Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Review on The Dream Thieves

Ronan Lynch has three secrets. One of these secrets is that he can take things out of his dreams and place them in the real world. However, with the ley line newly awakened, there have been energy surges in the town, followed by the line weakening. Ronan soon finds out that stealing things out of dreams and the weakening of the line might be connected. With the raven boys coming ever closer in their search for the missing Welsh king Glyndwr, Ronan must try to take control of his dreams. However, Ronan's secret might not be a secret after all. A man known only as The Gray Man is looking for him, and Ronan's life may be in danger.

After reading The Raven Boys I was extremely excited to get hold of the sequel! The book starts a little while after where The Raven Boys finished off, and the boys are very much still in pursuit of Glyndwr. However, Ronan has revealed one of his secrets to his friends, which is that he took his pet raven out of his dreams, and that he is able to do the same with other things. As Ronan was my favourite character in the first book, I was happy that The Dream Thieves focused on him more. I loved learning more about Ronan Lynch, especially his past and the fact that his ability had been passed down to him by his father. Ronan is a very interesting character, and although he is the typical bad boy who is constantly swearing, drinking and street racing, he definitely stole my heart even more in this book. I loved seeing a different side to him, and I found the way he acted towards animals to be extremely sweet. Basically Ronan Lynch is my son and I love him very much.

I loved the idea of being able to take things out of dreams. It was interesting to see the variation of what could be taken out, from living things, physical objects and mythical creatures. I loved that it was shown that the ability could be used for both good and evil, and that bad things could happen if the power was abused. Although the search for Glyndwr plot line took somewhat of a back seat in this story, I adored this new storyline, and how it all still connected back to Glyndwr and the power of the ley line.

I loved that there was little hints that Adam was changing due to sacrificing himself to Cabeswater in the previous book. Adam now has a strong connection to Cabeswater, which due to the weakening of the ley line has seemingly disappeared from existence. Adam gets frightening visions of ghosts who are trying to communicate with him, and he soon finds out it is up to him to restore the ley line and help Ronan. I adored finding out more about Adam's first interactions with Gansey and Ronan when he had first started going to Aglionby, and although he was problematic towards Gansey and Blue on a few occasions, I still love Adam just as much as I did in the first book.

I also have to talk about Noah, which is something I didn't do in my review of The Raven Boys. Although he isn't a main character, I really love Noah and find him completely adorable. I love how he gets excited over simple things such as snow globes, and I particularly loved his friendship with Ronan in this book, as they both have a very silly sense of humour and get on with each other well. I also found myself shipping Noah and Blue which is not something I thought I would ever do! I found the kiss between them both very funny and very sweet, and although I do love the relationship between Blue and Gansey, I was honestly wishing that Blue and Noah could be together.

Although Gansey was shown to be one of the most important characters in The Raven Boys, I felt as if he took more of a back seat role in this book, and gave Ronan his time to shine. Although Gansey was still very much a part of this book, I felt that I didn't learn many new things about him, and that Ronan and Adam were changing a lot more than Gansey was. I did however love the progression of Gansey and Blue's relationship. Usually romance is a plot point that puts me off a book, but I love that the romance in this book is extremely subtle, and surprisingly I'm actually enjoying the romantic relationships forming between the characters.

I loved the introduction of The Gray Man, as he was extremely mysterious, and although he initially seemed like he was going to be the new villain, his character took a surprising turn. I loved learning a little more about him and the reasons why he was trying to run away from his past. Although at first he seemed a little inhuman, it slowly became evident that he disliked his job and just wanted to have a normal life.

I have to mention how much I hated Kavinsky! Joseph Kavinsky, a fellow Aglionby student seems to take a liking to Ronan. However, although he is constantly giving him presents and racing with him, he does it in the worst way possible. I hated that he was homophobic towards Ronan, and was constantly accusing him of being in love with Gansey. I felt as if Kavinsky was jealous that Ronan didn't seem to care about people knowing he was gay, and I loved that when Kavinsky asked him about it directly he didn't feel the need to deny it. I feel as if openly gay and confident characters like Ronan are extremely important in YA, and although Ronan is problematic, he is also extremely likeable.

