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Review: This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

This Song Will Save Your Life - Leila Sales


Full review also posted here on TotalTeenFiction.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I'd seen This Song Will Save Your Life mentioned on a few blogs over the past few months and it caught my attention because I adore books about music. I was delighted when I was sent a proof copy to review. The book follows Elise who is struggling socially at school. Wandering the street late at night leads her to an underground DJ night where she meets DJ Char and party-goers Vicky and Pippa. Soon she is swept into their world and discovers her new passion; DJ'ing.

The beginning of the book sees Elise in a quite a dark place. She's working hard on changing her image so she'll fit in at school and when all her attempts fail, she ends up feeling suicidal and harming herself. I have huge respect for the author for taking on these subjects and managing to get inside Elise's head and portray her worries so well. The book also deals with issues like cyber bullying and references eating disorders and binge drinking. I think it's important that books don't shy away from these things and although some scenes may be dark, I was really pleased with how they were addressed. This Song Will Save Your Life managed to balance everything really well so that you feel the emotion but there's enough uplifting moments to keep you entertained as well as moved.

I think the real problem Elise has is loneliness, and the book addresses how having friends during your high school days is in now way a given. I could relate to a few of the scenarios she finds herself in. There's one part of the book where she describes all the ways she copes with lunchtime because she can't go to the cafeteria, and it brought back memories of a time when I used to wander round school pretending to look for someone because I didn't actually have anyone to hang around with! I think loneliness can be one of the hardest things to deal with, especially at that age, and so I thought it was a great avenue to explore.

I really liked Elise as a main character. She's incredibly smart (something she's bullied because of) but she also has a real determination. Every hobby she takes up she puts her heart and soul into to try and be the best which was a trait I really liked about her. The book is written in first person and I adored her voice. She comes across as slightly older than her sixteen years but that's in no way a bad thing! I think she's become more mature by having to deal with the extreme immaturity of her peers. In a way I could relate to that as well. I always felt a bit older than those around me during my teens. Basically a lot of this book was relatable!

The story charts Elise's journey as she enters the world of DJ'ing.When I went into this book I probably had quite a close-minded view of the scene, so it was really refreshing to have my eyes opened to this world. The focus really is on the music and everybody getting lost in those songs. My proof copy had a playlist at the back which I'm sure will be available in the finished copy as
well and it made me want to go and seek out all of those songs. (You can listen to the playlist via Spotify at this link!) Start, the club night Elise discovers, is an indie disco so there's a brilliant mix of old and new music. I love how the book takes that connection you have with songs and how you relate them to your life and weaves it into the story.

There was a great ensemble of characters in . I really liked Vicky and Pippa and what they brought to the story. Vicky is really funny and brings out a bit of confidence in Elise. I thought it was good that the darker side of the party lifestyle was reflected in Pippa's struggles as well. I liked the way Elise looks upon her half-sister Alex as a younger version of herself and how she reflects on her own experiences by comparing them to Alex's.

There is an underlying romantic storyline throughout the book but it's not overplayed. I liked that the focus wasn't so much on that particular love story, because the book is really all about Elise learning to like herself which is far more important! And I was really impressed that Elise herself doesn't get swept away by a guy who she doesn't know that well. She's really level headed about the whole thing which was so refreshing for a YA novel. There was one character who appears nearer the end of the book who I wish was introduced a lot sooner but that's all I'll say! The plot was quite gentle paced and I was maybe expecting a few more twists and turns, but if you love character driven novels then I think if provides enough to sink your teeth into.

I think this book really sums up a lot of what growing up is about and what it feels like during those years when you're so worried about what people think of you and how to fit in. It captured the trials and tribulations of school and friendships brilliantly. It's a book I'd definitely recommend and I can't wait to read more by this author.

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Model Misfit - Holly Smale Just as funny, geeky and heart-warming as book 1! Review to come.
Geek Girl - Holly Smale Full review also posted here on TotalTeenFiction

Geek Girl was a book I've been wanting to read for a long time, partly because anything with the word geek in the title completely has my attention, and partly because other bloggers had been raving about it. When it came up on Kindle Daily Deal I snatched it up! Geek Girl follows geeky Harriet as she is plucked from obscurity and thrown head first into the fashion world.

I knew I was going to love this book right away because I was already giggling within the first few pages. Books that make me physically laugh are so rare and so the humour in Geek Girl was refreshing and became one of my favourite things about the book. I spent the whole weekend devouring it and came very close to sticking a "do not disturb" sign on my door because I just did not want to be interrupted whilst reading!

