Friday, 24 March 2017

The Inconceivable Life of Quinn by Marianne Baer: Review

The Inconceivable Life of QuinnTitle: The Inconceivable Life of Quinn
Author: Marianna Baer
Publisher: Amulet Books
Quinn Cutler is sixteen and the daughter of a high-profile Brooklyn politician. She’s also pregnant, a crisis made infinitely more shocking by the fact that she has no memory of ever having sex. Before Quinn can solve this deeply troubling mystery, her story becomes public. Rumors spread, jeopardizing her reputation, her relationship with a boyfriend she adores, and her father’s campaign for Congress. Religious fanatics gather at the Cutlers’ home, believing Quinn is a virgin, pregnant with the next messiah. Quinn’s desperate search for answers uncovers lies and family secrets—strange, possibly supernatural ones. Might she, in fact, be a virgin?


I have to start this review by saying that The Inconceivable Life of Quinn is one of the strangest books I have ever read, and I am completely unsure how I feel about it. It is such a weird and yet utterly compelling story. When I read the summary for this book I was instantly intrigued and knew I had to read it. Quinn Cutler is the sixteen year old daughter of  Brooklyn politician who is currently running for US Congress. The family is facing a ton of media scrutiny, so there couldn't actually be a worse time for Quinn to find out she is pregnant. The situation is made a whole lot worse because Quinn has no memory of ever having sex, as far as she is concerned she is a virgin and so is her long term boyfriend. It is a huge scandal for the family, and an alienating experience for Quinn as almost no one believes her. We follow Quinn as she tries to figure out how this happened, whether she has repressed the memory of a sexual assault or if something more supernatural is happening, or if she should believe those who think she is carrying the next messiah.

The best way to sum up reading this book:
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Going into this book, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. The summary hints to a supernatural element, whilst also making it seem like it could be a clean cut contemporary. The book makes for interesting, compelling and frustrating reading. You're so eager to get answers, whilst feeling like you can't trust Quinn as she is an unreliable narrator at times. I really loved the mystery of it all, it grabs you and you're desperate to find out what actually happened to Quinn. I just had to know how Quinn has found herself pregnant, whilst insisting she is still a virgin. I was so curious to see how the author would wrap it all up.

If you're looking for a book that will keep you guessing, this is definitely that book. Almost the entire book I couldn't decide what I thought was really going on and I never would have guessed either. Be warned that this is a slow paced book, where the plot revolves solely on finding out the truth to Quinn's pregnancy. I can tell this book will divide opinion, some won't be able to deal with the end as well as others will. Personally, I do wish that I had got more of a payoff. But then I also couldn't put this book down, there is just something so compelling about Baer's writing that grabs me. The book could definitely have committed to magical realism elements earlier on in the story and then the end would have worked better.

This book is just so hard to review, and that is because I have honestly never read anything else like it. It was a unique reading experience and those are rare to find the over saturated market of YA, where sometimes it feels like you have read the same story ten times over. So I have to applaud Baer for being able to grip me and then genuinely surprise me. She's someone to watch and I will be very curious to see what she comes up with next. If you're looking for something different, that will keep you guessing till the very end then this is definitely worth reading.

3.5 Butterflies

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren: Review

The Last Thing You SaidTitle: The Last Thing You Said
Author: Sara Biren
Publisher: Amulet Books
Last summer, Lucy’s and Ben’s lives changed in an instant. One moment, they were shyly flirting on a lake raft, finally about to admit their feelings to each other after years of yearning. In the next, Trixie—Lucy’s best friend and Ben’s sister—was gone, her heart giving out during a routine swim. And just like that, the idyllic world they knew turned upside down, and the would-be couple drifted apart, swallowed up by their grief. Now it’s a year later in their small lake town, and as the anniversary of Trixie’s death looms, Lucy and Ben’s undeniable connection pulls them back together. They can’t change what happened the day they lost Trixie, but the summer might finally bring them closer to healing—and to each other.

The Last Thing You Said turned out to be one of those books that I devoured in one sitting, as I needed to see how it would turn out for these characters. I foolishly started it just before bed, thinking I could read a couple of chapters and then put it down for the night, with the plan to return to it the next day. That did not happen, instead I ended up reading it in one go, staying up till the early am and paying for it dearly the next day at work. It was totally worth it though, there was just something about the story and the characters that made me unable to leave them until I knew how it all worked out for them.

