“Sequels are really hard to pull off but this one definitely delivers!”

Film poster from

Guardians of the Galaxy (see my review here) was one of those films I went to see without any real expectations and came out going “wow, awesome!”  So when I heard there was a sequel, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, I knew I’d be first in line to see it.  I have to admit I was afraid I’d be disappointed, but there was no need to worry – to be honest I would have paid just to see the opening sequence which features Baby Groot (a talking tree sapling who stole the show in the previous film).  It was brilliantly done and very funny!

So the Guardians of the Galaxy are a motley crew consisting of Peter Quill (aka Star-Lord), Gamora, who is a green alien woman, Rocket, a talking raccoon with serious attitude, Drax a sort of beefcake alien with some weird ideas, and last but not least, Baby Groot.  As superheroes go, they’re pretty unlikely, but they are a fearless bunch and somehow they get jobs done that no one else wants to take on.  And their first adventure forged close friendships that cement them together.

In the first film we found out that Peter had a human mother who died of a brain tumour when he was ten, while his father was apparently some kind of alien being.  He had no idea who his father was and after his mother’s death he was taken to space and raised by a group of ruffians/thieves lead by a (blue) man called Yondu.  In this film his real dad shows up and turns out to be a god or “celestial being”.  I won’t do any spoilers, but suffice it to say that the dad isn’t quite the way Peter had imagined he’d be!  And the father has a hidden agenda so the Guardians get into more than a spot of bother.

The whole adventure is totally far-fetched and crazy, but fast-paced and huge fun, with several sub-plots that keep you riveted to the screen.  The dialogue is sassy and, at times, hilarious (if also slightly puerile on occasion!) and you can’t help but root for these guys.  There’s even a bit of romance thrown in, which of course pleased me no end.

This film is part of the Marvel series that will culminate with two more Avengers movies (Avengers: Infinity War next year plus an as yet untitled sequel), where all the superheroes, including some of the Guardians, get together to fight a common enemy.  There are therefore hints here of things to come and allusions to other Marvel films, but for now this one had a wonderful feel-good ending with a couple of fab extra scenes at the end as a bonus.

What can I say?  I loved it and anyone who is into the whole Marvel universe will too for sure.  But even if you never see anything other than the two Guardians of the Galaxy films, I’m convinced you can’t fail to be entertained!

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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Book Blitz: Empty Threat

Enchanted books – what’s not to like???

Empty Threat
Danny Bell
(The Black Pages, #1)
Publication date: May 2nd 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

Book one of The Black Pages

Elana Black has the power to make herself fictional. But when she decides to start saving all the people in books and TV shows who die just for the sake of advancing the plot, she quickly learns that she’s not the only one with her powers.

All Elana wants to do is save people. But these others don’t want the stories to change, and they’ll do everything they can to stop her.

If you had the power to change fate… to create a happy ending where there wasn’t one before… would you do it if it meant risking your own?

Goodreads / Amazon


My fears, by comparison, had always been irrational. The fear that someone will think my nose is weird. The fear that I’d hid in the bathroom too long or too many times and everyone at the party will notice. The fear that even my closest friends would one day leave or decide I wasn’t cool enough anymore. The fear that a group of strangers won’t like me, but then will only pretend to be nice to me, and I’ll never know it. They’d say something awful behind my back, and one of them would tell a lie about me, which would make someone else believe that lie, so they’d repeat it. Then two people would tell the same story, and the third and fourth people would also repeat it and then it would become something different, and soon entire groups of people I’d never met would be poisoned against me before we ever even had the chance to meet, before anyone knew I wasn’t some huge jerk, and—

My heart was pounding just thinking about that scenario. My breaths were hard and shallow, my fingers hurt from where I’d been clutching the steering wheel. At least I’d stopped crying.