Part of the reason I adored the humour in Geek Girl so much was because Harriet herself was so hilarious. Her voice throughout the book was so witty and the way she describes her experiences and little anecdotes made me laugh so much. I loved that she's a little bit hapless and clumsy and one of the best things about Harriet is that despite all her disasters throughout the story, she still remains a completely believable character. What's happening to her is crazy but ultimately I could completely believe the story and that is really important to me. Obviously, given the title, Harriet is incredibly smart, but she's also so likable and nice and someone you'd really want to be friends with which is one of the biggest compliments I can give a character!

The ensemble of characters surrounding Harriet were just as brilliant. She lives with her dad and stepmum Annabel and I loved the family dynamic between them. Harriet and her dad are so similar and I adored the scenes where it was the two of them trying to figure their way out of situations. Annabel also was the perfect antidote to the two of them as she's the voice of reason and common sense so they all balance each other out in the end! I loved the up and down friendship between Harriet and Nat which I think will be relatable to a lot of people. When you're fifteen it's so easy for jealousy to get in the way of things are for you to blow everything out of proportion. I recognised their friendship immediately. The boys in this book were great too, from swoon-worthy model Nick to bumbling, fellow geek and Harriet stalker Toby.

The plot of Geek Girl sees Harriet spotted and whisked off to become a model, despite loathing the fashion world and being much happier watching documentaries. Harriet herself sees it as a chance to change herself after the taunting she gets at school for being a geek. I loved the balance of crazy, hysterical plot and realistic teen issues. We've all been there when you start to question who you are because you are teased about it. Some of the moments Harriet has at school were so reminiscent of my own experiences that I really connected with her in those moments. I think the underlying themes and tones of the book are immensely positive and it's all about learning to embrace who you are. I really appreciated the rubbish decisions Harriet makes as well because making mistakes is how you learn! And she learns a lot over the course of the book.

The book had lots of short chapters and every so often you'd get a chapter beginning with a list because Harriet loves lists, and as a list-lover myself books with lists in automatically make me love them a bit more! The fast pace of the book made it utterly addictive as well. I just couldn't put it down because it was so much fun and there was constantly something happening.

There are probably a billion and one things I've forgotten to mention in this review, because trying to remember all the amazing things about a book this awesome is hard! I absolutely adored it. I loved Harriet, I loved the story and I thought the writing was just perfect. It was a quick read but one that really packed a punch and it was exactly the kind of fun read I needed, but I liked that it had its serious moments as well. It was the perfect balance. I'll be recommending this book to pretty much anyone I talk to from now on and the fab news is that there are more Geek Girl books! The sequel Model Misfit comes out this month and I can't wait to read it.

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Skulk - Rosie Best Really enjoyed this! A great idea and Meg was a fab main character. Review to come.
The Maze Runner (Maze Runner Series) - James Dashner Full review also posted here on TotalTeenFiction

I have been dying to read this book for so long, so when I entered a book shop with money recently and it was sitting there, staring at me from the shelves, I could resist no longer. The Maze Runner tells the story of Thomas, who wakes up in a lift with his name being the only thing he can remember about himself. From there he enters the Glade, an area at the centre of a maze where he and dozens of other boys are trapped with no clue why they are there or how to escape.

One of the best things about The Maze Runner was the opening. You are literally thrown head first into the story. There's no steady build up. You are right there with Thomas as he finds himself in this completely unknown situation, and from there on it is all action and suspense. I was hooked from the very first page!

The concept was fantastic. Thomas and the others are thrown together in the middle of a giant maze, completely isolated from the outside world. They have to fight to survive as well as trying to figure out the puzzle of why they're there. That isolated nature of the story really gave it this creepy feel. You know there are people out there somewhere controlling what is happening, but neither the reader or the characters have any idea who that is or why they're doing it. I was pretty freaked out for a lot of this book! I could really feel the fear of the characters. The plot was full of action and suspense and I was completely addicted.

I loved the use of language in The Maze Runner. When Thomas arrives, he has to fit himself into this group of people who already have their own way of life, including their own little dialect. They use words like "Greenie" (meaning "newbie") and "klunk" (meaning something unsavoury I won't go in to!) and have created their own names for their surroundings, for example the Glade, the Cliff and the Grievers - the freaky half animal, half robot creatures that roam the maze. It really helped show the community that has come to exist in the Glade and how Thomas is on the edge of that when he arrives. You can see his gradual integration into the group as he starts to adapt to their language. Reading this book definitely took me back to reading The Lord of the Flies. These kids are having to run things amongst themselves and it doesn't always go smoothly.