Lucy and Trixie have been best friends for almost their entire lives, an inseparable pair, you wouldn't see one without the other. Lucy also just happens to be in love with Trixie's brother Ben, and she suspects that he might feel the same way. Just as it is seems that everything might work out for them, Trixie's heart gives out due to an undiagnosed heart condition. Ben hasn't really spoken to Lucy since, Lucy is struggling without Ben to lean or and without her best friend by her side. The anniversary of Trixie's death is looming closer, and Lucy and Ben keep finding themselves thrust together. The summer seems to be offering them a chance to heal and find their way back into each other's lives.

Recently I have read a ton of contemporary reads that deal with grief and I have enjoyed them all. What I particularly liked about this book was how it explore the uglier side to grief, how it can change us and turn us into people even we don't recognise. Every person copes with loss differently, some allow their own guilt and sadness to turn into anger that they aim at those who don't deserve it. It is horrible, it is also true to life and just how some people learn to cope. That is how Ben coped, by assigning blame to Lucy that she didn't deserve. It was hard to read and I will admit that sometimes I wanted to reach into the book and shake his character.

Sometimes I had to question myself and why I was so eager for these two to find their way back together. Ben could be a truly awful person and he was completely in the wrong, but I still felt for him. I am there, thinking he is a total asshole, whilst also really wanting it to work out for him and Lucy. Damn you, Sara Biren, you are good!

This was such a quick read for me as I couldn't leave it until I was done. It's a very enjoyable read and a great contemporary. It wasn't without its problems, mostly it had the over the top drama that usually bugs me in a book. I might have also totally hated the relationship that developed between Lucy and the renter next door, he came off far too creepy and clingy and I wish that was addressed more. This book just really worked for me though, it was such a great exploration of grief and how it can tear people apart but also bring them back together.

4/5 Butterflies

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Building My Own Army of Fictional Characters + GIVEAWAY



It's World Book Day! The 20th World Book Day to be precise. And what a wonderful day it is. A day to promote my favourite thing: BOOKS! This is always such a fun day, especially when you work in libraries, that was especially true in public libraries. I love watching all the little kids running around in their costumes based off of fictional characters. I still remember the year where I dressed up at work as a Hogwarts students, with full robe and wand. It was a wonderful day! I just love watching children get excited about reading, and I hope that excitement and love of reading stays with them into adulthood.

I was actually lucky enough to be approached by Egmont to see if I wanted to help promote one of the wonderful £1 books coming out this World Book Day. Hmmmm, do I want to promote books that help instil a love of reading in the next generation? OF COURSE I DO! So I said yes. I quickly said yes because the book in question is by Michael Grant, the man behind the fantastic Gone series. The WBD book is called Dead of Night and links into his Front Lines series. The Front Lines series is a young adult alternate history book set in America. It proposes the question, what if women had been allowed to fight on the front lines during WWII. It sounded incredible and I can't wait to read it myself, I am a huge fan of alternate history books, they are some of my favourites.

I was lucky enough to get sent a copy of Front Lines, as well as the sequel Silver Stars and the WBD short story Dead of Night. I am very excited to read them all. Here is a little more information on the first book:

Front Lines (Soldier Girl, #1)1942. World War II. The most terrible war in human history. Millions are dead; millions more are still to die. The Nazis rampage across Europe and eye far-off America.

The green, untested American army is going up against the greatest fighting force ever assembled—the armed forces of Nazi Germany.

But something has changed. A court decision makes females subject to the draft and eligible for service. So in this World War II, women and girls fight, too.

As the fate of the world hangs in the balance, three girls sign up to fight. Rio Richlin, Frangie Marr, and Rainy Schulterman are average girls, girls with dreams and aspirations, at the start of their lives, at the start of their loves. Each has her own reasons for volunteering. Not one expects to see actual combat. Not one expects to be on the front lines.

Rio, Frangie, and Rainy will play their parts in the war to defeat evil and save the human race. They will fear and they will rage; they will suffer and they will inflict suffering; they will hate and they will love. They will fight the greatest war the world has ever known.




