Winged Reviews A UK young adult book blog for those a little bit older.

Joyride by Anna Banks

Joyride by Anna Banks

Joyride by Anna BanksJoyride
Author: Anna Banks
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
Date: June 2015
288 pages
Source: ARC from publisher
Genres: Contemporary
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Who says opposites don't attract?

It's been several years since Carly Vega's parents were deported. Carly lives with her older brother, studies hard, and works the graveyard shift at a convenience store to earn enough to bring her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He used to date popular blondes and have fun pranking with his older sister. But now all that's changed, and Arden needs a new accomplice. Especially one his father, the town sheriff, will disapprove.

All Carly wants, at first, is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to not do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they've been living according to the wishes of others. Carly and Arden's journey toward their true hearts - and one another-- is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh. Just like real life.

Anna Banks does it again with her latest story, Joyride. This is the story of Carly Vega, a pragmatic, 16-year-old Mexican-American girl who spends all of her waking hours either going to school or working dead end jobs to save up money to sneak her parents and younger siblings into the country. It is also the story of Arden Moss, local golden boy and son of Sheriff Moss, the biggest, baddest racist in all of Houghlin County. After a misunderstanding with not one but two shotguns, Arden and Carly and their lives are never the same.

I had a hard time liking Arden or even caring what happens to him. Why? Arden is a privileged and clueless prick who got away with being the bully in school and all around town. He chose to skirt his responsibilities to chase the fun of pranking people and causing trouble. He is not held accountable for anything, ever, simply because of who his dad is. When he officially meets Carly, he learns she does not put up with crap, yet her true nature is to be shy and timid. Arden instantly falls for her and wants her to be his “side kick”. At that point, it almost felt like insta-love and I was close to tapping out. But the two characters did develop as the story went along, discovering who they were and what was important to them.

Little things throughout the story bothered me. Such as Arden describing Carly’s eyes in food terms or the fact that Arden’s POV was 3rd person and Carly’s was 1st. Sometimes it was things Carly did that didn’t make sense. Such as how she talked about how “Americans” do this or that, when she herself is American. Or how Arden’s snarky response to Carly’s apology for his sister’s death made her like him more. Sometimes it was weird narrative choices like how on one page Julio successfully guilted Carly into keeping all of her work shifts and then literally on the very next page she’s not only cut shifts but has also withheld earnings to buy herself treats.

Overall, this was a fast-paced story and it carried a serious tone of racism and immigration, which is a tough subject in general. I felt the story was real in the aspect that it gave a glimpse into the daily struggle of teenagers who have had their parents deported for being illegal and the steps they go to in order to bring their family back together. I found myself liking my story in the end but I did not like or believe how quickly Arden and Carly got together and how much Arden depended on Carly for reassurance. Things between those two just didn’t totally jive with me. That seemed rushed. No matter what, I would still recommend this book to everyone as I may be alone in my thought processes. It was a sweet book but the serious tones might scare some people away. I really hope that isn’t the case. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, mainly because I like how brave Anna Banks is for talking about this touchy subject and not shying away from it.

4 Stars

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Bookish Firsts: Claire McFall

Bookish Firsts: Claire McFall

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Please welcome to the blog today Claire McFall, author of Black Cairn Point, a creepy mystery about a boy and girl who disturb a pagan ritual site in Scotland. She is also the author of Ferryman and Bombmaker.

Bookish Firsts

With author Clare McFall

What is the first book you ever read/remember reading?
mcfall-whalesWhy the Wales Came by Michael Morpurgo. I know I started with Puddle Lane… but those memories are buried under the mists of time (it was a LONG time ago) and so this is the first book that I remember. It’s about two young children, Gracie and Daniel who live on the Scilly Isles. I had to look them up – they’re a little cluster of islands off the coast of Cornwall. I remember thinking that sounded like a very exotic place to live. It’s a great book with everything you need in a good story: a creepy old man, a story of a strange curse, disapproving parents to make the whole thing more exciting… and a dramatic ending.

I love Michael Morporgo – I teach War Horse and Private Peaceful lots at school – and this was my first foray into his writing. Better yet, I discovered it when I was still very young, so rather than appreciating the writing, I fell in love with the story.