The characters were fantastic too. I thought Thomas was a fascinating main character. He has this drive and determination to get to the bottom of things and sees past the boundaries the other Gladers have put up for themselves. I liked that he could see outside of the box so to speak, and that doesn't always stick to the rules and will go out on a limb to protect people. There's this constant hint at there being more to his character as well which I found interesting. His friendship with Chuck was one of my highlights. Chuck is a bit of an underdog and Thomas really sees the potential in him which showed of both of their characters really well. I liked Minho as well. What was great as well was that despite the big ensemble of characters in the Glade, the story really just focuses on the few people who play a key role in the plot, so I never got confused or distracted.

The great thing about a character with memory loss is that it can really help the world building, because you're introduced to things at the same time that they are. For the most part I thought this worked in The Maze Runner because I was just as curious as Thomas about what was happening. The book was heading for five stars, but there was a twist towards the end that just felt a little bit convenient for me. I'd been waiting and waiting for a big reveal and when it finally came, the way it was delivered just left me feeling a bit flat. The first three-hundred pages were phenomenal, and it really picked up towards the very end as well, but there were just a few moments that frustrated me because I felt like it was too easy.

Overall that one little niggle didn't taint my enjoyment of the story too much. I was completely hooked and would highly recommend this book. I loved the writing and the exciting premise, and the fact the book was non-stop action and suspense. I really regret waiting so long to read it! What drew me in was the comparison to The Hunger Games, and I can definitely seeing it appealing to fans of that book. If you liked dystopia, action, survival and thriller in your books then this is for you. The ending has me on tenterhooks for the next book (I've already requested it from the library!) and I'm excited to see where the trilogy goes. I'd definitely read more books from this author.

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Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell Full review also posted here on TotalTeenFiction

I've heard great things about Rainbow Rowell's books and they've been on my wishlist for a while. When I won a copy of Fangirl I was over the moon! Fangirl tells the story of Cather, a devotee of the Simon Snow book series and writer of Simon Snow fanfiction, as she starts college and has to juggle being a freshman and being a fangirl.

So I was already excited by the subject matter of that book, and that excitement level only went up once I actually started it. Because this book is just so me. I think anyone who's been involved with any kind of online fandom will absolutely adore this book because it just stirred up so many memories of experiences I've had in my own life, and it had all these little references that made me squeal. I mean a main character who writes fanfiction?! I'm still so happy that Fangirl has made that a thing. I actually had to text my friend and recommend her this book as I was reading it because she writes fanfiction and I just felt the need to let her know this book existed. Plus I have a confession: I have written fanfiction. And you know what? In the past that has been something that I've hidden from people because I was embarrassed. Not anymore. In fact reading this book has made me want to log into my sadly neglected account, find a load of new fics to read and then finish writing all my unfinished fics.

So Fangirl was already off to a pretty good start. Then I got to know the main character, Cather, and well I just fell in love with this book a whole lot more. Not only is Cath a fangirl with a huge talent at writing fanfiction, she is also shy, socially awkward and completely lovable. I just felt this affinity with her straight away because I share her worrying nature. Like there's this thing in the book where she's too scared to go to the dining hall because she doesn't know where it is and she's too scared to ask and she's worried that even if she did know where it was and went there that she wouldn't know how the system worked and she'd get something wrong. I instantly recognised that thought process from myself when facing new social situations. I mean sometimes life is just too confusing! I was just relieved I'm not alone when it comes to this kind of thing and Fangirl gave me the ability to laugh at myself and the ridiculous-ness of it all.

There's also the fact that Cath is a twin, and is sort of living in the shadow of her sister Wren. Wren is determined to be more independent now that the two of them have started college, so Cath kind of gets left behind as Wren goes off and has the confidence to make new friends and do new things. I loved how the relationship between them had its ups and downs. There's that great theme of discovering yourself and growing up and trying to make it in the big wide world. I really felt for Cath as she struggles to adjust to all those changes. Plus I was just totally excited to read a book about twins. I've secretly always wanted to be a twin. I blame The Parent Trap. I love books focused on sister relationships too because they make me think about the relationship I have with my own sister.

