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Queen of Contemporary

I run a YA and Teen book blog but do review other things, too. My blog, Queen of Contemporary, has been running since April 2012.

Currently reading

Agnes Grey
Angeline Goreau, Anne Brontë
The Testing
Joelle Charbonneau
Kim Curran
The Bone Dragon
Alexia Casale
All the Truth That's in Me - Julie Berry All the Truth That’s in Me was a captivating and original novel. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of Berry’s novels after reading this.All the Truth That’s in Me is a historical novel about a girl called Judith who is left with no tongue after an accident that left her best friend dead and Judith missing for two years. Unable to tell about what happened to her, Judith lives as the town’s pariah. Nobody talks to her and her only comfort is in a boy called Lucas who she secretly watches. When events drag up the past, will the truth finally come out?Although you may think it’s hard to get to know a character who doesn’t talk, I felt immensely sympathetic towards Judith. I would hate to be treated as an outcast like she was. We got to know her through flashbacks of her life before the abduction and in the way the novel is written. There was this innocence to her that made me want to jump in to the novel and give her a hug. She hadn’t had any love in her life for a long time and had faced horrible prejudice.There’s something about close-knit communities that makes me love a book even more. When I read something like this, I realise how important a good setting is. Berry has created a world that I want to live in. The town’s people were quite hard off, yes, but they lived in such a simplistic way. They didn’t have to worry about their cars breaking down or that their WiFi wasn’t fast enough. It was living day by day and taking things as they came. We could really take note of how they lived now.Written in second person as a note to Lucas, something that I loved, we grow to know both Judith and Lucas. The characterisation was done really well, not only with the main character, but all of the secondary characters, too. I loved Maria and Judith’s brother, although her mother deserved a good slap sometimes.In terms of the mystery, it was a little predictable. That said, some things were revealed that left me gasping in shock and it did keep me on the edge of my seat. I finished it really quickly- it’s not a long book, by any means- and was satisfied by the pacing and effect.I would highly recommend this, especially if you want something a bit different to read. I loved it and would happily read it again. Berry has created a thrilling tale of romance, mystery and the story of girl that doesn’t belong.
United We Spy  - Ally Carter You can read more of my reviews at Queen of ContemporaryI’ve loved Carter’s books since before I started blogging, when I didn’t really know what I was picking up. I’d go into a bookshop and pick up anything I liked the look of with no preconceptions or presumptions. I didn’t know of the hype surrounding these books until I started seeing them pop up wherever I went and then, when I finally became a part of the blogosphere, I realised that these books have a special quality that people gobble up in handfuls.United We Spy is the last book in the Gallagher Girls series and I was very worried about reading it beforehand. How could I say goodbye to this series that I have loved so dearly? The events of the last book meant that I knew this was bound to be dramatic, but I’d forgotten just how action-packed these books are.In United We Spy, we see the familiar array of characters embark on their last semester at the Gallagher Academy, which, I must tell you, made me feel very nostalgic! It seems like yesterday I was reading my way through the first book, and then the second and third and fourth and fifth. I felt all the emotions when reading this. Even after finishing, I’m still clinging on to the world fiercely. It’s definitely not a series I’m going to forget in a hurry.Cammie still had to overcome the issues that she was left to face after the events of the last book and we see her develop even more in this one. She has to deal with some really hard stuff and is thrown into lots of difficult situations but it seems like she always comes out stronger.I really loved seeing Bex, Liz and Macey again. Liz was as nerdy as ever but also has to face her own demons, as do Bex and Macey. The girls are all so loyal to each other which is very admirable. I’d love to be friends with them!United We Spy was a brilliant conclusion to a much-loved series and I’m so sad that I won’t be anticipating another book in this series any more. At least we have the Heist Society novels to keep us busy!

