A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa TahirA Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
Published by Penguin on June 12th 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 480
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“There are worse things than death,” I say. “Shall we learn about them together?”

 

When it comes to heart-racing action scenes, I cannot think of another YA author who does it better than Sabaa Tahir. She plunges you into the chaos almost immediately and once again, for the third book in a row, she keeps the drama and bloodshed coming until the very end.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient by Helen HoangThe Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Published by Penguin on June 5th 2018
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 336
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Well, this book. I’m not even sure where to start. I guess I’ll begin with an overview.

The Kiss Quotient is a seriously sexy, fun book that has rekindled my interest in the romance genre. When it hits the spot, I LOVE a good romance, but I rarely find one that goes beyond cliches and instalove so I usually end up bored. Not with this one. Not one bit.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Exit West by Mohsin HamidExit West by Mohsin Hamid
Published by Penguin on March 7th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Literary
Pages: 240
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In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . .

“When we migrate, we murder from our lives those we leave behind.”

I thought this book was quietly brutal. And quietly beautiful, as well.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa TahirA Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
Published by Penguin on August 30th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 464
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Elias and Laia are running for their lives.
After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.   Laia is determined to break into Kauf—the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison—to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars' survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.  But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and, most heartbreaking of all, Helene—Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike.
Bound to Marcus's will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own—one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape...and kill them both.
From the Hardcover edition.

I realize I am not staring into his eyes. I am staring into my future.
I see it for a moment. Pain. Suffering. Horror. All that I love, all that matters to me, awash in blood.

Oh my god. I loved it.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You by Jojo MoyesMe Before You by Jojo Moyes
Published by Penguin on December 31st 2012
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary Women, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 400
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They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

As much as I like a good love story, I wouldn’t call myself a romantic. Not by a long shot. In fact, I can be pretty cold-hearted when it comes to romance books, remaining emotionless in the face of tragic heartbreak and loss. The Fault in Our Stars didn’t move me. Eleanor & Park was cute, but still an average read for me.
There’s just certain things that I don’t like. Emotionally manipulative books that feel as if the author set out with an agenda to tug at my heart strings – that would be up there with the worst. I guess I subconsciously rebel when I can see what the author’s trying to do to my feelings. I avoid a lot of adult chick lit for this reason – because experience has shown that most of these books are like Lifetime movies: melodramatic and cheesily message-driven.
But somehow – despite my reluctance to try this book because it seemed it would fall into all the aforementioned boxes – I ended up caving under the pressure and grabbing this book from my local library. I didn’t expect much. I was just going to try a little bit and see how it went, feeling confident that it would be crappy and I would be right. But hell, I got schooled.

I just… I can’t even pretend anymore, screw the book snobbery, I thought Me Before You was wonderful.
I laughed.
I cried.
I shipped like crazy.
I stayed up most of the night.

Being proven wrong may never have felt so good.
I got the giggles about halfway through chapter one and struggled to get rid of them. Humour books are always a difficult sell because I guess it always depends on what you find funny… but I found Lou Clark to be an hilarious heroine. She’s one of those charming but unfortunate individuals that finds herself in numerous awkward situations but somehow gets through them and just warms your heart with her delightful lack of propriety.
I don’t know if there is really such a thing as a “British sense of humour” but I’ve enjoyed a bunch of British chick lit/humour with similar MCs – Bridget Jones, Confessions of Georgia Nicholson – so maybe there’s a pattern here with my tastes.
If you’re considering this book but think you’re a shameless unromantic like me, DO NOT read any quotes from it. People keep pulling up these quotes about the meaning of life and carpe diem and it makes the whole thing seem much cheesier than it is. I thought there was a pleasant lack of cheese, hehe. It’s also nowhere near as romantic as everything tries to make you think: the cover (the UK one is even worse), the blurb, the title… when actually there’s very little romance. There is a touch of finding love in unexpected places and against the odds, but the main focus of this book is about life and the importance of choices.
If you haven’t already been told, the story is about Lou who needs a job and Will who needs a carer after an accident left him paralysed. Completely unable to move anything below his mid torso, Will longs for death and wants to go to Switzerland to put an end to his misery. Horrified by this discovery, Lou sets out to improve his life and give him a reason to live and look forward to each day. The relationship between them is told in such a wonderful way and develops through several stages, each filled with hilarity.
I think people’s reactions, emotions and decisions felt completely realistic in Me Before You, even if I didn’t always like them. The whole book was filled with the funny, ridiculous situations that we expect to find in comic fiction, but balanced out with a hard dose of reality. It makes you think about things you didn’t think about before without seeming like the author wanted to make you think about them. Things like just how depressing the lack of wheelchair access is in most venues. But there’s a great balance between the funny and the serious, so the latter never becomes too much.
This book made me feel all the emotions without seeming to try too hard. Love was found in a very unexpected place and I definitely want to check out the author’s other work.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Half Lost by Sally Green