So this review is already turning out to be a lot of gushing and I haven't even got to Levi yet. I love Levi. He and Cath are so different yet they have such brilliant chemistry. When Cath starts college she's kind of a bit hopeless with boys. She's with her current boyfriend Abel because he's a safe choice, but finally she's starting to have her eyes opened to the lovely guys out there. And Levi is one of them. I loved that he takes the time to talk to her and get to know her, and that he really brings out the best in her. He's caring and thoughtful and hilarious. I think he gets safely bumped to the top of my "favourite male characters" list. I adored Cath's roommate Reagan too. She's so full of attitude and has that wicked brutal honesty.

Whilst the characters were a huge strong point for me, the plot also kept my attention all the way through. There's some really heartbreaking moments as well as some really uplifting ones. I loved the journey Cath and her family go on throughout the book, especially the relationship with the girls and their dad. Not everything is plain sailing and there's some testing times. The book has this great build up with both the end of the school year and the final Simon Snow book release coinciding, so all the time you kind of see everything working towards those two points.

I loved that there were little snippets of the Simon Snow books as well as Cath's fanfiction dotted throughout the book between chapters. I think it helped me get caught up in Cath's world and experience what she was going through with those characters. I also really liked the fact that Cath was an aspiring writer who was struggling to break out of writing just fanfiction. So many aspiring writers like myself start out with fanfiction so it was something I could really relate to.

Getting back onto the topic of fandom, I just loved being able to relate to all of it. When Cath was putting her Simon Snow posters up in her dorm room, I was looking up at my Harry Potter ones on my wall. I feel like Rowell has tapped into that world perfectly in a way that really makes me proud to have been so wrapped up in a fandom like Cath is. Of course you can see all the Harry Potter parallels in the book which makes it even more brilliant.

I can't tell you how heartbroken I was to finish this book. I just loved spending time with the characters so much that I didn't want it to end! I got so caught up in every part of Cath's life, to the point where I was dying for the last Simon Snow book to come out in the story so I could see her reaction to it. And it's so rare that a book leaves me wanting to really act upon the feelings I had whilst reading it. Like I said, it's made me want to go and inhale a load of fanfic so I'm going to go and do that right now. Oh and I wish I was a twin even more badly now. I feel like Rowell has captured so many wonderful things about fandom so accurately, as well as creating this wonderful story I couldn't bare to put down. I'll be reading more of her work in the future, that's for sure!

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The Last Anniversary - Liane Moriarty Ahh this was so fun! Delightful characters and a cute, mysterious plot. Can't wait to check out more by this author.
All Our Yesterdays  - Cristin Terrill I enjoyed this, but had no idea what my rating was going to be until the last couple of chapters. They really won me over! Review to come.
Anywhere - J. Meyers Full review also posted here on TotalTeenFiction

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

I absolutely loved J. Meyers' other books Intangible and Imaginable, so when I heard about Anywhere - which is a completely different genre to the Intangible series - I was really excited to dive in! Anywhere follows Skye as she embarks on her travels across Europe. When her plans with best friend Paige end up falling through, she finds herself in the company of the oh-so-lovely Asher.

It is so rare that I read a book with a constant smile on my face, but that is what happened with Anywhere. Like I'm writing this review straight away after finishing the book and I still have this ridiculous grin on my face. I adored this book. Completely and utterly adored it.

Firstly, I love a good road trip novel. Anything that involves travelling has me interested, and Skye's travels in Anywhere made for the most beautiful backdrop to her story. Along the way she visits, Paris, Rome, Venice, Bern and so many more gorgeous places. It was the perfect bit of escapism! The writing had me itching to be in Skye's place and be the one visiting all these incredible cities, because the descriptions of the places were so exciting! I read large parts of this book on my train journey to and from the beach, which was probably one of the most perfect places to read it.

The plot in Anywhere follows Skye and Asher, who meet at a train station in Paris and suddenly wind up heading off together to Rome. Skye's best friend has disappeared back home after some life-changing news, but Skye knows she needs to stay and finish her travels, as it's something she's so longed to do. I adored the way Skye had to spread her wings and find some independence. You could really feel that as a theme throughout the book. She's just narrowly escaped being tied down to a man she doesn't really love, and so the freedom to explore the world on her own terms is exactly what she needs.

And now we have to talk about the chemistry between Skye and Asher, which was just incredible! They hit it off straight away, but it never felt rushed or forced. The relationship between them just felt so natural and they fit together perfectly. They have the same sense of humour and the same outlook on life and thirst for exploration. As the relationship develops you get some pretty steamy scenes, but unlike other NA novels I've read, they never felt overdone or tacky. The tone was spot on, and I just swooned throughout the whole thing. I love Asher, okay? Can I have him?

