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Lemonade Library

Setting up over here for now whilst I decide how I want to shelve my books online.
A Faint Cold Fear  - Karin Slaughter This just felt quite disappointing. I LOVED the first two books in the series, but this one didn't hook me. The mystery element wasn't exciting and I certainly wasn't racing through to the end. There seemed to be a spark missing, but I could never quite put my finger on what it was. Maybe the whole plot just wasn't good enough, or it should have played out in a different way...I don't know.

Pretty much the only reason I've given it three stars is because I do still enjoy Slaughter's writing and her characters - it felt like I was using the book to catch up on their lives more than anything else (but if I have to read about Lena picking at her scars one more time, I'm going to throw up).

I will definitely still be carrying on with the series because things can only get better (I hope!) but I really missed the gripping stories the author normally provides and it just left me feeling quite deflated.
Numbers: Book 1 - Rachel Ward This review can also be found at my blog Lemonade Library

The whole premise of this book has always intrigued me - being able to see the date people are going to die and wondering if this can ever be changed or if everything is pre-destined. The topic has an extremely large scope and the book could have gone in a number of directions, and to be honest, I didn't love the one the author chose. This book has been sat in my library for a long time and I've always wanted to find the time to pick it up, but knowing it was the first in a trilogy stopped me for a while because I had so many series already to start and finish. However, it came highly recommended from one of my students who devoured all three books in a few days so I thought I'd better make time for it.

I had been harbouring expectations for this book for a long time - I wanted suspense, action and some kind of big secret. For me, Numbers didn't quite deliver. However, this review is based solely on the first book so things may change as the trilogy moves along. The ending to this book certainly made me want to pick up the second so the story could potentially lead anywhere.

To start with, I mostly liked Jem as a character. She was feisty, strong-willed and brave and she definitely pushed the story along. The first few scenes in the book have her struggling in class with a teacher she can't connect with, enduring battles with her foster mother and skipping out on school to hang out on her own. She felt like a typical 'lost' child - she feels useless and as though no one cares. I didn't like some of her behaviour though and sometimes she was downright cruel but I felt like there was more to her that was yet to be discovered. She's also struggling with the massive burden of being able to see people's death dates as soon as she makes eye contact with them. She hates this 'gift' and she spends a lot of her life putting up barriers to protect herself and distance herself from the numbers. She's never found anyone who makes her want to lower them or who makes her want to forge a friendship. Enter Spider - a fellow student in her class who, although is starting to get caught up in a criminal world as a means to make some cash, is also a very sweet, endearing and fun-loving character. Even though Jem and Spider come from very similar backgrounds and home-lives, they feel very opposite to each other. Spider softens Jem's character and acts as a cushion to her negative attitude. He's full of life and starts to help Jem realise that there's nothing wrong with having a friend to help along the way.

The rest of the book stems from the event detailed in the synopsis - Jem and Spider head into London for a day out and as they're stood looking at the prices for the London Eye Jem notices that everyone in the queue has the same number - it's today's date. As she panics and runs away, dragging Spider with her, they hear a massive bang and turn around to see that the London Eye has exploded. For me, this was when the book was starting to get exciting. It's the same with every book - you reach the point in the story that you were enticed with in the synopsis and you get excited for the adventure ahead.

However for me, the rest of the book fell flat. Without giving too much away, Jem and Spider end up running away with stolen money and a stolen car. They find out that they were caught running away from the scene in London on CCTV and now the police are on the look-out for them. This was one aspect that I did enjoy reading about as Rachel Ward raised the issue of police profiling and racial issues - whether or not the police are on the lookout for a stereotypical scapegoat to place blame on and how much this could truly change and damage someone's life.

Most of the rest of the book follows Jem and Spider making their way across the south of England to the seaside town of Weston-Super-Mare which holds a great importance for Spider as it's the only place he's ever felt truly happy.
Parts of this adventure was quite exciting to read but never reached their full potential, but you could feel the danger as the police were snapping at their heels and starting to catch-up with them. The romance added a welcome layer to the story, mainly because it was something different to them running away. It was pretty strange and awkward but it felt genuine. However, I felt a cheated. I wanted the amazing premise of the book to feel like something more than two teenagers sleeping rough and rationing a packet of biscuits as they tried to escape. It felt like the majority of the book had nothing to do with Jem being able to see these numbers and that was the part that had made me pick the book up in the first place.