Rose Under Fire

Rose Under Fire - Elizabeth Wein I thought Code Name Verity was hard-hitting, but Rose Under Fire was painful in comparison. The companion novel to the award-winning success of Code Name Verity was just as good and maybe even more emotional.Set in part in the brutal concentration camp of Ravensbrück, Rose Under Fire follows the life of American pilot and recreational poet Rose Justice.I really liked Rose and found her story a very sad one indeed. The one problem I did have with her was that she wasn’t as easy to connect to and invest in as the main characters of Code Name Verity and I think this was because we got to see a lot of their history and background.The treatment that Rose received whilst in Ravensbrück was appalling and we only got to see her side of things. To think of the things that other people had to face is just awful to think about. The rabbits, especially. It made me feel sick to think of the things that they’d been through.Rose Under Fire was written beautifully. I cannot fault Wein’s ability to draw me in and make me unable to put her books down. This was glued to my hand and I longed to be reading it when I wasn’t.I can’t wait to see what’s next from Wein because this really was a treasure to read. Highly recommended!
Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend - Louise Rozett I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book, although I really did enjoy it when I read it back in January. The contemporary kick that I was in then actually inspired my blog name. I was a little apprehensive to start the sequel, but I’m so glad I did and can’t believe I left it so long to pick this one up because it was so much better than Confessions of an Angry Girl.Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend was fast paced and jam packed with drama, humour and some amazing characters. It starts a little bit later from where the first book ended and there’s action from the first few sentences.Rose has really matured since the first book and she goes on such a journey in this one. I just wanted to applaud her throughout because it felt like she was finally taking control of her life. I can really sympathise with her because it seemed like she was thrown all of these obstacles but she overcame them really easily. I love character progression so much and Rose grew so much during Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend. She’s very admirable!All the secondary characters were present and I found that I loved them even more the second time around. Especially Angelo. I really love him…Regina was back with her usual bitchiness but we also see her develop and her back story is revealed. I actually felt pretty sorry for her in the end. Tracy, Rose’s best friend, also comes into this novel as bright and vibrant as she was in the first, but this time she’s redeveloped herself and shed her old skin. She also has a brilliant idea that I really loved but won’t write here because the awesomeness will probably blow up the computer page…There was a lot of swooning in the form of Jamie Forta who is just *sigh* I love his character and we get to see so much of him, it seems, in this novel. I can see why Regina and Rose are STILL having issues over him! He’s not the typical guy that you see in some YA novels with no substance, but instead has his own history and traits.The plot carries on from the first novel but more problems crop up and more plotlines are brought in. The plot doesn’t drag on at all and I couldn’t put this book down. I raced through it in a morning and wanted more afterward. I need the third novel NOW! *whines*I LOVED Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend and can’t wait until the next book. This really surprised me and I’m going to be recommending this a lot now.
All Our Yesterdays - Cristin Terrill All Our Yesterdays is a thrilling take on the time travel novels that are becoming increasingly popular, especially with programmes like Doctor Who being watched by millions across the world. Hey, I was even on the bandwagon once. I’m not a huge fan of these types of novels, though, so I was very wary to begin with. I’ve never really felt love towards them and I’d rather avoid them than sit through one, gritting my teeth the whole time. Yet, there was something about All Our Yesterdays that captivated me and made me want to read on. Maybe I can find something to like about this genre after all…The thing that sets All Our Yesterdays apart from other novels is that it’s very much scientific based. This is no magical telling of people who disappear to another time. I must admit that I’m an all-round nerd (maths being the exception) and so I loved reading the scientific references and gave a smug smile every time I understood something. These references help explain the idea behind the time travel and I preferred this to the “magic” that happens in a lot of them.I really liked how the two different timelines came together and connected. It made the novel so much easier to understand and follow. This could have been so confusing but Terril added enough information, without info dumping, I must add, so that the reader was able to understand how the novel worked and how the characters thought.I preferred Em’s timeline to Marina’s; the characters were more mature and had a purpose whereas Marina’s timeline was simply there to fulfil the plot. This isn’t something that annoyed me though, because it was simply a fact.Em and Finn were so driven and intent. It was hard not to like them because their characterisation was written perfectly. I loved how we found out more and more about their lives as the novel went on, through both their eyes and Marina’s. Their lives were believable and so full of emotion. It was interesting to see how much the characters had grown up from one timeline to the other and how each event changed the other person.Marina was a bit of a spoiled brat but as the novel progresses we see her come into her own and develop. At the end of the novel, I found that I had come to really admire her. If there was more characterisation on her part to start with, I would have liked her a lot more. Finn in this timeline hadn’t really changed but this was something that I really liked because it showed us who he was as a person and offered a comforting familiarity.I think the secondary characters in Em’s timeline needed a bit more attention paid to them. The Doctor especially, because I didn’t really clue on as to who he was until far later in the book and I still didn’t understand who some of the people were then.I felt that the ending was a bit rushed and messy. I wanted something a bit more because there’s fast paced and then there is so fast that you don’t really understand what’s going on. It was okay, but just so confusing.I really enjoyed All Our Yesterdays and am looking forward to seeing what’s to come of Terril.
