YA review: Center Ice by Cate Cameron

Title: Center Ice
Author: Cate Cameron
Series: Corrigan Falls Raiders #1
Acquired: Review
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Entangled Crush
Release date: 19th May 2015

Karen Webber is in small-town hell. After her mother’s death, she moved to Corrigan Falls to live with strangers—her dad and his perfect, shiny new family—and there doesn’t seem to be room for a city girl with a chip on her shoulder. The only person who makes her feel like a real human being is Tyler MacDonald.

But Karen isn’t interested in starting something with a player. And that’s all she keeps hearing about Tyler.

Corrigan Falls is a hockey town, and Tyler’s the star player. But the viselike pressure from his father and his agent are sending him dangerously close to the edge. All people see is hockey—except Karen. Now they’ve managed to find something in each other that they both desperately need. And for the first time, Tyler is playing for keeps…

I have been searching for young adult books for a long time set in Canada or more specifically, Toronto. While this one isn’t set in Toronto (although it is mentioned) I was so happy to find this one. 

Protagonist Karen Webber is forced to move to a small town from her home in Toronto after her mother’s death. She has to live with her father who she barely knows and his ‘real’ family who he seems to care about more than he does her. I had to feel sorry for Karen because of her situation. She obviously doesn’t get on with her father or his family, especially her step-sister who seems hell bent on making things as difficult as possible. I can’t imagine being put in this situation and having to deal with what Karen did. 

Things to get a bit better for her though when she meets Tyler, a local hockey player heading for the NHL. Karen feels like she finally has someone she can talk to but she quickly learns of his reputation which puts her off. Karen and Tyler take their time getting to know one another and I really liked that. Each character has a lot going on in their lives and when they’re together they can escape everything else that is happening around them. 

The romance between Karen and Tyler was a bit too rushed for me. The book is quite short at only 196 pages and Cameron tries to pack in too much in only a short space of time. I don’t feel like there was enough time to really have strong enough feelings for one another especially in the way that was described. It was also a bit too predictable for me as well. 

It was refreshing to see ice hockey feature in a book because normally it’s football. I guess ice hockey is a very Canadian thing though so it did fit really well in this book. However, there just wasn’t enough of it for me. Karen had no idea when it came to hockey which I found a bit surprising to be honest. The whole hockey aspect was taken over by Tyler’s overbearing father and his need to control Tyler’s career. I found that all a bit too much. 

Overall, this was really just okay but I think it could have been great if the book had been longer to make things more realistic. 

YA review: Made for You by Melissa Marr

Title: Made for You
Author: Melissa Marr
Series: N/A
Acquired: Review
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release date: 26th March 2015

When Eva Tilling wakes up in the hospital, she’s confused—who in her sleepy little North Carolina town could have hit her with their car? And why? But before she can consider the question, she finds that she’s awoken with a strange new skill: the ability to foresee people’s deaths when they touch her. While she is recovering from the hit-and-run, Nate, an old flame, reappears, and the two must traverse their rocky past as they figure out how to use Eva’s power to keep her friends—and themselves—alive. But while Eva and Nate grow closer, the killer grows increasingly frantic in his attempt to get to Eva.

Let me start by saying that this book is very different from anything I have ever read before. I didn’t know anything about it at all when I requested it on NetGalley but it sounded so interesting… and it was.

Protagonist Eva has grown up with a pretty normal life for the town she lives in. But, one night when walking home after being stood up by her boyfriend Robert she is hit by a car and left there. She wakes up in a hospital not knowing what is going on but something has changed, she’s changed. Since the accident when someone touches her she is able to see their future, see how they are going to die. Eva thinks she’s going crazy but when other things happen in town, she knows the only way to stop them is to listen to what’s going on in her head. 