The end of the book, however, redeemed it somewhat. I can't say anything without it being a spoiler but it was pretty sad and the cliffhanger also made me really wonder where this story was going to lead and spiked my interest again. I will read the second book at some point because I really want my questions answered, however, the book has left me in two minds. If the premise grabbed you, have a read and let me know what you think too!
City of Bones  - Cassandra Clare After finishing this, I went back to look at other reviews on Goodreads and now I don't particularly know what to write in this review that hasn't already been said, or been slated. There is so much love and hate in equal measures out there for this book, I feel a bit bewildered to tell you the truth!

To start off, I made a stupid rookie mistake and perused some reviews before reading. I know not to do this on Goodreads when it comes to bestsellers, but sometimes I really cannot help myself. So, of course, I read a massive spoiler about the entire end of the book in one sentence. Damn.

Anyway, this is going to be short and sweet. I personally fell in love with this book after reading the first couple of pages and thoroughly enjoyed it the entire way through. I loved the writing, the action, the characters and the world. For me, Cassandra Clare gave just the right amount of information for me to both understand what was going on, whilst also leaving parts wrapped in mystery to be revealed later. After I finished, I felt that delicious draw to instantly crack open the second instalment and fall back into the story as though I'd never left. I feel like I've definitely found a new favourite series of mine and feel quite annoyed with myself that it's taken me this long to get around to starting it!
The Rules for Disappearing - Ashley Elston This book started too slowly for my liking, in fact, it's taken me quite a long time to make my way through it. Having said that though, it definitely picked up in the last quarter and I raced through it then to the end.

I really liked Meg, especially in her scenes with her little sister - their relationship was so sweet and genuine to read, it made me want to visit my own little sister just to give her a big hug! I also really enjoyed the romance that was interwoven with the story, it was probably my favourite part of the whole book. Her relationship with Ethan did happen rather fast, but for once I didn't care - Ethan was adorable! Damn that dimple!

On the other hand, the mystery just didn't make me feel much of anything or really have any page-turning qualities about it. Even though I raced through the end, I had already worked out the secret a while before and I just wanted to see how it would pan out in the final few pages. I did like how it was left though, with most of it tied together apart from a few strands that will lead nicely into the sequel. To be honest though, I don't know if I'll read the second book - I needed more excitement and was left disappointed after eagerly anticipating this one.

Overall, it was OK - the romance and Meg's relationship with her family made it much better, but I was expecting a thrilling mystery and didn't feel that I got it.

Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing me with a copy to review

Lemonade Library
Five Summers - Una LaMarche Five Summers was a light, easy read that brought back warm summer days on these horrible rainy days we're having at the moment in England.

Emma, Skylar, Jo and Maddie became best friends at summer camp and decided to make a pact to stay that way forever. However, when camp ended, they started to drift and found that they never really kept in touch anymore. Each chapter is a different girl and a different summer, whether it's in the past or the present - 3 years on at camp reunion. I was worried this would become confusing but LaMarche directly states which girl and which summer the chapter follows, and it was actually a really great touch as I found out more and more about each girl to explain their behaviour in the present day.

The girls' characters followed an almost set mould - there was inexperienced with boys, brainy Ivy League bound Emma; beautiful, care-free, artistic Skylar; secretive Maddie suffering from family problems back home and tomboy Jo - the camp owners daughter who always follows the rules yet needs to learn how to let go and have some fun.
Having said that though, I did enjoy reading about the girls, they seemed very genuine and acted as 'real' girls would for the most part. I never really became bored by them or thought the stereotypes went too far. I also have zero experience of summer camps here in England so for me it was a fun world to explore and it was lovely to see their friendship grow over the 5 summers they spent there.

For me, it was a bit predictable - there was no big secret reveal or anything really shocking. It just seemed to be an endearing story of a group of friends growing up together and finding ways to keep that friendship growing. It didn't totally grab me though, for me it was just OK. However, if you're looking for a light-hearted, coming of age read then it might very well be perfect for you.