The Infinite Moment of Us - Lauren Myracle You can read more of my reviews at Queen of ContemporaryIt really does pain me to write this review because I was so hopeful that this book would be something special and sweet. Sadly, I was very disappointed and I couldn’t finish the book. For that reason, my review will only reflect the 33% of the book that I did read.The Infinite Moment of Us is about a girl called Wren whose life is commanded by her parents. Tell her to jump off a cliff, and she’ll go do it. Wren was so infuriating and I just wanted to shake her so much and tell her to grow a pair. She did everything to please her parents and it was like her life revolved around theirs and vice versa. To be fair, I can see why she was so scared by them because when one thing happens in the book they end up saying they’re disappointed in her and tell her she’s throwing her life away. For people who are supposedly looking out for their daughter’s welfare, they sure are pushing her away.Charlie is the male protagonist and was even more pathetic than Wren. He declared his love for her when they’d only had a few encounters and weren’t even going out. Yes, there were parts of his life that made me feel sorry for him, but compared to a lot of other people in similar situations, he was extremely lucky. He had a loving home and people who cared about him. The romance in this book was hinted at from the first chapter which led on to something that felt like insta-love. The note at the start of the book hints at a slow romance that carefully builds up but we have Wren and Charlie practically agreeing to marry each other not even halfway through the book. None of it felt real and this is one of the things that disappointed me the most because a great romance was promised.The plot felt unrealistic, the dialogue felt forced and I was left pulling my hair out on numerous occasions. I felt like huge chunks of writing were put in just for the sake of it and I must have annotated five billion times that things weren’t even necessary. The cover is so gorgeous and I’d definitely buy this if I saw this in a bookshop. Sadly, this is one of the only things that I liked about the book and I wish the book reflected the cover more. The Infinite Moment of Us was such a cringy and frustrating novel. I doubt I’ll be reading anything else by this author in the future. It’s really saddened me that I didn’t like it.
Changeling - Philippa Gregory You can read more of my reviews at Queen of ContemporaryI really wanted to love this novel, but sadly didn’t. As a major fan of all things historical fiction, I had very high hopes because Gregory is a bestselling author here in the UK and her books have even been made into TV programmes and films. So, this is actually quite a sad review to write.Before I get on to the reasons why I didn’t like this book, I need to talk about the positive things. The attention to detail was brilliant and I thought the settings were described well so that it was easy to picture where the book was taking place. It was easy to tell that a lot of research had taken place beforehand.I liked the characters, but they were really bad at interacting with each other. The dialogue felt forced and I felt like screaming in frustration regularly. Isolde was probably the most understandable character, and there wasn’t a lot of competition.Both the cover and summary are hugely misleading. Both promise a romantic aspect that sounds amazing but there was no romance in this book at all. For someone like me who lives for these moments in books, it was a major let down.When you’re reading a book you should be able to feel that what you’re reading is true and you’re witnessing the events but this didn’t happen in Changeling. Everything felt a bit forced and I found a lot of the plot lines very unrealistic.I didn’t enjoy this book at all and I’m so sad about that fact because I really wanted to like it. I’m going to try and read one of Gregory’s adult novels to see if I like one of them better but I don’t think I’ll be reading the rest in this series.
