Review: The Other Inheritance by Rebecca Jaycox

Great premise … but oddly passionless.

About the book:

One girl. Two worlds. Hunted in both.

Seventeen-year-old Reggie Lang is used to dealing with her alcoholic mother and fighting school bullies, but fate has thrown her a curve ball.

A biker dude shows up in her dreams, babbling about magic and a world called the Other. As the incidents keep piling up—like bringing a frog back to life in class—Reggie has to confront the mounting evidence that she’s not the normal girl she craves to be.

Reggie’s life is changing, and she has no idea why. Or whether she should believe the man in her dreams, who claims she’s in danger and that only he can keep her safe. But if there’s one thing Reggie will learn, nowhere is safe.

Cover of Rebecca Jaycox/s The Other Inheritance

Click for the preview to check it out.

Review by Katy Haye:

Blah, well, I wanted to like this more than it turned out I did. The fantasy world was great, as was the magical premise. It should have hit the spot … it just didn’t.

The problem, I think, was that I didn’t fully engage with any of the characters. John was a peach – what a best friend: “You’re going somewhere dangerous and potentially deadly? Then I’m coming with you!” But there wasn’t enough of him.

The plot was a bit meandering. I wanted more drama, more urgency, more peril but I didn’t really feel like there were any great risks or stakes.

And (and feel free to call me a prude if you wish), there was sex, which was written okay, not graphic or anything, but it just felt like it was treated a bit casually, which really isn’t okay. Again, I think it’s because I wasn’t invested in the characters so I couldn’t buy their decision to have sex just because.

I’m really sorry, but my “O” book was a big old disappointment.

Katy Haye is reading (and reviewing) her way through the alphabet. Check the Paisley Piranha blog next week to see what she makes of her “P” book: Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine. When not reading, Katy writes speculative fiction for young adult readers. Her latest novel, Discord, is currently available.

Posted in families, fantasy, fiction, friendship, magic, paranormal, review, Romance, teen, YA, Young Adult | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Adorkable by Cookie O’Gorman

About the book:

Adorkable (ah-dor-kuh-bul): Descriptive term meaning to be equal parts dorky and adorable. For reference, see Sally Spitz.

Seventeen-year-old Sally Spitz is done with dating. Or at least, she’s done with the horrible blind dates/hookups/sneak attacks her matchmaking bestie, Hooker, sets her up on. There’s only so much one geek girl and Gryffindor supporter can take.

Her solution: she needs a fake boyfriend. And fast.

Enter Becks, soccer phenom, all-around-hottie, and Sally’s best friend practically since birth. When Sally asks Becks to be her F.B.F. (fake boyfriend), Becks is only too happy to be used. He’d do anything for Sal–even if that means giving her PDA lessons in his bedroom, saying she’s “more than pretty,” and expertly kissing her at parties.

The problem: Sally’s been in love with Becks all her life–and he’s completely clueless.

Cover of Cookie O'Gorman's Adorkable

Click for the preview

Review by Katy Haye:

I almost never read contemporary fiction, preferring the madness of fantasy and sci fi. However, after being up to my eyes in edits for my own speculative latest, I needed something completely different. Adorkable was a real breath of fresh air.

It’s fairly standard YA fare: best friends pretend to be boyfriend/girlfriend and let out a massive can of emotional worms. Cue many misunderstandings, double-edged conversations and hiding in corners/cupboards.

But there’s nothing standard about the writing, it was an absolute delight. I completely shipped Sally and Becks and the families were lovely. And it was really emotional. I could see what was going to happen, but watching it unfold was a satisfying delight.

The only part I found hard to suspend disbelief was that Sally’s mother and her BFF, otherwise sane and sensible modern women, were OBSESSED with her having a boyfriend. Really, it’s the 21st century and she has exams to pass. There’s SOO much more to life than boys.

But given that that was the trope of the novel, I did suspend disbelief and I absolutely adored Adorkable.