Thanks to NetGalley and Razorbill for providing me with this ARC copy to review
School Spirits (School Spirits, #1) - Rachel Hawkins Confession: I haven't read the Hex Hall series yet, so Izzy is brand new to me...and I love her!

She and her mum are ass-kicking monster hunters, their whole ancestry is - it's in her blood, it's who she is, it's all she knows. They move to Ideal, Mississippi to take on a new ghost-hunting case so Izzy can basically prove her worth and her skills. Whilst there, she enrolls in high school for the first time and meets Dex, Romy and Anderson, otherwise know as Paranormal Management Society (PMS! :) hehe) and she begins her quest to stop the hauntings.

I really, really enjoyed this. It was fun, witty and the whole story and Hawkins' writing just seemed to invite you in. I loved Izzy as a character, she was so easy to read and follow along - just the right balance of attitude and warmth. I also always have a thing for characters with red hair (I wonder why...!) and Izzy really didn't disappoint. She was perfectly complimented by Romy, Anderson and Dex, and they seemed like a genuinely nice group of friends. Dex was the perfect leading man for the story - unconventional yet full of heart and bravery. He came across so sweet and brought out this side in Izzy that she didn't really ever show to anyone else - even when they were just hanging out, the banter was brilliant!

I also loved the scenes with Torin - so, so funny! His was a really unusual premise (being trapped in a mirror and all) and one that added a extra depth to the story. I hope we find out a lot more about him in the next book!

Speaking of the next book...I wish I didn't have to wait! I'm itching to know what's going to happen next, especially after the ending. Overall, School Spirits was very entertaining with exactly the right balance of mystery, romance, family and friendship. All the characters provided their own special part to the story and had me hooked right from the beginning.

Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Hyperion for providing me with a copy to review truthfully
Glass Houses  - Rachel Caine OK, I went into this expecting to be bored (vampires just aren't my thing unless it's Bill Compton whispering 'Sooooookie' - and definitely the TV version only!) but I actually adored it. I've read a lot of the reviews and I see where a lot of people are coming from, but I just felt a lot of love for this. I was completely drawn into the world of Morganville from the very start and read the book in more or less one sitting. In fact, I even passed up watching Pitch Perfect for my second ever time to read this (well, I may have sneaked into the lounge a couple of times…)

For me, it was the drama I think. There was always something happening to put me right on the edge of my seat turning the pages like a maniac. I haven't read a book like that in so long, even when I love a book I can quite often leave it for a few hours and come back later. This just wasn't an option for me with this book! I'm actually annoyed with myself that I didn't find it sooner and it actually took one of my students begging her mum to let me borrow it and then thrusting it into my hands and not letting me say no. Her perseverance is my massive gain.

Character wise, I loved Claire and her friends. The fact that she was only 16 was portrayed well as although she showed a lot of strength, she was also still very naive and often thoughtless to her own danger in the way 16 year olds often are (well, I was anyway!). I don't want to reveal too much about Michael, Shane and Eve just because their development through the book was a fantastic journey for me and I set off on it not knowing anything about them either.

Caine's writing was also a very pleasant surprise. I've read too many YA novels where the writing comes off preachy and dumbed-down, but her writing was full of such humour, drama and warmth that I didn’t find it patronising at all.

Overall, a completely entertaining, fast-paced novel that I literally cannot stop grinning about or thinking about. It doesn't really get much better than that!
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You  - Ally Carter I really love books like this - set in high schools with lots of girly drama that are easy and fun to read. The fact that the Gallagher Academy is a school for spies just drew me in further. I mean, I think I dreamed of being a spy for much of my childhood - this would have been a dream come true!

On the whole, the book lived up to what I was expecting. Cammie Morgan has all the promise to become a fantastic spy, along with her friends, but the fact that she had no idea what to do when it came to boys made her very endearing. Enter Macey who knows what she's talking about (and the scenes where they were dissecting Josh's 'evidence' were often hilarious) - who is an amazing character to read and I really hope to see much more of her in the subsequent books. Of course, all the characters you meet at the Gallagher Academy really make the book work, they move the story along and made the story seem much more alive. Additionally, the actual building is something I really want to explore more too. What is on CoveOps Level 2? Where do all the secret passages lead? It feels like I have a large world laid out in front of me and I'm only allowed to see around a couple of corners and doors at the moment - I'm itching to know more!