Heart-Shaped Bruise - Tanya Byrne You can read more of my reviews at Queen of ContemporaryI haven’t read many crime/mystery novels before and so this was a bit of an experiment for me. I’m very pleased to say that I’m most likely going to be reading more novels in the genre because I loved Heart-Shaped Bruise.Heart-Shaped Bruise is about a girl called Emily who is in a Young Offenders Institution and has started a record of her days in the Institution. As the novel goes on, she reflects on how she ended up in the Institution and the reader can begin to place all the little pieces together to create the big picture.I thought the pacing of this novel was perfect; it couldn’t have been written any better than it was. In this type of book, I think pacing is important but it wasn’t too fast or too slow- just right!Our main character, Emily, is a very strange character to read about. Even though I knew she had done a terrible thing, I still liked her and found that I wanted to read more about her and read the little anecdotes about her former life. There is just the right balance of past and present written. The plot was thrilling and I was sat on the edge of my seat whilst reading the majority of the book. It was so easy to get inside Emily’s head and I did sympathise with her an awful lot- was it really her fault that she was born into this world and this life?I’m definitely going to be reading Follow Me Down which is Byrne’s latest novel. She’s definitely an author that I’ll read again and again.
The Bone Season - Samantha Shannon When I first started The Bone Season, we had a rocky relationship. Until I was about twenty pages in, I absolutely loathed it. There was a huge info dump and I found it so confusing to keep up with all the terms and I wasn’t sure how I’d manage to read through it all. Thankfully, things picked up and I then loved it.The Bone Season is set in alternate version of Earth, where the government, Scion, monitor the population for those people with extraordinary powers: clairvoyants. A member of one of London’s clairvoyant circles, Paige Mahoney spends her life trying to act normal to her father, whilst hiding from Scion. Just by breathing, she is committing high treason. Just by breathing, Scion has an excuse to kill her.Once the plot starts running, The Bone Season will be constantly glued to your hand. Its charms are irresistible! The overall plot is intricately planned and flows really well. There were so many twists and turns, I think I got whiplash. You couldn’t say that this was predictable in any way because I was constantly sat on the edge of my seat.I liked Paige, but I didn’t love her. She got better as the book went on but at the start I felt like I didn’t know her well enough. I did, however, admire her determination and will because she certainly didn’t give up.Warden. What can I say about Warden that will make him sound as amazing as he actually is? He was so intense and passionate. I really liked seeing him develop as the novel went on and as we got to know him better. I need the second book now just so I can read more about him!I did like the secondary characters and am looking forward to seeing them develop further in the coming novels. There was more of a focus on Nick and Jaxon and the other members of the clairvoyant group rather than the people in Oxford. I’d like to see more characterisation given to the Oxford dwellers in the second novel because I don’t feel as attached to them as I probably should at the moment.I loved the writing style of The Bone Season. It really allows the reader to see into Paige’s mind and see how she’s feeling. This definitely wouldn’t have had the same effect were it written in third person.I’m really looking forward to the next book in the series and it’s certainly not a novel I’m going to forget in a hurry. A highly recommended book by a debut author I can’t wait to see more from.
The Ghost Bride - Yangsze Choo You can read more of my reviews at Queen of ContemporaryThe Ghost Bride was a beautifully written and thought provoking novel that oozed wonderful prose and exciting plot. As a debut novel, I’m really looking forward to seeing what Choo has in store for future novels because this was absolutely excellent.Set in Malaya, The Ghost Bride follows our main character, Li Lan, as she gets wrapped up in the spirit world. When Li Lan’s father tells her of a proposition made to her as a ghost bride to a wealthy family, Li Lan’s life spirals into something that’s deeper than she can control. Accepting could mean the end of the family debts collected since her mother died, but it could also mean something sinister and that will change Li Lan’s life forever.The culture and mythology behind The Ghost Bride was an element that I really loved. I’ve always enjoyed reading about the ways other people live and so this was something that I instantly clicked with. It’s written in such a way that it is easy to understand, especially if you aren’t familiar with any of the terms or customs. I’d happily read more books about the traditions, and I know from talking to other people that they’ll love the ethnicity and cultural values that are spoken about and explored.This is a book that I refused to read before bed. Not that it frightened me, but it did send a chill down my spine because everything felt realistic. Choo has drawn from modern fears and worked them so that they fit in to the world that is created in The Ghost Bride. For example, Li Lan and her family have debt issues and the constant worry about money which is something that many people can relate to today. Mixed with the supernatural features, readers will find it hard not to find something that they love.The array of characters that are introduced in the novel all hard their parts to play and I liked the fact that the secondary characters had so much background and were easy to understand. This was a huge factor that sealed my love of this book because I loved the attention to detail.Although I little erratic and having a tendency to act on a whim, Li Lan was a likable and rounded character who I felt it was easy to connect with. I felt so sorry for her on occasion because she was thrust into so many difficult situations that she didn’t deserve at all. Poor Li Lan!The Ghost Bride was a compelling and thought-provoking read that kept me on the edge of my seat. Choo has created an imaginative and plausible world that makes me feel very pleased to be reading this book, and not experiencing it for myself!
