The Name of the Star (#1) by Maureen Johnson

Published: 29th September 2011
Goodreads badgePublisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 372
Format: Book
Genre: Young Adult
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Jack the Ripper is back, and he’s coming for Rory next….

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him – the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target…unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables.

Upon finishing this book I was experiencing a myriad of emotions and feelings that the first draft of this review was, for the majority, unhelpful gushing and exuberant praise. I was on a high of delight and amazement at what I had just read. Nothing wrong with that, but rather unhelpful for a review.

I cannot ignore though that a full 330 words were devoted entirely to going on about just how wonderful this book was. I experienced so many feelings and emotions throughout this book, especially during the final chapters, that I was on the edge of my seat and unsure where it could possibly lead, excited and impatient and nervous of what was going to happen.

I have been a long time fan of Johnson through her guest vlogging, her books, and following her hilarity on Twitter, but only recently have I been able to snag a copy of her Shades of London series which I have been dying to read for years. And can I just say I am so glad I finally got to read this because it is the greatest book ever! It is such a Maureen Johnson book as well. Her personality and own quirkiness shine off the pages and through her characters.

I strongly recommend you read this book, it really is all kinds of amazing. It’s a Jack the Ripper story like no other and it sucks you in and holds you while it simultaneously messes with your mind and makes you amazed and wide-eyed at the cleverness of it all.

The story follows Rory, a girl from southern USA who is sent to boarding school in London. She soon becomes embroiled in a series of murders eerily similar to that of Jack the Ripper. From there it becomes a story about murder and mystery, with a unique and clever paranormal element as well. Johnson’s writing is light and funny but also manages to be delightfully creepy in all the best ways.

The characters are unique and have their own stories to tell. I liked Rory’s charm in that she was a bit odd but she was who she was and wasn’t ashamed. I loved the differences between the UK and the US and the cultural clashes that are evident. I also loved that the story was slowly revealed. I revelled in the shocks, the surprises, and the delights. I made so many gasps and various other noises while I read this I’m sure people nearby were looking at me weird.

Other characters like Jerome and Stephen are wonderful. Jerome, in particular, is all kinds of adorable and while it took some time to warm to Rory, I loved Jerome immediately. I liked each character’s quirky nature and that they brought their own strengths to any situation. There is a wonderful sense of UK boarding school culture as well as a nice look at the streets of London through the eyes of a newcomer as well as its citizens. You get a taste of the culture and the mystery the old city has to offer and it is easy to fall under the spell through Rory and her own fascination.

When you read this book I suggest you keep the second in the series nearby because the moment you finish that last page you will want to dive into the next book right away. It is a wonderful story and it is a ghost story like no other.

You can purchase The Name of the Star via the following

Wordery | Book Depository | Fishpond

Dymocks | Amazon USA | Author Website

Barnes and Noble | Readings | Amazon Aust

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Moonstruck by Nikki Rae

Published: 30 November 2017Goodreads badge
Publisher:
Self Published
Pages: 315
Format: ebook
Genre: Paranormal
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Myles Lott left this town ten years ago. He never wanted to come back unless he had to. Now he has to. Sophie Jean, the girl he was supposed to protect from monsters of his world, has finally grown up. She’s familiar with monsters, just not vampires like him. Hers are harder to defeat; they’re in her own mind. Myles has returned to protect her and nothing more, but his feelings for Sophie develop quicker than he ever could have imagined. Torn between their worlds, Myles must fight for the girl he’s loved all along without causing any more damage. Unfortunately, a past enemy has other plans.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author

I read Sunshine year ago when Rae first released it, so reading Moonstruck it was easy to see elements of Sunshine in there. But having said that, it isn’t the same story. Retelling Sunshine from the perspective of Myles has opened up the story to have new insight and allow readers to see the characters they know in a new light. With this rewrite Rae opens us up to Myles’ life, away from Sophie’s, but also his thoughts and emotions surrounding her to be told too.

Even when he is with Sophie, being shown his intentions and justifications adds another element. It was interesting reading the story from a new perspective; even the scenes that were familiar had a different feel about them because we were inside Myles’ head and not Sophie’s. Seeing Sophie’s life from the outside changes her character a lot. Having gotten to know her from Sunshine, it was interesting not having the full emotional thought and feelings from her, instead only seeing what Myles’ sees and what she allows him to see. Who she is alters slightly as we are shown her through new eyes. I think I would see her differently if I didn’t already know her story. It would be interesting if you read this without having read Sophie’s POV how it would read differently.

It didn’t feel like I was rereading the original story, and yet it was comfortable and familiar at the same time, with a few new surprises as we saw more of Myles’ life. What I also loved, even though it was brief, was seeing Jade and Stevie again. Since this wasn’t Sophie’s POV we don’t see the awesome sibling relationship between her and Jade, but just having them there reminded me of how much I love them. Even when the story isn’t about them I will latch onto them.

