Title: Everything I Never Told You (2014)
Author: Celeste Ng
Extent: 304 pages
Release Date: June 26, 2014
Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.
So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos.
The first time I heard of Everything I Never Told You, I was at The Strand, New York City, with my publishing classmates from Melbourne. I picked up the book, read the first line — Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet. — and immediately resolved to buy it when I get back home. My mistake was not writing an actual note, as I promptly forgot about it… at least until I saw it again in the library recently.
Title: Blood for Blood (2016)
Series: Wolf by Wolf – Book 2
Author: Ryan Graudin
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Extent: 496 pages
Release Date: October 6, 2016
For the resistance in 1950s Germany, the war may be over, but the fight has just begun.
Death camp survivor Yael, who has the power to skinshift, is on the run: the world has just seen her shoot and kill Hitler. But the truth of what happened is far more complicated, and its consequences are deadly. Yael and her unlikely comrades dive into enemy territory to try to turn the tide against the New Order, and there is no alternative but to see their mission through to the end, whatever the cost.
But dark secrets reveal dark truths, and one question hangs over them all: how far can you go for the ones you love?
Blood for Blood is likely one of my most anticipated releases of the year — I freakin’ loved Wolf by Wolf from start to finish and that book was in fact one of my rare five-star reads. I was really, really worried that the sequel wouldn’t live up to expectations… but I’ll tell you now: it really did. This review will contain spoilers for Wolf by Wolf, so please tread with caution.
Title: Just Listen (2006)
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 371 pages
Release Date: April 6, 2006
Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything” — at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.
This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.
Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.
I first picked up Just Listen as a teen — I was maybe 14 or 15, going through middle school and totally blind to the ways of the world. A friend let me borrow her copy and from then on, my life was forever changed. Sounds too dramatic? Well, this book solidified my friendship with her and she’s still one of my closest friends now, so I’d say nope, just realistic. It is also one of my favourite books of all-time, so I’m warning you now: this review is basically 100% praise and appreciation. 😛
Title: And I Darken (2016)
Series: The Conquerors Saga – Book 1
Author: Kiersten White
Genre: Young Adult, Historical
Extent: 484 pages
Release Date: June 28, 2016
No one expects a princess to be brutal. And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
The first book I’ve heard of Kiersten White is Paranormalcy, which, honestly speaking, didn’t impress me that much. This was back when paranormal romance YA was everything I read, and Paranormalcy struck me as very “been there done that”. I actually can’t recall what the book is about at all, and reading its summary on Goodreads didn’t ring any bells. And I Darken, however, was so different — so much better — from Paranormalcy, the two didn’t even seem like they were written by the same person… and in a good way, too.
Title: Vicious (2013)
Series: Vicious – Book 1
Author: V. E. Schwab
Genre: Science Fiction
Extent: 364 pages
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?
Guys. Guys. I think I’m in love with V. E. Schwab. After a full month without any five-star read, it was just so good to tuck into a book that was super fun, super addictive, and super gripping from the start to the end. I didn’t put Vicious down even once and pretty much finished it in one sitting. In a way, this book kind of reminds me of X-Men (which I love) in book form.