The Soterion Mission - Stewart Ross You can read more of my reviews at Queen of ContemporaryI think that The Soterion Mission is a book that teens and pre-teens will gobble up. Ross has created a vivid and imaginative world that I know people will find believable and realistic.A hundred or so years in the future, no one over the age of nineteen survives. Caused by a worldwide epidemic, by the time someone reaches the age of nineteen, they rapidly age in the space of a few weeks. This means that all knowledge before 2019 has disappeared and life has turned back to what it would have been like in medieval times.When Roxanne turns up at Della Tallis, the home of a group of tribal people, Cyrus, Navid and Taja’s lives are thrust into danger, for they are about to embark on a journey that could help the fate of millions of people. They are looking for their peoples past, and the cure.The Soterion Mission was told in a much unbiased viewpoint. Getting both the Constants- those tribes who follow the values of the people before them- and the Zeds- the brutal tribes who revel in other people’s pain- perspectives across really added something to the story line, and made it a lot easier to follow.There were a lot of very humorous parts in The Soterion Mission, including a hilarious use of the IKEA catalogue. Mixed with the many sober moments, this created a nice contrast. The ability to swap between the two was something that greatly impressed me, as this is very hard to do.The one thing that let me down with this book was the characterisation. Although I grew to like the characters, I didn’t become invested enough in them and felt that because of this their subsequent deaths had no impact on me. Yes, I liked Cyrus, Roxanne and the rest of them, but did I really care what happened to them? Not as much as I would have liked.The opening chapter will instantly grip the reader and really sets the scene for the rest of the book. The Soterion Mission is an action-packed and convincing novel, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the sequel takes us.
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock - Matthew Quick You can read more reviews at Queen of ContemporaryForgive Me, Leonard Peacock was the perfect concoction of The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Before I Die, with a male protagonist, of course.Although I haven’t read The Silver Linings Playbook, I expected great things from the same author, and I was not let down at all.It’s Leonard Peacock’s eighteenth birthday and the day he is going to say goodbye, for he has decided that today will be his last day on Earth. After killing his former best friend, he will take his own life. His mother, who he calls Linda to annoy her, who spends most of her time in New York with her French boyfriend, won’t care. His father, who has moved to somewhere in Venezuela and practically dropped off the face of the planet, won’t care.Leonard has four packages: one for his Bogart- obsessed neighbour; another for his Holocaust teacher; one for a violin virtuoso; and one for a pastor’s daughter.Leonard, for all of his odd characteristics, was a very likable character and one that I just wanted to send big hugs to. He’d never received any love from his parental figures and so was searching for something that he had never had. I loved his relationship with Walt. It was so natural and I relished the scenes when they were interacting. Walt really cared about him, and it was really sweet to see.Written with footnotes at the bottom was a really good idea and fitted in really well with the narration and themes of the book. It’s something that really makes the book stand out and a really strong reason to pick up this book. If you like something a bit different, then Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is the book for you.I loved the future scenes. I’d happily read a whole book that featured this world, because it was so carefully thought out and crafted. It really added a nice touch to the book, and this is the sort of thing that bumps up my rating.Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is the kind of book that I devour. I love hard hitting and raw novels and this really was one of them. It’s impossible to say that this book was a light read, but if it was it wouldn’t be the same. I loved this novel because of its nature and I think this is something that other people will love, too.I didn’t think I’d like Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock as much as I did and I’ll definitely be reading something else by Quick now.