I thought the two of them were wonderful characters, and I loved their individual back stories and how you get to learn more about them as the story went on. I think the relationship between Skye and her brother Julian was one of my favourite parts, and I particularly loved their text conversations. In fact, the use of text conversations between both Julian and Skye, and Skye and Paige really added a little something to the story. They were so fun. I thought the phone calls between Skye and her mother were a nice touch, too, even if their relationship is somewhat strained!

I devoured Anywhere in the space of a day, and it's a perfect summery read that will sweep you away. I got so carried away in Skye and Asher's story and their wonderful adventures that I just didn't want the book to end. And the ending - well, that had me practically jumping up and down! I really hope Meyers writes more books in this genre, because her writing is phenomenal and Anywhere just reinforced that for me. Now excuse me whilst I got and plan my travels around Europe and dream of finding my own Asher...

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Cruel Summer - James Dawson Full review also posted here on TotalTeenFiction

I loved Hollow Pike by James Dawson, and was completely intrigued by the idea of his latest book! Cruel Summer follows a group of friends as they come to terms with their friend's apparent suicide. But there's just that niggling doubt in all of their minds that something wasn't quite right that night, and that someone in the group knows more than they're letting on. As the group take up residence in a holiday villa in Spain, there's no place to hide and secrets start to come to light.

So let me start off by saying that when I'm not reading YA, I am devouring crime. One of my favourite authors of all time is Mark Billingham, a British detective fiction writer. When I heard about Cruel Summer and the fact is was a murder mystery - a YA murder mystery - I knew I HAD to get my hands on it. Luckily the author was at Leakycon, as were some very lovely booksellers, so I managed to grab myself a copy.

The prologue opens with Janey's death, which is the spark of the story. Then we're introduced to Janey's group of friends which includes Ryan and his bff Katie, Katie's on-again-off-again boyfriend Ben, twins Alisha and Greg and Greg's girlfriend Erin, as well as super-bitch Roxanne. They're such a fantastic bunch of characters with wicked personalities, and as it becomes clear that one of the group is hiding something, suspicion turns to literally everyone. I had no idea who to trust or who to suspect but I loved that it kept me guessing!

My favourite thing about Cruel Summer, and therefore one of the things I have to mention early in my review, is the way the story is narrated. The book is told in third person from various characters POV, but the predominant character is Ryan, and Ryan admits he sees his life like a TV show. That means the book is narrated as such, with chapters titled "scene one" or "flashback" and Ryan gives this little commentary on what would be happening right now if it were in fact a TV show. I thought it was just a fantastically brilliant way of telling the story. It made it more exciting and visual, and really fitted in well with the plot and style of the book. Even when we get to see chapters from other characters perspective, such as Alisha, they take on Ryan's style and reference his quirky way of referring to things like a TV show.

I think a great thriller needs to deliver plot twists, and have the ability to get you so caught up in the plot that it can make you squirm. Cruel Summer delivered on both of those points. I probably use the phrase jaw-dropping a lot in reviews, but never has that phrase been so freakingly accurate as my reaction when reading this book. There were plot twists all over the place, and cliffhangers that meant I couldn't bare to put the book down. And it so delivered on the creepy factor! I also loved how all the little bits of information that don't seem that significant at the time are dotted throughout the book, later coming back to play a huge role. It was so cleverly done.

The book is set the summer after most of the gang's first year of university, and involves a lot of reflection over their last year of school. As well as the mysterious death they have to deal with, there's also a bucket load of unresolved drama between the group with love triangles and friendship dramas aplenty. I particularly liked Ryan's storyline which I can't say too much about for fear of spoilers! And Alisha had some fantastic moments too. I thought the relationship between the friends was spot on. I loved the dialogue between them and how, even though this is a thriller, I still laughed a lot. The writing was modern and slick, and the little pop culture references dotted throughout the book just added to my enjoyment of the story and made the characters and story feel pretty darn realistic.

The climax of Cruel Summer was definitely an adrenaline rush. I was reading the book in the same room as my sister and I kept shouting things like "no way!" and thoroughly confusing her with my outbursts. But guys, this book is incredible. I want more YA murder mysteries like this please! The characters were incredible, the plot was gripping and tense and the writing was fantastic. I'll be recommending this book a lot in future.

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The Girl Next Door - Selene Castrovilla Full review originally posted on TotalTeenFiction as part of The Girl Next Door Blog Tour.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from A Book and a Latte PR in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour.