As a little something fun for this World Book Day, I thought I would pose myself a question: If I had to go into battle, what women from fiction would I want fighting by my side? I am also linking this up with Top Ten Tuesday, as there is no prompts for the last few weeks. A brilliant question and one I took some time to think of. I realised I don't just need those who can wield a weapon, or who would march bravely into battle, I also need those smart women who can help from behind the front line. So, without further ado, here are some of the wonderful women of fiction that I would want on my side:

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Artwork by Charle Bowater

Manon Blackbeach - Throne of Glass

I ADORE MANON!!! She is the best character in the Throne of Glass series now. Seriously, I just love her and Asterin. I don't just want Manon, I want her and her Thirteen. If I can get their Wyverns too then I would have an unstoppable force all of its own. But even if I could only have Manon, I would be happy. She has CLAWS! Giant nails that could slice my throat. She is loyal, she is brutal and she will fight till the death, and you can bet it won't be her death. She can be horrifyingly scary though, she would probably petrify me but I love her.




Celaena Sardothien - Throne of Glass

I think this one doesn't need too much explaining. Celaena Sardothien is an assassin, who seems rather unafraid to throw herself into battle. She is used to getting her hands dirty, watching her back and using the element of surprise to best her opponent. Of course I would want her to be on my team. Although I would spend the whole time worrying she might kill us all if she suddenly decided we weren't worthy or useful to her - the progression of that series proved to me that Celaena is either very forgetful, very fickle or very unloyal. But, hey, she can wield a blade and also has powers!


Image result for hermione granger fighting gifHermione Granger - Harry Potter

I want Hermione on my side for so many reasons. She's kind, she's smart, she is loyal and she is so very brave. I don't like that many people just associate a 'strong female character' as basically meaning someone who can fight or wield a weapon. It isn't. Don't get me wrong, I think Hermione is skilled in magic and I wouldn't want to face her on a battlefied. Plus we all know she can throw a punch. But she is also ridiculously clever, she always seems to be thinking faster than everyone around her. She would be brilliant in a war, she's already faced one and won.


A little something to make sure I can still paint after my week off!
I read ‘Not a Drop to Drink’ whilst I was away. I loved it and this is very much inspired by Lynn.
A couple of hours in PS :)
Artwork by Charlie Bowater
Lynn - Not a Drop to Drink

I really feel like the Not a Drop to Drink series is far too underrated and doesn't get nearly the love it deserves. This is such a beautifully written series, set in a dystopian future it is easy to imagine becoming possible. Lynn is such a fantastic character, she is such an emotionally strong person. The events she goes through and the things she endures would break me as a person, but she gets through it and helps others. She is skilled with a gun, she's also hilarious and someone I know I would love to spend time with. She also protects those she loves with everything she has, so she would be perfect.



Image result for katniss everdeen shooting gifKatniss Everdeen - The Hunger Games

Come on, of course I am not going to go into war without Katniss Everdeen. I LOVE that girl. I don't care what others say about her, I think she is a fantastic character. She is strong in so many ways, but she isn't indestructible. She does hurt, she does break, she forms emotional bonds but rarely, only to those she truly feels are worth her time. She can hunt with a bow and arrow, she has killed before. Sure, she is probably not going to provide the most small talk, you'd be lucky if she even spoke to you. I still want her on my team!



Artwork by PhantomRim

Mustang - Red Rising

Mustang is a pretty kickass character and I absolutely adore her. I didn't when she was first introduced, as I was still recovering from the events of the first half of Red Rising. She quickly grew on me, because she is just incredible. She is another wickedly smart character, who is actually has the brains and mind for politics, which could prove very useful. Plus if I befriended her during a war she might introduce me to my two favourite people: Darrow & Sevro! YES, PLEASE!




Image result for lisbeth salander gifLisbeth Salander - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I honestly don't talk about the awesome Lisbeth Salander enough!!!! I think it is because I concentrate so much on young adult on here, I just seem to forget about her. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was an amazing book and introduced me to one of my favourite characters of all time: Lisbeth Salander. Now this girl is smart, so smart that I can't even fathom it. She is also an expert in technology, she could probably hack into anything she sets her mind too. She doesn't take any crap from anyone, which I love about her.