When not reading, Katy Haye writes speculative fiction. Her latest, Discord, is currently available.

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Review: New Kid in Town by Jacky Gray

About the book:

Liv, Jude and Kat are greater than the sum of their parts. Separately they are Brainy, Sporty and Arty. Together they are invincible. Until Drop-Dead-Gorgeous Ray wheels up.

The intravenous chocolate, hatred of sports and loss of her partner-in-crime have taken their toll on Liv, leaving her flabby, unfit and best-friendless. Add in a wicked tongue, lack of boyfriend, and a mortal enemy determined to destroy her, and you’re pretty much up-to-speed.

Liv’s life isn’t a complete pity party: Jude, sporting superstar, and Irish songbird, Kat, have her back. And her front, when it’s not bursting out of a blouse two sizes too small. As they prepare for the school show and looming exams, Ray explodes on the scene, taking no prisoners.

Every girl wants a piece of the new boy in town, but wheelchair-bound Ray chooses Liv’s group with devastating results. He trades insults with Liv, lusts after Jude in her ice skating dress, and upstages Kat when he hams up Shakespeare in their English class. As his presence threatens the life-long friendship, Liv becomes convinced he hides a dark secret.

Cover of Jacky Gray's New Kid in Town

Click for the preview

Review by Katy Haye:

Oh, this gave me all the feels! New Kid in Town gave such a convincing depiction of mercurial teenage relationships and that dreadful sense of hope and fear combined around transforming friendships into relationships when you don’t quite dare take the plunge in case your feelings aren’t reciprocated.

The characters were treasures, both individually and I loved their bantering relationships. This was an awful lot like being a teenager again!

Katy Haye is reading (and reviewing) her way through the alphabet. Check the Paisley Piranha blog next week to see what she made of her “O” book. When not reading, Katy writes speculative fiction for young adult readers. Her latest novel, Discord, is currently available.

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HUSHED by Joanne Macgregor

“A great story and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good fairy tale with a modern twist!”

I really enjoyed Joanne Macgregor’s first novel, Scarred (see my review here) so when I saw that she had a new book out, Hushed, I rushed to buy it.

As I may have mentioned, I’m a sucker for novels based on old fairy tales, and Hushed is a wonderful modern retelling of H C Anderson’s tale of The Little Mermaid. I have to admit I’ve never been keen on Mr Anderson’s mostly sad stories, much preferring the Brothers Grimm, but Ms Macgregor managed to use all the best parts, with much of the original details included, and in very fresh, inventive modern ways.  She has created a much happier tale, so I was thrilled.  The action also takes place in South Africa, not a setting I’ve encountered much before, so that was unusual and fascinating!

The blurb:-

Would you sacrifice your voice for love?

18-year old Romy Morgan desperately longs to escape the boring future her parents have planned for her, and explore the world.  When she saves her celebrity crush, superstar Logan Rush, from drowning, Romy is offered a job as his personal assistant. She strikes a deal to reinvent herself in exchange for entering the exciting world of the movies, and love sparks between her and this prince of Hollywood.  But Romy soon discovers that she’s traded her voice and identity for an illusion of freedom.  When she discovers a dreadful secret with the power to destroy Logan, she must choose between love, revenge and finding her own true element.

This story manages to combine all the emotion of falling in love for the first time and deciding on your future, while also dealing with some serious environmental issues. The heroine Romy has to figure out what she wants to do with her life and what it is that really matters – standing up for what you believe in or taking the easy option.  She’s the youngest of five sisters, and in her final year in high school (or the South African equivalent), and her parents have only two choices for her – to follow in her father’s footsteps and join his business, or follow her mother into the world of academia, researching marine biology. But Romy has her own dreams and doesn’t want either option.  So what to do?