My point is, that for as terrifying as my fears were to me, I’d always found a way to get past them and function. Even when I was so afraid that I almost couldn’t move, I could fake bravado. In a bit of irony, the fear of being seen as afraid made me move on as if I wasn’t. To do otherwise would mean to just stop, and I’ve lived that life before. Sometimes days, sometimes weeks, sometimes months at a time… and you don’t get that time back. So ultimately, you were afraid for nothing. If I could impart a piece of advice onto the world, it is that more than the crowds, more than fake smiles and unheard whispers, even more than our own base, loathsome selves, what we should really fear is stasis. Life will always move forward, whether we move forward or not. Even stumbling and flailing about, unable to find your balance and rolling down a hill head over heels is still moving forward. It might not be graceful, but at least you’re not stuck with whatever you were trying to move past.


Author Bio:

My name is Danny Bell. I want to tell stories and avoid writing author profiles. I read—when I should be interacting with people, I named my cat after a cat I liked in a book, I’m pretty sure I saw a ghost one time—though I’ll never admit it publicly, I’m too tall for the earth, and I’ve never eaten a vegetable. I lied about the vegetable part. Wait… is someone going to read this?


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REVIEW Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

“a book you’ll reluctantly put down when it’s way past time to put the lights out”

Libby Strout is starting high school. She knows she’s going to be the centre of attention for all the wrong reasons. She’ll be the fattest kid in the school. And how long’s it going to be before people realise she was once the fattest kid in America, the girl who had to be lifted out of her home by crane once part of the wall had been demolished. Libby’s been hiding for years. And now she’s ready to live a normal life. But is the rest of the world ready to welcome her?

Jack Masselin is one of the cool kids. But his swagger is hiding a secret. He’s suffering from a rare brain condition which means that he can’t remember people’s faces. Every time he sees someone, it’s like seeing them for the first time, even close family members, even his best friends and his girlfriend. When he wakes in the morning and looks in the mirror, even his own face is new to him.

In Holding Up the Universe, Jennifer Niven gives us the love story of Libby and Jack. These are two people who have more than enough to contend with just being themselves, but who come to find strength and support in each other. The romance is poignant and charming, the moments of setback and forward movement perfectly balanced to drive the story forward.

Libby is a wonderful character, very human. The story of how she gained weight and lost it, how she hid from the world and why she’s ready to step out into it again is honest and sympathetic and understandable. I love her guts and her willingness to tell it like it is. I loved those moments when she threw herself into things with passion – her dancing, driving along the highway, swimming. Her attraction to Jack and her lack of confidence about it rang blisteringly true.

I was fascinated by Jack’s condition, but found myself doubting it often. How would it be possible for someone to live with a problem like this for so many years without someone suspecting there was something wrong with them? It simply doesn’t make sense to me. However, putting this to one side, Jack is a great character, swaggering self-confidence hiding self-doubt.

Holding Up the Universe is a book you’ll reluctantly put down when it’s way past time to put the lights out, a book to tear through, rooting for the characters, wiping away the occasional tear. Don’t scrutinize it too much. You’ll love it.

Claire Watts

More to Read!

After reading Holding Up the Universe, I was on the lookout for books that had fat leading characters but which didn’t treat fatness as an ‘issue’. Check out this great post for a list of ‘body-postive’ YA reads.

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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Discord and Dissent – a special offer

Happy pub day to Piranha Katy Haye! Dissent is published today.

Dissent is second in the Echoes of Earth series.

About the book:

Dissent cover on cover overlay

My name is Hiran. I live in a zoo.

Hiran lives in the Colony, a zoo where human teens are kept on display by the casians, a species of scaly, green creatures who’ve put themselves in charge. The Colony is on earth, but an earth long devoid of any natural human population. That’s why Hiran is a slave, why every human is a slave—because casian scientists brought them back from extinction to play music, entertain alien tourists, and to breed.

But the zoo isn’t the only trap Hiran’s in. He’s in love with Roisin, but she doesn’t love him. Their romance is a façade designed to keep the casians from wiping their memories and sending them back to Steptoe House for rehabilitation. At least at the Colony, they know the truth of their hopeless existence.