Rae has done a great job in keeping the same story structure while adding new and interesting scenes, filling in the gaps as it were when Myles is away from Sophie. Moonstruck is a story that can easily stand alone, it isn’t just a switch of POV of Sunshine, Rae makes it its own story and she does so very well.

You can purchase Moonstruck via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

The Ceruleans Print Party + Giveaway

The Ceruleans: mere mortals infused with power over life and death.

Five books; one question: If the might of the heavens were in your hands, would you be sinner or saint?

The Ceruleans is a fantastic YA series from Megan Tayte with a fantasy and paranormal element that captures your attention early on. There are now five books in the series, the last one released in February this year. The series follows Scarlett Blake, a teenager seemingly haunted by death, and is filled with serious questions about life and death, but is also filled with humour and fun and wonderful friendships.

In honour of the series being released in print, and with amazing revamped covers, Megan is offering a chance to win the entire series! It’s very hard to insist you must read The Ceruleans when I have only published one review for the series, but I’ve read more and they are addictive and amazing, and all kinds of wonderful. Plus, with a chance to win all five books, this is the best time to dive into the series (total pun intended).

The giveaway has been running since the start of June, but work, illness, and life has stopped me making this post sooner, but there are still ten days to get in your entries and make sure you’re in with a chance to win these incredible books. I have plans to post reviews of them all to complete my list, but for now, I can only ask you trust me when I say you should read these books.

To find out about the series check out Goodreads and discover these amazing books!

My review of book one, Death Wish

Ceruleans poster

Giveaway

To go in the draw head to the Rafflecopter page and complete the form.

 

Buy links

Amazon UK

Amazon Aust

Amazon

Megan Tayte bio

Megan TayteOnce upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess fireman. ‘Write, Megan,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did. Thirty-odd years later, Megan is a professional writer and published author by day, and an indie novelist by night. Her fiction – young adult romance with soul – recently earned her the SPR’s Independent Woman Author of the Year award. Megan grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in the village of Standish, Greater Manchester. She lives with her husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; her son, a budding artist with the soul of a palaeontologist; and her baby daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her walking someplace green, reading by the fire, or creating carnage in the kitchen as she pursues her impossible dream: of baking something edible.

 

You can find Megan online at:

Website | Goodreads

Facebook | Twitter

Instagram

 

Yellow by Megan Jacobson

Published: 1st February 2016Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Penguin Teen Australia
Pages: 259
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

If fourteen-year-old Kirra is having a mid-life crisis now, then it doesn’t bode well for her life expectancy. Her so-called friends bully her, whatever semblance of a mother she had has been drowned at the bottom of a gin bottle ever since her dad left them for another woman, and now a teenage ghost is speaking to her through a broken phone booth. Kirra and the ghost make a pact. She’ll prove who murdered him almost twenty years ago if he does three things for her. He makes her popular, he gets her parents back together, and he doesn’t haunt her. Things aren’t so simple however, and Kirra realises that people can be haunted in more ways than one.

To quote a line from an incredibly wise author by the name of Megan Jacobson, “this is the kind of book that makes you stop and just rest the pages on your chest from the truth of it”. Yellow is a brilliant, emotionally charged book that reveals so much about the various struggles in people’s lives. There is an incredible amount of beauty and honesty and raw strength in this story; Jacobson captures so much from so many angles and connects them together into this life of a fourteen-year-old.

Kirra Barley is my hero. I love her so much, she speaks to me on so many levels and she is so much braver and stronger than she could ever give herself credit for. I am so fiercely proud of her and everything she does, even the bad stuff. She is shy but she has dreams of being popular. Despite continually being berated and bullied by her so called friends, she is always out to impress them, always wanting to fit in. She doesn’t revel in being the outsider, she wants friends, she needs someone to talk to and it crushes you when she doesn’t get it.

Kirra’s so desperate to have friends she jumps at the chance to help a ghost she isn’t entirely sure is real, and wants him to make her popular and fix her family. What’s fantastic about this is that Jacobson doesn’t let the paranormal aspect take over from this real story, yet in a way Boogie’s ghost still does. Kirra’s efforts to help him takes her down certain paths, some good some not, and it makes you realise how desperate she has become and how unable she is to cope with what’s happening around her.

As much as you hate some of these characters and how much they frustrate and anger you, there is no denying how fantastic they are. They’re all as complex and well developed as each other and even with the short attention given to a few of them, there are clever ways Jacobson reveals who they are deep down.

The emotions definitely begin early on and stay in varying degrees until the final page. Yellow grabs onto your heart and will take it on a tough and brutal journey filled with pain and surprises and twists that you will not believe. It’s down to earth despite the fact there’s a ghost in a phone box, and it’s filled with characters who have flaws and failings and while you can’t forgive everything, it’s evident some of them are doing the best they can.