Half Lost by Sally GreenHalf Lost by Sally Green
Published by Penguin on March 29th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal
Pages: 352
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The magical, stunning conclusion to the internationally acclaimed Half Bad trilogy.
The Alliance is losing. Their most critical weapon, seventeen-year-old witch Nathan Brynn, has killed fifty-two people, and yet he’s no closer to ending the tyrannical, abusive rule of the Council of White Witches in England. Nor is Nathan any closer to his personal goal: getting revenge on Annalise, the girl he once loved, before she committed an unthinkable crime. There is an amulet, protected by the extremely powerful witch Ledger, which could be the tool Nathan needs to save himself and the Alliance. But the amulet is not so easily acquired. And lately Nathan has started to suffer from visions: a vision of a golden moment when he dies, and of an endless line of Hunters, impossible to overcome. Gabriel, his closest companion, encourages Nathan to run away with him, to start a peaceful life together. But even Gabriel’s love may not be enough to save Nathan from this war, or from the person he has become.

“I’ve killed fifty-two people. But really all I want is to get my hands on her. I’d be happy with fifty-three. Just one more and I’ll be satisfied.”

One StarOne StarHalf a Star

Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye

Jane Steele by Lyndsay FayeJane Steele by Lyndsay Faye
Published by Penguin on March 22nd 2016
Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Pages: 400
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“Reader, I murdered him.”   A sensitive orphan, Jane Steele suffers first at the hands of her spiteful aunt and predatory cousin, then at a grim school where she fights for her very life until escaping to London, leaving the corpses of her tormentors behind her. After years of hiding from the law while penning macabre “last confessions” of the recently hanged, Jane thrills at discovering an advertisement.  Her aunt has died and her childhood home has a new master: Mr. Charles Thornfield, who seeks a governess.   Burning to know whether she is in fact the rightful heir, Jane takes the position incognito, and learns that Highgate House is full of marvelously strange new residents—the fascinating but caustic Mr. Thornfield, an army doctor returned from the Sikh Wars, and the gracious Sikh butler Mr. Sardar Singh, whose history with Mr. Thornfield appears far deeper and darker than they pretend. As Jane catches ominous glimpses of the pair’s violent history and falls in love with the gruffly tragic Mr. Thornfield, she faces a terrible dilemma: can she possess him—body, soul, and secrets—without revealing her own murderous past?

The first 1/3-1/2 of this book was really great.

One StarOne StarOne Star

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve TucholkeWink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
Published by Penguin on March 22nd 2016
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 256
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Every story needs a hero. Every story needs a villain. Every story needs a secret.
Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.
What really happened? Someone knows. Someone is lying.
For fans of Holly Black, We Were Liars, and The Virgin Suicides, this mysterious tale full of intrigue, dread, beauty, and a whiff of something strange will leave you utterly entranced.

“We were like the three Fates, weaving the story together, threads of gold, red, and midnight blue. There would be wolves and tricks and lies and cunning and vengeance in our story. I would make sure of it.”

One StarOne Star