However, I really wanted the relationship between Cammie and Josh to have had more page space. They seemed to go from mild flirtations and secretive meetings to a fully-fledged serious couple in love. The ending had me wanting to grab the next book, so I do feel invested in them but it was a shame I didn't really feel their romance in this book. The complications of living a secret life whilst trying to have a boyfriend who knew nothing about you never seemed that taxing but maybe I'm getting too ahead of myself and need to read the other books!

Overall though, it was a really fun read, quite cute but equally entertaining. I'll definitely recommend it to people looking for something to escape easily into and I've definitely enjoyed it as much as my students (maybe even more!)
True - Erin McCarthy Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Group/NAL Signet Romance for sending me this ARC to review truthfully

True completely had me hooked from page one, and to tell you the truth, I was surprised. Pleasantly surprised. I had been expecting the same old tale of girl meets damaged boy and although I realise this is the exact premise of this book, it still felt fresh, exciting and dramatic.

The sub-stories of Kylie, Jess and Nathan added a really enjoyable depth to the story, I loved Kylie's interactions with Rory, so sweet! I loved how the group of friends all stuck by each other and their friendships felt grounded and real. I can't wait to find out more about Jess in McCarthy's second book! Of course, the strand of the story involving Tyler and his brothers made the book for me. The snippets of Tyler's life were heartbreaking, and his relationship with his brothers was so touching and felt so genuine. I also really loved reading about Rory's dad and Susan, even though they appeared for short bursts at a time, they definitely made me smile.

Rory and Tyler were beautiful together, the more I read the more I rooted for them. I loved finding small bits out about them both, things that explained who they were and why they acted certain ways. I came away feeling warm, but I feel like I really need to know more about what happens after the end of the book. I really hope we can revisit them later!!

The only gripes I had was Grant and his part in the book from the start - it felt a bit added on and was never really explored, I felt it maybe could have been cut out. I also really don't like the fact that Tyler smokes so much, argh - the smell Rory must have to deal with, yuck!

Overall though, I loved the book and would definitely recommend it. I hope McCarthy come back with more very soon!
The Edge of Reason - Helen Fielding Hilarious as always! So many extra funny moments in the book than the film, the Colin Firth interview for one (hah!). Ahhhhh, could read it all again and laugh all over again. Bridget Jones - I will never get tired of you and your antics!
The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides Haunting, disturbing and yet subtle - this book was a remarkable read. Eugenides' dreamlike prose made this harrowing tale almost magical, I haven't read a book like it for a long, long time.

The fact that it's interspersed with dark humour made me love it even more. The characters are completely engaging without much use of dialogue for communication, something which I rarely see in books but love (and I think the scene where the Lisbon girls and the boys play records for each other is a prime example of this - beautiful.)

I think this is quite a 'Marmite' novel and I understand why, but for me it felt very special, like I was being given a unique gift that I should treasure forever. I know this one will be staying with me.
The Arcade: Episode 2, February, The Lingerie Store - Kitty Charles This was quite a bit shorter than the first, but equally enjoyable. I started off really disliking Eden but by the end had come round to see all was not as it had first seemed. A couple of things griped me though, the editing on this one didn't seem as good and I couldn't really picture Eden in my head. I'm not sure why, there was quite a bit of description about her but I don't think I could place her age and body shape properly in my imagination. I'd had a certain image set from the first book but this one changed it into something I couldn't pin down. Not an awful thing, but something that frustrated me a bit.

Overall though, a great second installment in the serial! Absolutely adore Joan too, looking forward to seeing more from her!
Vain (The Seven Deadly Series #1) - Fisher Amelie I really wanted to like this book. I thought it had so much potential and I'd been so excited to read it but it just fell a bit too flat for me.

I hadn't read any reviews before starting it, so I was unaware about the Uganda part of the plot. Although I enjoyed this strand, I felt like I really didn't know enough about Sophie's past life and wanted to spend more time there before being taken away from it. I was looking forward to reading about a girl I was meant to hate and the beginning of the book hooked me. Yes, I hated her and I enjoyed hating her!