So there are just some of the wonderful women I would want on my side during a war. Which women would you want fighting by your side?

Now time for a giveaway:



Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer: Review

Letters to the LostTitle: Letters to the Lost
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Juliet Young has always written letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope. 

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past. 

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither of them knows that they're not actually strangers. When real life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart. This emotional, compulsively-readable romance will sweep everyone off their feet.
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Before Letters to the Lost, I'd actually once tried to read another book by Brigid Kemerer, Storm, the first book in her Elemental series. I ended up not finishing the book, I couldn't get in to the story and thought that maybe her writing just wasn't for me. So I must admit that I was a little hesitant to pick Letters to the Lost up, but I just had to read it as it seemed like exactly my kind of contemporary. I was so very right. I am so glad I took a chance on it, I ended up absolutely loving this bstory and now I am left wanting more from this author. I read this book in just a few hours, I honestly just couldn't put it down and step away from the story or these characters. Within just a few pages Kemmerer managed to get me ridiculously invested in her characters and their story. Ahhhhhh, I just really loved this book and now I just kind of want to gush about it.

Since Juliet lost her mother in a car accident, she has been leaving letters at her grave as a way to feel close to her. Her mother was a war photographer, constantly travelling to war torn countries to capture the true horror, so letters have always been how Juliet and her mother kept in touch whilst she was away. Juliet never expects anyone to read the letters she leaves at her mother's grave, she definitely doesn't expect anyone to reply. But Declan does. He is currently doing community service at the graveyard when he finds one of her letters. He understands her feelings, he is still dealing with the death of his sister and the guilt he feels from that. He write back, which begins a communication between the two of them. They seem to understand each others pain, guilt and grief, but they don't realise that they know each other in real life and they haven't exactly had the best interactions with one another. Cue all the good stuff!

Image result for now kiss gifI'm not even sure where to begin, there are so many things that I loved about this book. It covered so many issues so well, and gave me so many feelings in the process. I think first I should say that I loved the characters, they just felt so real. Their grief and pain was just so easy for me to understand and relate to, as well as their guilt, even for the things they really shouldn't blame themselves for. I loved watching Juliet and Declan connect through their letters, whilst also getting to know one another in real life without even realising it. It showed so well how quickly we can judge people and make assumptions about them, without knowing their full story. It also perfectly showed how anonymity can make us far more comfortable and willing to show who we really are.

This book dealt with a lot of tough subjects, not just loss and grief; Brigid Kemmerer dealt with these all so well. It never felt like too much, or that she went too over the top with it like I have seen in other books. These tough issues were never used for drama, they were so important to the story and these characters, who they were and the decisions they made.

Another thing I loved about the book was all the different relationships portrayed here. You had those with good relationship with their parents, those without. Not to mention the strong friendships here, ones that I really enjoyed. I especially enjoyed Declan's relationship with his best friend Rev, the level of understanding those two have of each other is just brilliant. They know each others past and the struggles it caused them, they were supportive, whilst also being capable of calling the other out on their bullshit when they needed it. I felt the family relationships were also very realistic, especially Declan's struggles with his step father. I felt like their lack of communication was so true to real life. If you don't open up and tell someone your feelings and motivations, they'll judge you only on what they can see and that won't always be who you are. I really enjoyed how Kemmerer dealt with that relationship over the course of this novel.

Image result for kiss already gifKemmerer did such a wonderful job building up the relationship between Declan and Juliet. This is a fantastic contemporary, where the romance isn't overpowering the story, and I actually preferred it that way. This was definitely a slow build and slow burn romance, with two characters truly opening up and getting to know each other; my favourite kind of romance. That isn't to say that I didn't totally want to see these two end up together, I did. I shipped these two so very hard!

I absolutely loved this book and can't really find any faults with it. My one and only complain might be that I wanted one more chapter or so, which is what I seem to say about every single contemporary I ever read. That's not because the ending didn't wrap up the story enough or didn't give me closure, it was just that I didn't feel ready to say goodbye to these characters, which is a good sign that I loved the book.


5/5 Butterflies