Melissa Marr writes one hell of a thriller. Made for You has a really exciting start with Eva being run over and left for dead. You don’t know who did it to her, you don’t know why, you don’t actually know anything. Just after the accident, Eva reconnects with old friend Nate who isn’t part of the same crowd as her. He’s a bit of an outcast so they have to keep their new friendship a secret. She trusts him with her new secret though and together they try to piece together her visions in order to save her friends. 

Made for You is told from both Eva and the murderer’s points of view which is partly what made it so good. I truly enjoyed reading from both characters because not only were they so different but it helped to understand what was going on in the story. The murderer is absolutely insane. There is no better way to describe them or what they’re doing and why. Some of the chapters told by the murderer were actually quite hard to read because they were so messed up. Not at one point could I feel anything but hatred and disgust for the murderer. 

On the other hand, Eva was a wonderful character. Obviously she goes through a lot at the beginning of the book but it doesn’t get much better for her as the story goes on. She takes on the situation with a very level head which would be a really hard thing to do, considering she was left for dead and is having weird visions when people touch her. Even though she tries to give reasons for what is happening, she never rules out anything before she actually knows. 

The plot has a bit of something for everyone. While Made for You is a thriller/ mystery there is also a lovely romance. Melissa Marr’s writing is addictive in this fast paced and exciting novel and I couldn’t put it down. 

YA review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Title: Finding Audrey
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Series: N/A
Acquired: Review
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Doubleday Children’s
Release date: 4th June 2015

Audrey doesn’t leave the house. Not since that day. She only goes out to see her therapist who urges her to take risks and face her fears. That’s easier said than done though and Audrey struggles to take off her dark glasses, deal with her anxiety disorder and talk to her brothers best friend who thinks she may just like!

Although Sophie Kinsella is a very well-known name in the book world, this is the first of her novels that I’ve read and I had no idea what to expect. 

Protagonist Audrey has a anxiety disorder which prevents her from leaving the house apart from to see a therapist. She doesn’t go to school and she stays at home with her crazy family instead wearing dark glasses all of the time. Considering everything that Audrey has going on, I would have thought that she would be more down than she was. It was so good to see Audrey’s personality right from the beginning. She’s a pretty quirky girl and she’s funny as well. 

Characters who feature heavily in this book are Audrey’s family; her mum, dad, older and younger brothers. I loved the family just as much as I loved Audrey. They’re a pretty dysfunctional bunch and are all really different. Audrey’s mum is obsessed with The Daily Mail and any article that’s published, her older brother is addicted to games and her little brother is a bit mental while her dad just wants to stay out of it all. 

Finding Audrey is a really funny novel and it had me chuckling throughout. I think a lot of this comes from the family and what they get up to more than anything else. Not only is this book funny but it’s so heartfelt and real at the same time. I cheered Audrey on the whole time and was routing for her to battle what she was going through and do something amazing for herself. 

Now that I have read a Sophie Kinsella novel I would happily give her adult work a go. I love a book that can make me laugh out loud and this one certainly did that. It was also quite different from other YA novels and even better that it is set in the UK. 

YA review: Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry

Title: Nowhere But Here
Author: Katie McGarry
Series: Thunder Road #1
Acquired: Review
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Release date: 26th May 2015

Seventeen year old Emily loves her life with great parents, good friends and living in a safe neighbourhood. But, she has a biological dad who she’s curious about, even if she doesn’t want to admit it. Instead of being her dad he chose life as a member of Reign of Terror, a motorcycle club.

An unexpected visit turns into a stay Emily never thought she would do and nothing is what she thought it was; not her dad, not the club and certainly not Oz, the guy she seems to be stuck with. 

Katie McGarry is one of my go to authors. I have loved every single book in her Pushing the Limits series so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her new series. 

Protagonist Emily comes from a pretty conservative family but she knows that her biological father is a member of a motorcycle club. She’s intrigued and curious about him but doesn’t want to admit that in case she hurts her mother and father. Honestly, Emily came across as a bit bland to begin with. She has a normal life, normal friends and a normal family if you don’t count her absent biological dad. That was the most intriguing thing about her to begin with and I wanted her to have a bit more to her than that. 