She’s had a major crush on movie star Logan Rush for years, so when she gets a chance to see him up close, she jumps at it. However, in real life, he turns out to be very different from his on-screen persona and not quite the way she’d imagined.  But still very hot …

There is a feisty, fun grandmother figure in the story, who I really liked.  She had a chequered past on the stage and was a bit naughty, encouraging Romy to rebel and be independent, and to live a little, taking chances rather than staying on the safest course in life.  She sort of reminded me of my own grandmother, who occasionally came out with some very surprising advice for me!

I also loved the laid-back hero, Logan, an American actor with a delicious southern drawl, but he’s not just a handsome hunk, he has his own secrets and dreams. Only someone is preventing him from achieving his goals and he has to stand up to them or stay trapped forever in his gilded cage. The interaction between him and Romy is superb throughout, and the chemistry unmistakeable. He may not be a prince, but I certainly fell in love with him!

Towards the end of the story, the heroine gets involved in environmental issues and has some hair-raising moments fighting for a good cause.  I felt these were perhaps a little too detailed, but then I’m a big softie and don’t like to hear about sad things and I know it’s necessary for people to learn about it so that we can stop things like whaling.

A great story and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good fairy tale with a modern twist!

Pia Fenton writes contemporary romantic YA stories and her Northbrooke High series features UK heroines clashing with US heroes in an American high school setting.  The fourth one in the series – New England Dreams is out now!

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Review: The Midnight Society by Rhonda Sermon

“Gorgeous!”

About the book:

Cate was always different. Five years of witness protection has made her an outcast. When the world and everyone except her seem to freeze at the bus stop one day, she feels more alone than ever.

As she tries to understand what’s happening, a group of teens appear out of thin air, lift the bus over their heads, and disarm a bomb placed underneath it. They seem surprised she can see them as they disappear once again.

After the mystery teens show up at her school the next day, Cate is drawn into a world of time travel and magic she never thought possible. It turns out she has powers of her own, but only she can decide whether she uses them for the forces of good or world-altering evil…

with sorcery and time travel. After she accidentally brings a cheerleader back from the dead, her incredible powers are revealed. Cate is shocked to discover she has a pivotal role to play in a centuries-old battle between two mortal enemies which threatens to destroy her entire world.

With the distinction between good and evil blurred, she’s faced with the excruciating choice of which side to join. Cate can save her family or protect thousands of people from death. She can’t do both. Will she risk destroying innocent lives to save the ones she loves?

Cover of Rhonda Sermon's The Midnight Society

Click to start reading

Review by Katy Haye:

The Midnight Society has been on my radar for ages, at least a year. In all that time, why did no one grab me by the scruff of my neck and tell me to read it? It’s gorgeous: fun and sassy and twisty and a real sparkling gem. The world’s fabulous, the characters are delectable and the writing (especially the dialogue) is a complete joy to read. I flew through the pages and didn’t want it to end.

And also, for an ebook it’s really beautiful. I always think of ebooks as functional while you need an ink and paper book if you want pretty/tactile/fragrant. But this is beautifully formatted, with gorgeous little extras that made it a step above others I’ve seen.

I loved it. Let me save you some time: go read it. Right now.

Katy Haye is reading (and reviewing) her way through the alphabet. Check the Paisley Piranha blog next week to see what she made of her “N” book. When not reading, Katy writes speculative fiction for young adult readers. Her latest novel, Discord, is currently available.

 

Posted in families, fantasy, fiction, friendship, magic, paranormal, review, teen, YA, Young Adult | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson

“an indulgence to curl up with on a rainy day”

After the death of her beloved wild-child aunt, Ginny receives a package. Inside is a bundle of blue envelopes, numbered one to thirteen. The letters – each to be read only after the instructions in the previous one have been carried out – send Ginny off on an adventure that will carry her to the places Aunt Peg loved: London, Paris, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Copenhagen and Greece. Ginny is to take no maps or guidebooks; money is taken care of ; she’s to rely on the people onto whose doorsteps her aunt’s instructions drop her. It’s a strange and thrilling and confusing trip. What is her aunt trying to tell Ginny? Is it something about Aunt Peg or about Ginny herself?