The Girl Next Door tells the story of Sam, whose best friend Jesse is dying of cancer. With time ticking away, the two of them must tackle their feelings for each other and make the best of the time they have together.

Now I'll admit, I love a sad book. I know some people can be put off about books which are going to tug at your heartstrings and turn you into an emotional wreck, but books that move me and tackle real, dark subjects are always high on my list. And The Girl Next Door is a sad book. The opening few chapters are quite bleak, and once I read that the main character Sam's dad is a 9/11 victim on top of the fact that her best friend is dying of cancer I was nervous. I knew this was going to be a tough book to read, but instantly I felt for the characters and the situation they're in and was able to get wrapped up in a powerful, emotional and heartwarming read.

The book is told from Sam's point of view, so we get to see how she deals with the prospect of losing her best friend. I liked that nothing was sugar-coated, and that we get to see the real low points of Sam's struggle. As well as tackling Jesse's cancer, the author has also taken on the issue of depression with Sam getting help to deal with her feelings about Jess dying. I was really glad to see that subject approached, and it made me really sympathise with Sam and what she is going through as well. I think it proved that sometimes you have to look after yourself and be selfish! I could relate personally to that situations, as I've been ill myself (although thankfully nothing as serious as cancer) and those around me have also felt the blow of having to live with and care for someone with a chronic illness. It's something that affects everyone.

But the book definitely isn't all bleak! At the end of the day it's a love story, and Sam and Jess have some incredibly sweet moments. I loved their little heart-to-hearts as they discuss their feelings for each other and the future, and their "seize the moment" attitude was something that really resonated with me. I always love a good friends to more-than-friends story. You can tell that Sam and Jess already have this amazing chemistry and trust between them. Plus there's some steamy scenes between the two of them. Jess is scared of dying a virgin, and so there's a fair few sex references/scenes in there. I thought they were really well done and it was so sweet seeing their relationship develop and the two of them really making the most of the time they have together.

One of the book's real strengths was definitely the characters. I loved Sam's mum who's a writer, and Maria, Jess's crazy housekeeper. Plus Sam's little brother Ted was adorable! He dresses up in his sister's clothes and plays with dolls. I want to see more characters like Ted who break the mold and are accepted for who they are. I also thought the strained relationship between Jess and his mum Gwen was a great plot line. She's really struggling to cope with Jesse's cancer and the two of them have never really been close. Seeing them facing some challenging circumstances really allowed the two characters to develop.

The Girl Next Door is quite a quick read, but the story and the characters really root themselves in your brain. I think you really come away from the story with an appreciation of life and those around you, and it makes you want to seize the moment and look out for yourself. Yes, it's sad, but there are some lovely uplifting scenes to balance it out. The writing was brilliant, and I'd definitely be interested in reading more by this author.

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The Bone Season - Samantha Shannon Full review also posted here on TotalTeenFiction

I've been hearing buzz about The Bone Season for a while, long before it was released. When the author was announced as a guest at Leakycon I was ecstatic, and even happier when they had copies available to buy at the con! The Bone Season tells the story of Paige Mahoney, a clairvoyant living in a world where people with her abilities are deemed "unnatural". Suddenly she is whisked from the criminal underworld of London to the lost city of Oxford, where she must live amongst a her fellow clairvoyants and the race of the Rephaim, and do her best to survive.

This is a pretty intense read. The opening fifty pages bring a wealth of information and terminology to gets to grips with. The book is set in an alternative version of London controlled by Scion - a republic built to quash clairvoyance - and features a whole load of clairvoyants like Paige with different abilities. In the front of the book is a sort of overview of the different types and their categories and I found that really helpful to refer back to. It took me a while to get my head around all these new words and phrases involved with the world. Suddenly there's all these words like aether and dreamscape, and all these districts of London with coded names. But I can understand why it is crammed into such a short space, because after about fifty pages the plot really steps up a gear and it's all action from then on in. I appreciated that set up, even if it was a lot to take in, because it meant you got to the plot quickly.

The book is told from Paige's perspective, and I found her really fascinating as a character. She's had to accept her place in life and thrives on her work in the criminal syndicate. It was interesting to see the moral dilemmas she faces when she does things she doesn't think herself capable of. Her clairvoyant abilities gives her the power to separate her spirit from her body, a power which is feared and admired in equal measure. I loved how much detail has gone into the way her abilities work and that you get to see the fear and danger associated with such power.