Luckily, Emily really comes into her own over the course of this book. Unexpected circumstances force her to spend time with Eli, her biological dad and the club he belongs to. She soon proves that she is someone not to be messed with and she is actually quite feisty… not what I was expecting at all. As the story panned out I found myself liking Emily more and more for proving me wrong. 

The Thunder Road series is very different from Pushing the Limits for many reasons, not that it’s a bad thing. In fact, it’s a really good thing. Honestly, some of the subject matter in the Pushing the Limits novels is quite depressing and there are many broken families. What I loved about this book was the sense of family and community within Reign of Terror. Emily doesn’t really understand what she’s told about the club and how they are with one another but Katie McGarry really shows this throughout the whole book. 

Oz was a part of that family and the one made to look after Emily while she was in town. I loved Oz from the beginning. He had that smoking hot bad boy thing going for him but through his narrative, you could also see there was a hell of a lot more to him than that. I think a lot of that came from being so close to the club and knowing what it meant to be a part of it all. When it came to Emily, he knew things he shouldn’t about her but was also torn because of everything else he thought he knew about her. Oz was a pretty perfect main male character for me as he had everything I could possibly want. 

In regards to the plot, Nowhere But Here has a hell of a lot going on. Not only do we have to learn of Emily’s real story, the truth about her dad and a million other things but there is some serious drama and heartbreak in these pages. I was not expecting to feel so much while reading this one and I just could not put it down. McGarry’s writing is utterly addictive and I cannot get enough of her books. This one is absolutely fantastic!

YA review: Breaking the Rules by Katie McGarry

Title: Breaking the Rules
Author: Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing the Limits #1.5
Acquired: Bought
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Release date: 1st January 2015

Noah and Echo are having an epic summer road trip before Echo heads off to college. She needs time away from home and she needs to spend time with the one guy who will never judge her. But, the road trip turns into something else entirely and instead of bringing the couple together, it threatens to push them apart. 

Echo and Noah have been one of my favourite couples in a young adult series in such a long time so going into this book was a bit nerve racking!

Echo and Noah are on the road trip of a lifetime and they are enjoying some much needed time away from everything back home and concentrating on each other. Katie McGarry writes some really wonderful and beautiful scenes which really capture how Echo and Noah feel about each other. They are breathtaking together and are put into some pretty amazing situations during the beginning of the book. 

However, their summer is running out and this brings up questions about the couple’s future and where they are heading. Each character has some pretty major insecurities because of their pasts and they both have problems talking to each other about what’s going on in their heads. While Echo and Noah are a pretty solid couple at times, their lack of trust in one another annoyed me a little bit. After everything they had already been through I was hoping that they could trust each other a bit more instead of keeping things to themselves. 

A large proportion of this book focuses on family and what that can mean to someone. Noah has issues with his family, as does Echo and these things come back to haunt them both. The things that have happened before with family members have a huge effect on how Echo and Noah approach different situations and it was hard to see them act in the ways they did. This book raises a lot of questions about what a family really is and who is part of that family. 

Breaking the Rules is very busy plot wise. As previously mentioned, Echo and Noah have a lot going on and an unsure future ahead of them. They both have dreams that they want to pursue but they are so different. Noah is a musician while Echo is an artist and their dreams are threatening to pull them in different situations. It was heartbreaking to see these two struggle with their feelings for each other and want they wanted out of life, especially when they both thought those things didn’t work together. 

Breaking the Rules is a highly emotional read but a must for fans of the series and of Noah and Echo. 

Series wrap up – Bloodlines 4, 5 & 6

My wonderful husband bought me the final three books in the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead for my birthday last month. It had been a very long time since I read the first three books though and I was a little worried that I wouldn’t be able to get back into the series. Boy, was I wrong! After picking up book 3, The Fiery Heart I was hooked once again and I read all three books within a couple of days. 