All of a sudden, she's in Africa and everything is happening too fast. Her attitude changes so suddenly that I just couldn't believe it. This was a girl who self-professed that she was a cruel, manipulative, vindictive bitch and now she's almost immediately selfless. I loved Ian's character and really wished the author had given us more of an insight into him, but I couldn't see how he fell so fast for Sophie. I just felt the plot was too disjointed and under-developed to ensure the story worked like it could have done.

I also hate unedited/under-edited work. I'm paying money to read this, so at the very least it should have correct spellings and grammar! There also seemed to be so many missing words or ends to sentences that it started to really ruin the reading experience for me. I often found myself re-reading sentences 2 or 3 times trying to make sense of them and ending up just skipping them.

As I said before, I did enjoy the side of the story set in Uganda. It was a different twist and I loved the fast-pace of the action scenes. It was very touching to read about the orphans and the workers at the orphanage, I think the author explored that side really well. However, this was just not enough to redeem the book for me. I never felt anything for Sophie even though she was meant to be a changed young-woman and as for the ending?! Did the author have a pressing deadline and needed one Disney 'wrap it all up in a cute package and tie with a bow' end paragraph? Oh, and her dad needs a slap. Sophie just accepts all the crap from her past after what he says to her at the end, which is a load of BS. It all just felt so rushed and unreal.

I'm aware that this has really good ratings and that by not enjoying it I'm in a minority, but overall I was sadly disappointed and I wouldn't recommend it.
The Arcade: Episode 1, January, The Vintage Boutique - Kitty Charles

I can't wait to read the next instalment! Really great first book, very surprising and I'm already fascinated. I'm really excited to learn more about all the different shops and owners in The Arcade and think this is a lovely way to write a book, makes me feel like I've stepped back in time :)
Hand For A Hand (Di Gilchrist) - Frank Muir,  T.F. Muir

Really, really enjoyed this. Thrilling, surprising and full of suspense, it kept me turning the pages quickly. The plot was delivered in a very clever way and even as I thought I knew what was going on, I really hadn't even scratched the surface. Enjoyed this even more than the first one and I'm sure I will be reading the third one very soon.
Monday to Friday Man - Alice Peterson My to-read pile is far too big to waste time on this.

I got to page 74 and I couldn't read anymore! I was after a light, easy read after reading a few heavy going books and found this on my Kindle - shouldn't have bothered.

*I apologise in advance, but I needed to get this rant out!*

For starters, Gilly is SO shallow, self-obsessed, irritating and just a very unlikeable character. I didn't care about her at all. In the first few pages she moans about having to take a packed lunch into work instead of eating out to save cash, yet she somehow manages to go out 'every weekened' with her best friend, and then describes how she goes out for meals and orders-in a lot. What?! She's earning just above minimum wage after losing her last job, yet she still manages all this and the mortgage on her 2 bed HOUSE in London. No, no, no, no.

The characters seem so two-dimensional, they're so under-developed. When the reader meets the dog walking club for the first time, the scene is a disaster. The writer can't seem to settle on how to write the scene so then proceeds to describe random parts of each character and then place the sentences in places that make no sense.

I think the worst thing for me was when Gilly had to stifle a laugh at the poor old man who was after something in the shop. Who does she think she is? All I could picture was some helpless man and a snotty, rude sales assistant. I wanted to reach into the book and help him myself and then slap Gilly in the face.

ALSO, what the hell is the Dorset thing about? If the author was going there, it really needed to be developed further or just cut it out altogether. Not have Gilly suddenly come back and then state that 'I'm not good at doing anything spontaneously. I err on the cautious side'. Really!?

Just so much of the book didn't make sense. So choppy. She obviously likes Guy and they have a cute moment on the zebra crossing where they decide to go for a drink but you hear nothing of it. The next paragraph she's sat at her Dad's kitchen table, which is by Regent's Park didn't you know? Oh, I'm sure you told us that already! Couple of pages later and Guy is someone she tells everything to, including things she never told her ex-fiance (and is it just me, or does she not seem that upset about that!?).

The exact moment I stopped was when she randomly bumps into Rita, the ex-mayor who feeds squirrels (?!) who tells Guy to stop being a potty mouth. Too random.

There were so many other things, but I think it's quite obvious that it annoyed me! A book has never frustrated me more. I hate not finishing books, I usually carry on even when I don't like it, but I hated this passionately, it was too much to handle!