I loved that the ending of this book brought Cabeswater and Glyndwr back to the forefront, which sets up Blue Lily, Lily Blue to get back on track with Gansey's search. I have extremely high expectations for this series now, and am excited to find out what happens next. I adore all of these characters and can't wait to find out what happens to them!


Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Review on Risuko

When Kano Murasaki's mother sells her to Lady Chiyome, her whole world changes. Although she is told she has been bought to become a shrine maiden, she soon finds out that this is not the truth. Alongside her new friends Emi and Toumi, Murasaki, nicknamed Risuko for her ability to climb, must find out the truth about why they are there. However there is a traitor in their midst who is searching rooms and trying to poison everyone. Risuko must find out who the true culprit is if she is ever to shift the blame from herself.

I found this book while browsing through Netgalley, and as is it is a YA book set in Japan it grabbed my interest. I feel as if the majority of YA books are set in English speaking countries, so I found it interesting that this book was not. The book follows Kano Murasaki, a young girl who has been given the nickname Risuko (Squirrel) as she loves climbing. However she is taken away suddenly from her mother and sister by Lady Chiyome, who explains that her mother has sold her so that she can become a shrine maiden. I found the start of the book to be a little slow, but once they ran into the armies the book picked up pace and I loved the fast paced fights that took place. I especially loved Mieko, one of Lady Chiyome's servants who is an exceptionally good fighter, and easily takes down the soldiers. I loved the idea of training young girls to become samurai's who could easily hold their own against male soldiers.

Although I did love their journey to the school, I did find the middle of the book somewhat boring. Although I loved the little hints that were thrown in that Risuko and her friends weren't actually there to become shrine maidens, I felt as if there was way too much time explaining what they were doing in the kitchen, such as butchering animals and making soup. Understanding what each herb was for was necessary to the plot, but apart from that I felt as if a lot of the time spent in the kitchens was unnecessary and my interest in the plot did start to slip. I loved Risuko's backstory, especially with what had happened to her father and the reasons why he decided to stop being a Samarai and become a scribe.

I loved that there was a traitor in the school who was searching through Lady Chiyome and Misugu's rooms and attempting to poison everyone. I always enjoy trying to guess who it is in these kinds of situations, and I was glad that I had no idea who it could be until it was revealed! It was a huge surprise and there was multiple instances where I suspected a certain character, only to find out that it wasn't them. I loved hearing the explanation for why they did it, along with Risuko trying to save everyone else.

I loved Emi and Toumi and their individual personalities. Although Toumi initially hated Risuko, I loved watching their relationship gradually change to a point where they became reluctant friends. However I did feel as if the male characters needed more work, as I felt as if their personalities weren't revealed to the reader, and although some of the male characters such as Misugu were important to the plot, I felt as if I didn't know enough about him or his background.

There were certain parts of the story which I loved, but as a whole I felt as if there was too much build up to revealing the true reason why Risuko was there, and I was bored for the majority of the book. Although this is part of a series, I was hoping for this book to progress faster than it did and for Risuko's training to get more underway than it did. I'm torn between if I want to continue with this series or not, as although I didn't enjoy this one much, I'm interested to find out what will happen to Risuko next, and if she will become a great Samurai like her father once was. As the next book isn't out until next year, I am afraid that I may forget about this one before the sequel is out.

Risuko is  available to purchase from 15th June!

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Review on You Know Me Well

Mark and Kate have sat next to each other in class all year. However, it isn't until they happen to meet at a local gay bar that they actually start talking to each other. They soon find out that they have more in common than they thought, and they quickly form a strong friendship. However, they are both going through personal problems. Mark is in love with his best friend, who doesn't feel the same way about him, and Kate is worrying about her future, and wondering if she is ready to start a new life at college. There's also Violet to consider, a girl who Kate has known for years but who she's only just recently met. As Pride week is in full swing, Mark and Kate must help each other through the week, and decide what they should do.