Protagonists Sydney and Adrian are trying to find their feet in their secret relationship. Adrian is a Vampire and Sydney is an Alchemist which really means that they shouldn’t be together, especially in the eyes of the Alchemists. These two characters are the reasons why I started reading this series in the first place. Sydney is so different and the last three books really see her coming into her own and realising that she can be her

own person and not what other people think she should be. Then there’s Adrian who is just wonderful. He didn’t have the best reputation in the Vampire Academy series but he’s so different in these books and he turns into someone I loved!

The romance between Sydney and Adrian was pretty awesome. Each character has so much to overcome before they can finally be happy together and their journey of discovery is such a good one to discover. There are also many more romances in the last three books of this series though. A whole host of other characters are finding their own feet in the relationship department and while some are just a nice back story, some are much more important to the overall plot of the series. Richelle Mead writes fantastic chemistry between her characters and I think that’s partially why I love her books so much. 

A lot happens plot wise over the course of these final three books so it’s kind of hard to write about. However, I will say that I loved the changes in the dynamics of vampires and Alchemists. The things that happen affect the way a lot of people see the world and the changes are definitely for the better. Another thing I loved was the development of human magic. This added a whole other dimension to the story and it was something that made it stand out to the first three books. 

The Bloodlines series is very different from the Vampire Academy series but equally as enjoyable. I absolutely loved the final half of the series and I really couldn’t put each book down once I’d started. 

YA review: No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

Title: No Place to Fall
Author: Jaye Robin Brown
Series: N/A
Acquired: Bought
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release date: 9th December 2014

People think that Amber Vaughn is a good girl. What they don’t know is that she spends her summer evenings being someone else completely. She’s not the church going choir singer. She’s not sweet and innocent. She has dreams bigger than the small town she grew up in. 

Just when Amber thinks she may have the chance of getting out and making something of herself, her secrets spiral out of control and could ruin everything. 

If I hadn’t have been in Foyles one day, I would have never known about this book, let alone pick it up to buy it. Honestly, the cover is what got me but this is a debut novel and I didn’t really know what to expect. 

Protagonist Amber is supposedly a good, church going girl who sings in the choir and this is how the synopsis (the official one, not the one above) portrays her. However, right at the beginning of the book we learn that she is spending the evenings during summer break at a local cabin where hikers stay and she ends up hooking up with quite a few of them. This obviously instantly ruins the idea of her being the girl she’s made out to be. That bugged me. 

It’s not that Amber wasn’t likeable though, because she was in a weird way. This book sees her do a lot of pretty silly things and she doesn’t think anything through at all. Amber is one of those characters who you really want to hit with a ‘get real’ stick and make her realise that there’s a lot going on around her that she’s not even thinking about. I wanted her to sort herself out, to grow a bit more but unfortunately there isn’t as much character development as there could be. I really liked Amber’s passion for music which ran throughout the story. While she was a bit messed up over a number of things, music was the one thing that stayed clear and that was a nice touch. 

In regards to the plot, No Place to Fall is a bit all over the place. There’s so much going on from stealing, cheating and drugs that I didn’t really know whether I was coming or going. I do like some twists and turns in a book but this just had too much going on. Characters got lost in multiple plot lines and were never able to reach their full potential. Separate plot lines lacked excitement because they weren’t given enough time. It’s a shame really because this could have been a really great book. 

I really liked some of the secondary characters even if they were sort of forgotten about at times. Just like the plot, there were too many characters and if there had been a couple less, the others would have been given more time to shine. There were also quite a few stereotypes thrown in like it was for good measure which was a bit of a shame as it was unnecessary. 

Although I haven’t written a review full of really nice things about this book, I did like it in a strange kind of way. No Place to Fall is a very easy read and shows potential from the author. I would definitely give this author another try. 