Still, when Hiran’s ex-girlfriend, Beth, arrives unexpectedly back at the Colony, it reminds him of everything he’s lost. And as the casian regime becomes more brutal every day, Hiran rebels the only way he can, sowing dissent between the humans and their keepers. But rebellions have failed before, with fatal consequences. Hiran doesn’t want to die, but does he have anything left to lose?

DD promo colour file

To celebrate Dissent’s launch, Discord is on a FREE promotion. This means you can get BOTH books for just .99! Grab them today – available via Amazon and with Kindle Unlimited. Don’t have a kindle? You can download the free app to your phone/tablet/computer.

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Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine


piranha stars turquoise 3

About the book:

With an iron fist, The Great Library controls the knowledge of the world, ruthlessly stamping out all rebellion, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but serving in its army is nothing like he envisioned. His life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered forever. His best friend is lost, and Morgan, the girl he loves, is locked away in the Iron Tower and doomed to a life apart.

Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies make one wrong move and suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria, all the way to London.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe anymore. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon, Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or the Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control…

Cover of Rachel Caine's Paper and Fire

Review by Katy Haye:

Well, I utterly consumed Ink and Bone (first in the series). I enjoyed returning to Jess and the world of the Great Library. And yet … it didn’t captivate me in quite the same way second time around. I didn’t feel as bought-in to Jess’s dilemmas this time around. I think it might be that the library has become a bit of a bwa-ha-ha villain. An organisation is made up of people, and I couldn’t quite believe that all those helping the library to repress progress would either do so unthinkingly, or had agendas that chimed with the chief librarian’s. There were chinks in the armour and people who thought differently, but I think for me it simply felt too black and white.

It was still enjoyable and easy enough to read. Maybe it’s just that my expectations were set so high in Ink and Bone that it was never going to deliver!

If you haven’t already, read Ink and Bone and then move on to Paper and Fire if you feel like it.

Katy Haye is reading (and reviewing) her way through the alphabet. When not reading, Katy writes speculative YA fiction. Discord “The Matrix meets Planet of the Apes” is currently available.

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Review: WHAT’S A GIRL GOTTA DO by Holly Bourne

Occasionally flawed, but overall an engrossing page-turner

piranha stars blue 4

What's a girl‘What’s A Girl Gotta Do?’ is a very enjoyable read, as you would expect from Holly Bourne. It works on two levels, both as a story of teenage friendship, preoccupation and romance; and on a deeper level as an exploration of sexism and possible responses to it.

On the down side, I struggled with the beginning.  I almost didn’t read on past the first 2 chapters as it seemed formulaic and overdone. There was too much emotion without sufficient reason, and I couldn’t relate to the character. Possibly if I’d read the first 2 in the trilogy this wouldn’t have been such a problem. But … once I did read on I loved it. I began to engage with the characters. Ok, maybe Lottie is a bit over-the-top, but her intentions are good and you progress with your heart in your mouth, hoping that it will work out for her and admiring her bravery and really not wanting her to do anything silly.

I wasn’t quite sure about the whole obsession with Cambridge. This struck me as, yet again, the obsession of an exceptionally bright student, and hardly of interest to most of us. And there are (a lot of) times when we get a stream-of-consciousness of Lottie’s thought which go on far too long and are often rambling and repetitive. Teenagers may well think like this but do we have to read it verbatim?

So why am I giving this book 4 piranhas when there are so many things about it that irritated me? Because there are also so many things I loved! a) the theme of a feminist club and girls who are trying to change the world, that I am totally behind; b) Lottie is a great kick-ass character and c) Will is an excellent hero, attractive, annoying and definitely not dominant. And overall this is a worldview I can completely agree with, both Lottie’s desire to do good, and how much easier it is to do this ‘for others’ than when she herself feels attacked.

Review by Gill-Marie Stewart

Gill-Marie writes YA mystery/romances as Gill-Marie Stewart. As Gilly Stewart she also writes women’s contemporary fiction. The first book in her YA series about George and Finn is Music and Lies (try the first chapter here).

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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.

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