The best way to describe this story is a lot of little heartbreaks joined together, but as Jacobson made me realise, it also has lots of bits of glue and band-aids. For every moment you mourn for Kirra (there’s no pity it’s straight up mourning), there is another part that lifts your spirits and makes things ok. This perfect balance is what makes this story work. It’s not a constant problem/solution type story, but when you see Kirra’s world crush her, there’s a moment that makes you glad she has some light.

It isn’t all heartache and pain I promise, there are light-hearted moments and a gripping plot that pulls you along and makes you become invested in this town and its people. But Jacobson doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities either, and together with these wonderful moments a story emerges that astounds and amazes. This is definitely a story that stays with you long after you’ve finished.

You can purchase Yellow via the following

Booktopia | Amazon Aust

Book Depository | QBD

AmazonDymocks

Readings | Publisher

AWW16

Almost Dead by Kaz Delaney

Published: 1st January 2014Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Allen & Unwin
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Genre: Young Adult/Paranormal Romance
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

A glitzy whodunit set amongst the Gold Coast elite and a hilarious romance between Macey Pentecost, the privileged teenager with a social conscience who just happens to see ghosts, and the good-looking surf champion Finn.

Macey’s life has been turned upside down. Her mother has left, her father is absent and her two best friends (her brother Seth and his girlfriend Willow) are MIA. On top of that Macey is being visited by ghosts who need her help to ‘move on’. But as wild as all that sounds, it’s all under Macey’s control until a rakish, good-looking spirit called Nick turns up … in her bedroom!

Nick’s a spirit with spirit who insists he’s not dead, he’s astral travelling and has a message for Macey: someone is out to get her. Macey’s biting wit has got her in trouble before, so she’s not surprised but when the threatening notes start turning up, she’s seriously shaken. Does someone want her dead?

It’s all rather disturbing but she’s finding it hard to focus on who could mean her harm with the annoyingly handsome surf god Finn turning up at the most inopportune times and a father with a rather large surprise of his own.

Is it a case of bad timing? Or are these things somehow connected? And if they are, what on earth should she wear when she’s solving the mystery?

Even at 400 pages I flew through this book. I started at maybe 11pm and by 3:30 am I was done. I kept telling myself I should stop but then I convince myself to read some more and then all of a sudden I’d read another 40 pages and I was telling myself to stop again. And so the cycle continued until 3:30 when I finished the final page.

There is a perfect balance between the paranormal, the mystery, and the every day, and Kaz’s writing is so inviting that you want to keep turning the page. Her words draw you in and even closing the book for sleep is unthinkable because you don’t want to leave the story. Your curiosity overrules sleep, and who could sleep anyway when such an enthralling tale is being told!

A companion book to Dead, Actually, this time it’s Macey’s story that gets told. What I loved about this was that it was a completely new story but didn’t forget what had come before it. It is impossible to compare the two because they both have very different mysteries with different focuses, but the similarities and same surroundings is a comfortable familiarity. Willow and Seth are not forgotten, and there are throwbacks and references to the other book, but not so much that it tries to make you connect the two and see it as a sequel. Macey’s story is her own and Willow’s hers, and I loved that Kaz gave them both stories that suited them.

There are so many drawcards about this book, not only the creative paranormal aspect, but the mystery, the drama, and the realities of life that all mix together. It is easy to love the amazing events that play out around Nick as well as Macey’s newly discovered gift, not to mention the surprising home life she had found herself living in. Kaz’s portrayal of the stresses and confusion in Macey’s life is divine, as well as managing to express beautifully how overwhelmed and out of her depth she becomes. It’s wonderful.

Macey and Finn’s relationship is cheeky and adorable. He is a wonderful friend, loyal and protective, and seeing Macey fight her feelings for him reveals more of who she is and why. Everything connects and has consequences with this story and moments fit together and react off each other with style and creativity. This is just one of the many things that interact and connect, sometimes you don’t even realise just how connected things are until the last moment.

The mystery side definitely needs mentioning because the way Kaz plays it out you find yourself suspecting even the most innocent of people. There are hints and clues, and no clear motive which means anyone could be the culprit. With so much else happening in Macey’s life, having someone stalk her is another thing she has to worry about, and seeing it overlap with her other problems makes the story more intense and enthralling.

This multifaceted story has something for everyone’s tastes: There are great characters to fall in love with and great friendships to admire, there’s a great YA story, a thrilling mystery, some excellent paranormal, a budding romance, family drama, self discovery and acceptance, and an ending that’s beautiful – all wrapped up in a thrilling 400 pages.

You can purchase Almost Dead via the following

Dymocks | Kindle | Booktopia

iTunes | Publisher

Amazon Aust | QBD

AWW16

 

 

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