When I saw the blurb of this book I knew I was going to love it! Although I have never read anything by Nina LaCour before, I am a huge fan of David Levithan so I was excited to start reading this one. The chapters alternate between the point of views of Mark and Kate, which I loved as they are both equally as important as each other. The majority of books have only one protagonist, so I loved that this was a little different, as Mark and Kate were equally important in this story.

As soon as Mark and Kate met I knew that I was going to love this story. Mark is trying to impress his crush and best friend Ryan, while Kate is avoiding meeting the girl who her best friend has constantly been telling her about. I loved how relatable Kate was, as throughout the majority of the novel, she is unsure of a number of things in her life, from meeting Violet in person, to not knowing if she wants to go to college or take a gap year. I loved that Violet was the catalyst that made her come to her decision, and how she became an important person in Kate's life.

I loved how real this book was, as it showed a number of problems that many teenagers face in real life, such as unrequited love, self doubt and huge decisions such as what college to attend. I find that I tend to steer clear of the majority of contemporary novels, as I usually find that they are extremely cliché and repetitive. I loved that this was not the case at all with this book, and although a few problems were resolved, it definitely wasn't a happily ever after, as Mark and Kate still had a long way to go to achieve their ultimate goals. I loved that this showed that life goals take time and don't just happen overnight. I also loved the important message that life is constantly changing, and although you might not live in the same place or have the same friends that you do now in ten years time, you have to live in the moment and stop worrying about too far into the future. I feel as if we are all guilty of this at some point in our lives and are often pessimistic about the future, so I loved that this was addressed in a positive way.

I adored the romance forming between Kate and Violet, and found it extremely sweet and romantic. I loved Violet from the start and found it adorable that she had tried to bring a rose to Kate for their first meeting. I loved the cute little gestures she does for Kate throughout the book, and although their relationship progresses quite quickly, to me it didn't feel forced and seemed to progress naturally. I also loved that they realised how quickly things were progressing, and Violet even asked if she wanted them to tone things down a little. There was no professions of love, which I found to be important as I think rushing into things without getting to know each other first is always destined to end in disaster.

Although I was heartbroken for Mark, I loved that the book showed a realistic interpretation of unrequited love. The majority of us have at some point had a crush on someone who hasn't liked us back, and I feel as if not many YA novels address this extremely common life experience. It would have been only too easy for the authors to have made Ryan change his mind about his feelings for Mark and realise that deep down he wanted to be with him all along, so although I would have loved for them to have become a cute couple, in a way I was actually glad that it didn't happen, as it completely stopped the book from becoming a cliché. I loved that although Mark was clearly heartbroken that Ryan would never be anything more than his best friend, he was still there for him when he needed him. I loved that their friendship didn't end up becoming awkward or that it didn't slowly fade away, and I loved that Mark helped him through his coming out experience.

The friendships in this book were extremely important, and I loved that they were the focus point of this book rather than the romance. I feel as if the importance of friendship is rarely shown in YA books, although to me personally friendship is a more important relationship than romantic ones. A lot of contemporary YA seems to focus on romantic relationships, which I am honestly finding increasingly boring, so I adored that both romantic and platonic relationships were shown in this book. I also loved that it showed that just because two people of the same gender are homosexual, it doesn't always mean that they have to date each other. I particularly loved the friendship between Kate and Lehna, as although they are both lesbian, the idea of being together romantically is something that they've never even though about. I identified with Lehna's struggles, as on multiple occasions I have had close friends replace me with someone else, so I really felt for her when she was upset that Kate was replacing her with Mark.

 The book showed the importance of communication, as although having a conversation you have been avoiding for a while can have an upsetting outcome, it allows you to move on and stop dwelling on the fact that you will inevitably have to have the conversation at some point. I also loved that there was representation of trans and non-binary people, as I rarely come across these representations in YA books and feel as if there needs to be a lot more. I honestly both laughed and cried at this book, and even if like me, contemporary is usually not your cup of tea I would still definitely give this one a read!

You Know Me Well is now available to purchase in the UK, and will be available from June 7th in the US!