What is the first book you wrote (can be published or unpublished)?

mcfall-ferrymanActually, it was the first book I had published: Ferryman. Lest you go thinking that I’m one of these lucky gits who write a book, quickly get an agent and voila, get their book published… it wasn’t like that. Honest.

In fact, Ferryman wasn’t even the book my agent was trying to sell Templar – that book is still languishing in my homeless pile. But the commissioning editor at Templar liked the sound of Ferryman, so that was the book we went with.

If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a retelling of the Greek mythology surrounding the ferryman Charon who took the souls of the dead across to the underworld. The main character Dylan is in a train crash and wakes to discover that everyone else in the crowded carriage is gone. You can probably guess what has happened to her. The story follows her adventure across the wasteland in the hands of her ferryman, Tristan.

Initially, the book was much shorter. If you have read the book, you know that bit – that bit where Dylan crosses the line and turns round and… Yeah. That’s where I finished it. I thought that was an awesome ending. Because, let’s face it, you wouldn’t have been expecting it to finish there like that, would you? But my agent said that was far too sad and when Templar showed real interest in the story, he sent me off to add something a bit more emotionally satisfying to the end. Now this was Friday night, and he was meeting the publisher again on the Monday. So I had to have the revamped novel ready to go by then. Sounds easy enough… a whole weekend, right? I added 30,000 words that weekend. My fingers nearly fell off.

But the novel’s much better for it. My fingers have never really recovered though…

What is the first book you would save if your house was burning?
mcfall-xoOh man, can I just save my Kindle? That would be soooooooo much easier! No? Okay, then. I guess it would have to be Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman. I first discovered this book when I was at university and it was one of the set texts in my Children’s Literature course. I raced through it and then, oh the end… I cried my eyes out. More than I did at Titanic in the pictures when I was 14. If you haven’t read it – you should! – I won’t spoil it, but it’s SAD! I teach the book at school quite a lot – sooooooooooo lucky with the literature in our book cupboard! – and at the end I always have a huge dilemma: let one of the boys read it because they’ll probably be less likely to cry… or read it myself and make me and everyone else in the classroom greet. One year I just chickened out and set it for homework!

The book is about two young people: Callum and Sephy. They are growing up in a world where black people (Crosses) are in power and white people (Noughts) are an underclass. It explores racism on its head and if you read all four books in the series – which, again, you should! – you get to see the slow change in society as it crawls towards equality. That’s really well done by the author, but the reason I really love it is the relationship between Sephy and Callum. I LOVE Callum. He is, I think, my favourite boy character in all of YA.

I’m not going to rave about it anymore. Go. Read it. Now!

About Black Cairn Point

A haunting YA thriller unfolds on an isolated beach.

Heather agrees to a group camping holiday with Dougie and his friends because she’s desperate to get closer to him. But when the two of them disturb a pagan burial site above the beach, she becomes certain that they have woken a malevolent spirit. Something is alive out there in the pitch-black dark, and it is planning to wreak deadly revenge.

One year later Heather knows that she was very lucky to escape Black Cairn Point but she is still waiting for Dougie to wake from his coma. If he doesn’t, how will she prove her sanity, and her innocence?

A chilling and atmospheric thriller from unflinching and award-winning writer Claire McFall.

About Claire McFall

Claire McFall grew up just south of Glasgow in the heart of Celtic and Rangers country. She teaches English in a secondary school in Peebles, Scotland, where she lives. Her debut novel, FERRYMAN, was long-listed for the Branford Boase Award, nominated for the Carnegie Medal and won a Scottish Children’s Book Award. Follow Claire at or on Twitter: @mcfall_claire

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Blog Tour: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Blog Tour: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

I’m really excited to kickstart the blog tour for creepy debut The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich. The tour is a mirror tour, which means for that each day, you will have two blogs (one in the UK and one in the US) answering a theme or question – one from the perspective of Carly and the other from Kaitlyn – the ‘two’ main characters of the book! Today, we are getting The Ultimate Playlist from Carly!

Carly’s Ultimate Playlist

By Dawn Kurtagich

Don’t forget to check out Kaitlyn’s Ultimate Playlist over at Swoony Boys Podcast!