Bittersweet - Cathy Cassidy This really disappointed be. I've loved the previous three Chocolate Box Girls books but this novella just fell a bit flat. The dialogue felt forced, the characters had lost the familiarity and I couldn't connect with the writing. 2.5 stars
The Moon and More - Sarah Dessen You can see my review herePrior to picking this up, I'd only read one Sarah Dessen book- The Truth About Forever. I'd really enjoyed it and so, after hearing good things about her latest, The Moon and More, I decided to buy it. I'm so glad I did because The Moon and More was a perfect summer read.The Moon and More is set in the fictional town of Colby and, boy, do I wish it was real! Dessen got the setting just right and I much preferred it to some books that are set in real places.It's Emaline's last summer before she goes off to college, leaving her hometown, Colby, and her family behind. Her life has always had the same familiarities until now. When Ivy, a film maker from New York, and her assistant, Theo, arrive in Colby everything changes. Suddenly, the summer starts getting busier and busier and Emaline has to face old problems being brought back up.I really liked Emaline as the main protagonist. The book flowed really well written in her perspective and Dessen had created a consist character. She was the sort of girl that you could easily become friends with and I'd happily read another book about her.I wasn't a huge fan of Theo, right from the start. His mannerisms really bugged me and I couldn't see why Emaline liked him. He was just so annoying!However, I did like Luke and found him so adorable. I craved the scenes he was in and his interaction with Emaline was just so sweet.The relationships between the characters was something I really loved. Emaline was so close to her family and it was nice to see a happy family unit, rather than one that has a lot of issues like we see in many YA books.I completely adored The Moon and More and will definitely be raiding my library for more Sarah Dessen books now.
Attachments - Rainbow Rowell You can see my review hereImagine this: there I am, ill, sat on the sofa and the something drops through my letterbox. It's a package and when I open it there are books inside. Magical. One of these books is Attachments and I put down my re-read of City of Bones especially to start it. Yes, I was that desperate to start this book.Attachments is about a guy called Lincoln whose job it is to check the emails sent by employees of The Courier, a newspaper house where Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder work. Beth and Jennifer both have a habit of sending each other emails throughout the day and the majority of them get flagged up.Written in both third person and through email correspondence, Attachments was a book that I added straight to my favourites shelf after reading it. I loved the way it was written, I loved the characters; I loved everything about it.I was immediately drawn into the book and loved Beth and Jennifer straight away. Their emails really added a humorous tone to the book and I'd be happy to read a book entirely about their emails.I think the novel thing about this book (excuse the pun) is that it's set in a time when people didn't have smart phones to hand and WiFi. I was also pleased because one of the emails in the book was sent on the day I was born and so that made me very happy.As I've already read Eleanor & Park and Fangirl, this was the last of Rowell's books that I had to read so I don't know how I'm going to wait until Spring 2014 for her next, Landlines.
Acid - Emma Pass You can read more of my reviews at Queen of ContemporaryACID has been on my wishlist for ages now. It may be one of my most anticipated UKYA reads of 2013. I was so worried that I wouldn’t like it, but I was definitely not let down. In fact, it surpassed my expectations by a long mile! ACID is set in 2113 Britain, or, to be specific, the Independent Republic of Britain. I haven’t read many books set in futuristic Britain so this was one aspect that I was a little worried about. It actually scared me how realistic everything was because this could happen. I think the fact that I’m British, combined with the fact that ACID was so well written made it seem as if this world was going on outside of the book. It would be so easy for a scenario such as this one to make its way into the real world.If you’re someone who pays a lot of attention to character detail, then ACID is the book for you. Jenna could give even Katniss Everdeen a run for her money. I’d even go so far as to say Jenna is now one of my favourite female protagonists. Most characters have something that irritates me about them but Jenna felt so real and whole. Yes, she had faults but they were human faults and so made her all that more realistic. All of the secondary characters were also equally amazing. I grew to really love Max and also loved Mel and the rest of the group.The overall plot was well thought out and there wasn’t a moment when I wasn’t enthralled. I don’t think I’ve read a dystopian quite like this one and I really loved it because of that. Pass has created a unique twist in the ever-growing dystopian market. If there were more dystopians like this then I’d be reading them a lot more often!ACID didn’t let me down at all and I’ll read anything that Pass writes from now on. A unique and interesting take on a totalitarian country.