I adored the way you get to learn Paige's story through the things happening in the present, and the memories from her past which are included throughout the story. Everything flowed together so well, and it felt like the book was layered up with all these brilliant little pieces of information that all come together to build this incredible world.

The writing in The Bone Season is stunning, and it's honestly one of those novels where you just can't fathom how somebody has dreamt it all up. The attention to detail is incredible, and the world is so rich and wonderful. I loved losing myself in the futuristic city of London (the book is set in 2059 in an alternative universe - the course of history differing from our own) as well as the setting for the majority of the book, Sheol I. The descriptions of the places and spiritual elements were so vivid and visual. I can't wait to see this book on screen one day, because I can see it lending itself to that medium so well.

The characters were some of my absolute highlights of The Bone Season. From the tricksy Jaxon, to the lovable Nick, vulnerable Seb and the intriguing Warden - I loved the range and variety of characters Shannon has conjured up. Seeing Paige's relationships with all these people was what really drew me in to the story. The history between her and Nick was one of my favourite things and I loved discovering more about their past throughout the story. The connection between her and Warden and that growing intensity had me hooked. I was so invested in that relationship. I also loved seeing her interact with other people in her new home of Sheol I, like when she meets Liss and Julian. She comes across as so caring and really looks out for other people.

The Bone Season ticks so many boxes and hits so many spots. It has that perfect blend of fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal and dystopia, with an action-packed plot, yet manages to feel completely unique and stand out from the crowd. The main character, Paige, is nineteen, so whilst it does fall outside of the YA category, it will definitely appeal to YA fans. I think this is the perfect crossover book that will appeal to all ages, much like Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. In fact genre wise, too, if you liked that book then I think you will adore The Bone Season too!

It's not a light read, and it takes a while to get your head around everything. I think you probably have to be in the right frame of mind to read this kind of intense fantasy and I hope people won't be put off by the opening few chapters where everything seems quite daunting. Trust me, the pay off is definitely worth it in the end. I was utterly captivated by the world and hooked to the pages of the story. I didn't want to put it down. I wanted to completely lose myself in that world. The climax was incredible and I can't wait to read to return to Paige's story!

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The Savages - Matt Whyman Brilliant. Love a bit of dark humour! Review to come.
The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith Before The Casual Vacancy released, I definitely had my hopes up for a JKR crime novel as I'm a huge detective fiction fan. I don't know whether this book would ever have popped up on my radar has it not been revealed as Rowling's work (although it is blurbed by Mark Billingham who is one of my all time favourite authors - so that would have caught my attention!) but either way, I've read it now and here are my thoughts.

The Cuckoo's Calling follows Cormoran Strike, a private investigator who is called up to delve a little deeper into the apparent suicide of model Luna Landry.

I'll start with the positives. I loved the plot. It was a fantastic mystery, and had plenty of twists that I did not see coming. And the characters were fantastic. Cormoran was a real highlight. He's a bit hopeless, having recently split from his girlfriend and ending up living out of his office. His military background gave him some great insights and I loved his snarky attidude. All in all he's exactly the kind of lead male character I've come to love and expect in crime fiction. Flawed yet brilliant at what he does. Throw in his new assistant Robin and you have the perfect mystery solving duo.

Where this book went wrong for me was the writing style. It was overcomplicated and clunky. There were so many unnecessary descriptions that it was driving me mad by the time I was halfway through. For example, the door to Cormoran's office is glass, and the bathroom is on the landing, yet 200 pages in and the door is still being described as glass and the bathroom is still being described as on the landing - as if I didn't know these facts and needed reminding.

It's a shame, because as soon as the dialogue starts, it's like a completely different writer has taken over. It's snappy, and each character has a distinctive voice, and the characters don't waffle on too much. I loved the use of accent and dialect too.

I got this book from the library because I bought The Casual Vacancy and really didn't like it. I'm pleased to say this was an improvement, but there's still something about the writing that isn't winning me over. I'd still be keen to carry on with this series as the plot and characters were fantastic. I just hope the writing becomes less frustrating.
Paper Aeroplanes - Dawn O'Porter Full review also posted here on TotalTeenFiction

I have been wanting to read this book for a long time, and the author Leakycon was the kick up the backside I needed! Paper Aeroplanes tells the story of Renée and Flo, classmates who end up drawn into a fast friendship.