About The Dead House

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High School burned down. The blaze killed three and injured twenty, and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. For two decades, little was revealed about what became known as the Johnson Incident.

Until now…

A diary has been found in the ruins of the school. In this diary, Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s twin, tells of the strange and disturbing sequence of events leading to the incident.

But Kaitlyn doesn’t exist. She never has.

Chilling, creepy and compelling, THE DEAD HOUSE is one of those very special books that finds all the dark places in your imagination, and haunts you long after you’ve finished reading.

About Dawn Kurtagich

Dawn Kurtagich author pic
Dawn Kurtagich writes psychologically sinister fiction, where girls may descend into madness, boys may see monsters in men, and adults may have something to hide. She lives in Wales, but grew up all over the world, predominantly in Africa. She writes and blogs for YA Scream Queens and is a member of the YA League. THE DEAD HOUSE is her first novel.


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Cover Reveal: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Cover Reveal: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Cover Reveal button

Wolf by Wolf is hands down one of the best books I’ve read this year. Maybe even the best book I’ve read this year. It’s set in an alternate history where Axis wins WWII and features a shape-shifting girl, a cross-continent motorcycle race and some very special tattoos. Safe to say, I’m absolutely thrilled to reveal the beautiful official UK cover to you all!

The pictures below show how the cover has evolved from the original US design to the final UK one.
Firstly, here is the US Wolf by Wolf cover:

WxW US ed

Which was then changed slightly to make this UK arc cover:

WxW UK arc

And after a little more tweaking, here is the final AMAZING UK cover!

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

You can click for a larger version of the image.

So, what do you think of the UK cover? Do you like it better than the US one? Tell me what you think in the comments below or on social media using the hashtag #WolfbyWolf!

About Wolf by Wolf

Release Date: 5 November 2015
Publisher: Indigo

“Once upon a different time, there was a girl who lived in a kingdom of death. Wolves howled up her arm. A whole pack of them-made of tattoo ink and pain, memory and loss. It was the only thing about her that ever stayed the same. Her story begins on a train.”

Imagine THE BOOK THIEF meeting X-MEN by way of an epic motorcycle road race, in a display of the strength and power of the third Reich, across a Europe where Hitler and the Axis have won the war.

Add Yael, a girl experimented on in the death camps who can change her appearance at will (but can no longer remember her true face), and a do-or-die challenge by the resistance to impersonate a rider of this epic race, to win, and to meet and assassinate Hitler himself. Yael must change history forever.

A story that defies categorisation, and a tale of identity, power, loss and memory, this is a truly extraordinary (and entirely unique) book.

About Ryan Graudin

Ryan Graudin was born in Charleston, South Carolina with a severe case of wanderlust. When she’s not travelling, she’s busy photographing weddings, writing and spending time with her husband and wolf-dog. Find her on or on Twitter @ryangraudin.

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Cover Reveal: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Cover Reveal: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Cover Reveal button

I have been basically coveting Rebel of the Sands since it was first hinted to me by the book’s publicist and then a day later I had the pleasure of meeting author Alwyn Hamilton very randomly at another book event. They sold me on the tagline – ‘more gunpowder than girl’, which I still think should have been the title of the book. It basically sounds amazing–set in an Arab-inspired setting with guns. GUNS! <3    

I’m basically predisposed to love it. I’ve been so excited to see the cover for a while and I have to say I was not disappointed. So without further ado, here is the awesome GIF that brings the cover to life!


Isn’t it stunning? All the gold parts of the cover will be foiled. I need my heart-eyes emoji here! Once more with feeling:

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

So, what do you think of the UK cover? Are you excited about this book?

About Rebel of the Sands

Release Date: 4 February 2015
Publisher: Faber & Faber

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

About Alwyn Hamilton

Alwyn Hamilton was born in Toronto and spent her childhood bouncing between Europe and Canada until her parents settled in France. She grew up in a small town there, which might have compelled her to burst randomly into the opening song from Beauty and the Beast were it not for her total tone-deafness. She instead attempted to read and write her way to new places and developed a weakness for fantasy and cross-dressing heroines. She left France for Cambridge University to study History of Art at King’s College, and then to London where she became indentured to an auction house. She has a bad habit of acquiring more hardcovers than is smart for someone who moves house quite so often.

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