Young Adult review: Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Title: Take Me On  
Author: Katie McGarry
Series: Pushing The Limits #4
Acquired: Bought
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Mira Ink
Release date:6th June 2014

Haley Williams was once a champion kickboxer but things changed and now she is putting everything into getting into college instead. 

West Young is everything Haley said she would stay away from but when he accepts a challenge that forces him to fight for her honour she knows he won’t last unless she helps him. 

Both Haley and West have secrets from each other but maybe together they’ll find something worth fighting for. 

Take Me On is the fourth book in the Pushing The Limits series and while it can be read on its own, it is better to read the series in order as this one is set just after events in other books. 

West and Haley meet in pretty bad circumstances but they soon find themselves forced together when West faces off against Haley’s ex-boyfriend. I really loved the idea for the plot as I haven’t read anything like this before. The drama builds from the very beginning and leads up to one big fight between West and Haley’s ex. There is so much tension between a lot of characters in this book and I really enjoyed watching things play out and to figure out how things would end for everyone. 

Not only is the plot dramatic and exciting but there’s also a much softer and emotional side to the story. Katy McGarry explores the idea of what family and home can mean to different people. This aspect of Take Me On was a wonderful contrast to the rest of the story. It also meant being able to really get to know Haley and West and all of the things that make them who they are in this book. 

From page one my heart went out to Haley. It is instantly clear that she and her family are in a pretty bad situation and that she used to fight. Used to being the operative word. She used to hold a national title. Then something happened and she stopped fighting completely. Haley clearly wants something better out of life than what she has but things aren’t looking very good for her. She is a fighter through and through even if she isn’t doing it in a ring and I loved her strength throughout this book. She really tried to keep things going for everyone around her even if it meant keeping things to herself and trying to sort everything out on her own. 

West on the other hand comes from a privileged background which we discovered in the previous book. I have to say that I wasn’t his biggest fan in the last book because of things that he did. However, he was actually a completely different person than I had expected him to be. I imagined him to be really selfish and stuck up but he wasn’t that at all. West is such a caring and chivalrous guy and I didn’t see it coming at all. What I loved most about him though is his protectiveness over Haley. 

Katy McGarry has the ability to write perfectly broken characters and give them one hell of a story, time after time. I loved Take Me On just as much as the other books in this series. 

YA review: The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

Title: The Death House
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Series: N/A
Acquired: Review
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Gollancz
Release date: 26th February 2015

Blood tests can change everything and Toby knows that all too well. The day his blood test showed him as Defective Toby was taken away from his family and taken to The Death House, where all the Defectives go. 

Toby, along with everyone else in The Death House, don’t get to live a normal life. They’re monitored by Matron and the nurses, go to classes that mean nothing to them and they wait for the sickness to come. 

Sickness means going to the sanatorium, the place that no one comes back from. 

Sometimes when I get an email from a publicist about a book I get super excited; not because it’s about a book I’ve been dying to read but because they bring something to my attention that I hadn’t heard of yet and it’s something that sounds amazing. This was how I felt when I got the email about The Death House. Although I do have my preferred genres or books I do still like to try something new and different now and again. 

The Death House is set in a world where some people are classed as Defectives. Well, not people, children. They’re forced to have a blood tests which reveals if they have the gene or not and if they do, they’re taken away from everything they know and are forced to live in The Death House with the rest of the Defectives. Isolated from the outside world, the Defectives soon give up hope that they’ll be able to go home or hear from their families. Days are spent in meaningless classes, cleaning and trying to get through another day without getting sick. 

Protagonist Toby seems to have come to terms with his new life in The Death House. Okay, he isn’t happy to be there just like everyone else as he knows what he has coming to him eventually. He is the oldest in his dorm though and that makes him their leader, the guy the others look up to. It isn’t until newcomers enter the house that everything changes and Toby begins to change how his time is spent. He actually begins to live instead of waiting to die. 