This book is an indulgence to curl up with on a rainy day or if you’re struck by lurgy. It’s utterly charming in the manner of a good romcom. (And, in case you’re wondering, there is both rom and com in 13 Little Blue Envelopes.) The characters, even those who have only a few moments on stage, are sharply drawn and believable, particularly Ginny herself, not brave and bold, not the kind of person who chooses to set off alone to another continent with a backpack, feeling that the only interesting things she has ever done are when she was with her aunt, gradually finding her own strength and purpose. I love the authenticity of Ginny’s travels: the loneliness even when surrounded by other people, the chance meetings with kindred spirits, the dread of looking like a tourist, the feeling that foreign money isn’t really real – that’s exactly what going travelling is like in my experience. I could forgive the book its rather trite and too neat ending because Ginny’s adventure itself  was far from neat, but rather had setbacks and mishaps that Aunt Peg’s plans hadn’t taken into account.

13 Little Blue Envelopes isn’t going to change your life but it’ll make you smile.

Claire Watts


More to Read!

Looking for more books that feature travelling? There’s John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, but I’m guessing you’ve already read that. What about Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss? And I’ve written one too – How Do You Say Gooseberry in French? is about an English girl spending the summer with a French family.


Claire Watts writes and edits fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults. Her latest YA novel is Gingerbread & Cupcake


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Review: Lydia, the Wild Girl of Pride & Prejudice

About the book:

A spirited, witty and fresh reimagining of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice! Lydia is the youngest Bennet sister and she’s sick of country life – instead of sewing and reading, she longs for adventure. When a red-coated garrison arrives in Merryton, Lydia’s life turns upside down. As she falls for dashing Wickham, she’s swept into a whirlwind social circle and deposited in a seaside town, Brighton. Sea-bathing, promenades and scandal await – and a pair of intriguing twins. Can Lydia find out what she really wants – and can she get it?

Cover of Natasha Farrant's Lydia

Click for the preview

Review by Katy Haye:

I am a HUGE fan of Pride & Prejudice. I’ve read it numerous times and can quote the famous lines if you give me half an excuse. So, for fans like me, adding a new book to that universe is a bold step and not something to be attempted by the faint of heart.

I’m not dreadfully precious, I will point that out. I don’t hold Pride & Prejudice to be entirely sacrosanct and untouchable. I loved the TV adaptation of PD James’ Death Comes to Pemberley (but I didn’t love it enough to seek out the book; I think a large part of the attraction was Matthew Rhys, to be entirely honest). I also read and loved Longbourn – the P&P story told from the point of view of the servants “below stairs”. I didn’t much like the movie Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (just a bit too silly), although it was entertaining enough.

Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride and Prejudice is a respectable addition to the Pride & Prejudice universe. It was a pleasure to read. I zipped through it in a day. It’s lacking the witty glory of Austen’s prose (but quite right, too – anyone attempting to ape that is asking for trouble), but it was a competent, well-written story. I enjoyed visiting Regency Brighton, and the resolution of the love story (if that’s what it is) was unexpected and satisfying.

But I didn’t love it enough to grab people by the hand and demand they read it. I think, overall, I the strongest feeling in my mind is what a shame you have to piggyback onto something famous in order to get people to read your book. I understand the pleasure of the familiar, but finding a new treasure is equally fabulous … isn’t it?

If you can’t get enough of Pride & Prejudice, give it a try. You might very well like it. I’m going to go and check out what else Natasha Farrant has written.

Lydia: The Wild Girl of Pride & Prejudice was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Novel of the Year (it lost out to Love Song by Sophia Bennett – read our review). Find out more about the award and other shortlisted books on their website.

Katy Haye writes speculative fiction for young adult readers. Her latest novel, Discord, is currently available.

Posted in Classic literature, families, fiction, historical, review, teen, YA, Young Adult | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment