little bit and see how it went, feeling confident that it would be crappy and I would be right. But hell, I got schooled.

I just… I can’t even pretend anymore, screw the book snobbery, I thought Me Before You was wonderful.

I laughed.
I cried.
I shipped like crazy.
I stayed up most of the night.

Being proven wrong may never have felt so good.

I got the giggles about halfway through chapter one and struggled to get rid of them. Humour books are always a difficult sell because I guess it always depends on what you find funny… but I found Lou Clark to be an hilarious heroine. She’s one of those charming but unfortunate individuals that finds herself in numerous awkward situations but somehow gets through them and just warms your heart with her delightful lack of propriety.

I don’t know if there is really such a thing as a “British sense of humour” but I’ve enjoyed a bunch of British chick lit/humour with similar MCs – Bridget Jones, Confessions of Georgia Nicholson – so maybe there’s a pattern here with my tastes.

If you’re considering this book but think you’re a shameless unromantic like me, DO NOT read any quotes from it. People keep pulling up these quotes about the meaning of life and carpe diem and it makes the whole thing seem much cheesier than it is. I thought there was a pleasant lack of cheese, hehe. It’s also nowhere near as romantic as everything tries to make you think: the cover (the UK one is even worse), the blurb, the title… when actually there’s very little romance. There is a touch of finding love in unexpected places and against the odds, but the main focus of this book is about life and the importance of choices.

If you haven’t already been told, the story is about Lou who needs a job and Will who needs a carer after an accident left him paralysed. Completely unable to move anything below his mid torso, Will longs for death and wants to go to Switzerland to put an end to his misery. Horrified by this discovery, Lou sets out to improve his life and give him a reason to live and look forward to each day. The relationship between them is told in such a wonderful way and develops through several stages, each filled with hilarity.

I think people’s reactions, emotions and decisions felt completely realistic in Me Before You, even if I didn’t always like them. The whole book was filled with the funny, ridiculous situations that we expect to find in comic fiction, but balanced out with a hard dose of reality. It makes you think about things you didn’t think about before without seeming like the author wanted to make you think about them. Things like just how depressing the lack of wheelchair access is in most venues. But there’s a great balance between the funny and the serious, so the latter never becomes too much.

This book made me feel all the emotions without seeming to try too hard. Love was found in a very unexpected place and I definitely want to check out the author’s other work.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Posted on Friday, April 15th, 2016 by Emily May

The Magicians by Lev GrossmanThe Magicians by Lev Grossman
Published by Viking on 2009
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 402
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Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A high school math genius, he's secretly fascinated with a series of children's fantasy novels set in a magical land called Fillory, and real life is disappointing by comparison. When Quentin is unexpectedly admitted to an elite, secret college of magic, it looks like his wildest dreams have come true. But his newfound powers lead him down a rabbit hole of hedonism and disillusionment, and ultimately to the dark secret behind the story of Fillory. The land of his childhood fantasies turns out to be much darker and more dangerous than he ever could have imagined. . . .

I know this is a thing us bibliophiles really shouldn’t say EVER, but: I think the TV show is way better.

Don’t hurt me.
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One StarOne Star

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
Posted on Wednesday, April 13th, 2016 by Emily May

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie BerryThe Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry
Published by Penguin Young Readers Group on April 12th 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 496
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I must write this account, and when I have finished, I will burn it.    Buried deep within the archives of a convent in medieval France is an untold story of love, loss, and wonder and the two girls at the heart of it all.    Dolssa is an upper-crust city girl with a secret lover and an uncanny gift. Branded a heretic, she's on the run from the friar who condemned her mother to death by fire, and wants Dolssa executed, too.   Botille is a matchmaker and a tavern-keeper, struggling to keep herself and her sisters on the right side of the law in their seaside town of Bajas.   When their lives collide by a dark riverside, Botille rescues a dying Dolssa and conceals her in the tavern, where an unlikely friendship blooms. Aided by her sisters and Symo, her surly but loyal neighbor, Botille nurses Dolssa back to health and hides her from her pursuers.  But all of Botille's tricks, tales, and cleverness can't protect them forever, and when the full wrath of the Church bears down upon Bajas, Dolssa's passion and Botille's good intentions could destroy the entire village.

The pure song of a nightingale, a rossinhol, rang across the water, ending in a trill. It was an hour for sprites and fairies. What magic might lurk among the riverbank grasses? Anything was possible just before dawn.

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Half Lost by Sally Green
Posted on Monday, April 11th, 2016 by Emily May

Half Lost by Sally GreenHalf Lost by Sally Green
Published by Penguin on March 29th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 352
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The magical, stunning conclusion to the internationally acclaimed Half Bad trilogy.
The Alliance is losing. Their most critical weapon, seventeen-year-old witch Nathan Brynn, has killed fifty-two people, and yet he’s no closer to ending the tyrannical, abusive rule of the Council of White Witches in England. Nor is Nathan any closer to his personal goal: getting revenge on Annalise, the girl he once loved, before she committed an unthinkable crime. There is an amulet, protected by the extremely powerful witch Ledger, which could be the tool Nathan needs to save himself and the Alliance. But the amulet is not so easily acquired. And lately Nathan has started to suffer from visions: a vision of a golden moment when he dies, and of an endless line of Hunters, impossible to overcome. Gabriel, his closest companion, encourages Nathan to run away with him, to start a peaceful life together. But even Gabriel’s love may not be enough to save Nathan from this war, or from the person he has become.

“I’ve killed fifty-two people. But really all I want is to get my hands on her. I’d be happy with fifty-three. Just one more and I’ll be satisfied.”

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One StarOne StarHalf a Star

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Posted on Thursday, April 7th, 2016 by Emily May

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuireEvery Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
Published by Macmillan on April 5th 2016
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 176
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Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere... else.
But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.
Nancy tumbled once, but now she's back. The things she's experienced... they change a person. The children under Miss West's care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.
But Nancy's arrival marks a change at the Home. There's a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it's up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things.
No matter the cost.

“We went down, and at the bottom there was a door, and on the door there was a sign. Two words. ‘Be Sure.’ Sure of what? We were twelve, we weren’t sure of anything. So we went through.”

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One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
Posted on Monday, April 4th, 2016 by Emily May

Jane Steele by Lyndsay FayeJane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
Published by Penguin on March 22nd 2016
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
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“Reader, I murdered him.”   A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until escaping to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement.  Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess.   Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents—the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, and the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose history with Mr. Thornfield appears far deeper and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him—body, soul, and secrets—without revealing her own murderous past?

The first 1/3-1/2 of this book was really great.
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One StarOne StarOne Star

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Hi! I'm Emily May but feel free to call me Emily. I'm a nerdy, book-loving Politics graduate from the North of England.

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