The Death House has such an eerie and creepy setting. The house itself is on some unknown island, cut off from society and none of the children know where they are. They have no knowledge of what is going on in the outside world or how their families are. All they know is that they are Defectives and at some point they are going to die. The thing about this book is that it never really explains what being a Defective means. I don’t see this as a bad thing though and I quite liked not really knowing much about it. The story really isn’t about what is wrong with the children but instead, what happens during their time in the house. 

Not only is there the mystery of being Defective but also of the sanatorium which honestly would have scared the crap out of me. Makes me shudder just thinking about it. 

Sarah Pinborough writes a host of extremely likable characters whom you can relate to. Toby is quite the realist. He tells it how it is and doesn’t hold any false hope. I loved Toby’s honesty with his dorm-mates and he was just the sort of person I’d want to have around because he didn’t sugar coat things. Will is a younger boy in dorm 4 who just doesn’t really understand what is going on and he just wants to go home to his family. There are also the bullies and the kids who think they can do whatever they want. It’s like a secondary school setting with the jealousy and rivalry. 

The Death House is really a journey of self discovery for Toby. There are a few really exciting twists over the course of the book and especially the ending. I didn’t see that coming at all. I couldn’t put this book down and it really is as exciting as it sounds!

Young Adult Review: What If by Rebecca Donovan

Title: What If
Author: Rebecca Donovan
Series: N/A
Acquired: Review
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Penguin
Release date: 22nd January 2015

Cal Logan moved on since high school. He’s no longer the skinny, geeky looking kid but now has a new life away at college. The day he sees Nicole Bentley he cannot believe his eyes. No one has seen or heard from her since graduation. 

The girl is not Nicole though, she’s Nyelle Preston; daring, bold and everything that Nicole isn’t. Cal can’t help but want to get to know Nyelle better seeing as he’s had a crush on Nicole since they were both children but she’s keeping secrets and Cal can’t figure out why. 

I’m sure we’ve all got those friends we went to school with, were pretty close to and then grew apart from. I know I have and I’ve often wondered what happened to them. What If is a story about friendship and how things can change whether it be due to moving away or just finding different friends. What If tells the story of four childhood friends who live close to one another. As children they are inseparable but due to various things, they drift apart. 

Cal is the main narrator as the story really does have more to do with him. He’s away at college and has stayed best friends with Rae since they were children. Richelle moved away and they didn’t keep in touch but Nicole is a bit of a mystery. Cal had a crush on her for a long time and it never really stopped, even though he hasn’t spoken to her for years. When he sees someone that looks exactly like her but acts differently, he can’t help but wonder if it really is her and something happened between graduation and the present day. The girl goes by Nyelle though and is nothing like the Nicole Cal used to know.  

While a large part of the book is spent with Cal and Nyelle in the present, there are also flashbacks to the group’s childhood through chapters narrated by each of the four characters. I really liked both aspects of What If as it was important to learn what happened to everyone over the course of many years. Children change, grow, turn into teenagers and learn different things about life that affects who they are and what they do. Cal, Nicole, Rae and Richelle are all really different people with different personalities so I enjoyed figuring out why they all became friends in the first place. 

Another thing I loved about this book was Cal and Nyelle together. Cal thinks Nyelle is Nicole and he can’t get the idea out of his head but he has no way of proving it and Rae thinks he’s insane. So, Cal attempts to get to know Nyelle to figure out if he’s right or not and she has a completely different personality to Nicole. Nyelle is impulsive, daring, fun and crazy and Cal doesn’t know what to make of her at all. Both Cal and Nyelle are really fun characters to read about especially as they get to know one another. They get up to some really silly and crazy things and it gave the story a great feel to it. 

What If is a lot more than the things I have written about in this review but writing about them would really spoil the story for others who want to read it but haven’t yet. As a fan of Rebecca Donovan’s other books I wasn’t disappointed at all with this one. What If is super fun coming of age story but a mystery to try to solve added in. I couldn’t have enjoyed this one more!