I LOVED this book. There are so many things I loved about it but the characters - oh my gosh - they were fantastic. The book is told in first person, alternating between the two girls point of view. Renée and Flo are so recognisable, realistic and genuinely brilliant. The two of them are quite different which I loved. Renée is the rebel, smoking and skiving off school, whereas Flo is the more level-headed, quiet one (I'm totally a Flo not a Renée). They're not friends at the beginning of the book so their friendship is one we get to see grow and develop. I adored how they just sort of gravitated towards each other. They were totally meant to be friends. It was great to see how Flo and Renée's relationships with their other friends play out as well. I absolutely loathed Flo's friend Sally who is an absolute cow (in my book journal where I make notes whilst reading I actually wrote EVIL SALLY in all caps) but it made me root for Flo even more. Plus Renée's friends are just on a different planet to her. I just want to talk about how much I love Renée and Flo and how much I ship them as friends. It's so refreshing to get that invested in a friendship! I need a Renée in my life.

From the beginning it's clear the two girls each have quite a lot going on in their home lives. Renée has lost her mum and is living with her clueless grandparents and a sister who is struggling to cope. Flo on the other hand is dealing with her parents separating and having to look after her little sister, who her mum seems to have abandoned. I just felt so much for both of them and how they battled through their rubbish situations. Seeing them bond over their crappy lives was just so heart-warming, because they needed each other.

I've mentioned how realistic the characters but the whole book is just filled with relatable situations. The book is set during the girls' GCSE year, and all those worries from that time in my life came flooding back to me! There are boy worries, exam worries, body worries - all those things that make you look back on. I got so nostalgic reading this book! What I adored about Paper Aeroplanes is that it doesn't shy away from anything. There's all the grizzly teenage awkwardness that most books gloss over or omit completely. Yes there's sex and swearing and booze but it was so refreshing to read a book that talks about body hair and periods. Because those things, embarrassing as they may be, are things that happen to teenage girls and I was so happy to see that actually addressed for once!

Talking of embarrassing, this book absolutely had me with all the embarrassing situations Renée and Flo end up in. If you've ever looked back on your own teenage years and cringed then reading this book will make you feel 100% better. I would read these scenes and laugh, because I know those feelings and those situations. Even the more serious moments, like Renée thinking she's totally in love with a useless boy, my heart just went out to her because we've all been there! There's this one scene where Renée and Flo are discussing their embarrassing body problems and I just grinned and then wished I'd some one to discuss things like that with. Plus I love that these girls eat chips and crisps and make tits of themselves and do things that real teenage girls do.

And if that wasn't enough nostalgia then the fact the book is set in the nineties brought a few smiles. I was very young when this book was set, but things like reading Smash Hits magazine and playing cassettes and VHS tapes always make me smile. Plus it's so awesome to read a book set in a time before Facebook and mobile phones. The title comes from the paper aeroplanes the two girls use to share notes with each other, and Renée keeps a load of notes of what's been happening in her life. Remember a time before Facebook statuses? I miss that time!

The book is set in Guernsey (somewhere I'd love to visit!) and I loved the setting and how it provided that close-knit way of life. As a Brit, the pop culture references were all comfortingly familiar, like the mentions of Wotsits and Sunny Delight (ugh I remember when that stuff was big in the 90s and I thought it was vile!) and Blur coming on in the car.

I loved all the attention to detail and how even the smaller characters had big roles to play. I was really drawn to the storyline with Renée's sister Nell, and Flo's relationship with her mother and brother was just as gripping. Even evil Sally had my jaw dropping with some of the moments she has.

Whilst the novel had amazing characters and was very character driven, the plot always had my attention. There was so much drama and plenty of moments that I just did not see coming. Flo and Renée's friendship didn't always run smoothly and so I was sitting there flying through the pages to see what would happen and whether things would work out. I was hooked to the drama happening in each of their families. There were moments that tugged at the heartstrings and shook me up, as well as those that made me giggle. It was just a book I could completely lose myself in. I honestly want to recommend this book to everyone. It's such a clever, witty, brilliantly executed novel that I want you all to go and buy it right now. It will make you relive your teenage years (or comfort you if you're still going through them!) and draw you in to the lives of two incredible characters.

I'm looking back on this review and I'm sure there are things that I've missed. For a three hundred page book it left me with so much to talk about. I can't wait to re-read it, which I'm sure I will do again and again. Plus there's going to be a sequel! I'm so freaking overjoyed about that. I can't wait to spend more time with the girls.

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Department 19 - Will Hill Really enjoyed this! Great world, exciting and looking forward to the next book :) review to come!