Monday, 26 June 2017

The Nearest Far Away Place by Hayley Long

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 13th of July 2017 

Griff and Dylan are driving into Manhattan with their parents when the worst happens. There is a terrible car accident and Dylan and Griff¹s parents are killed.

The boys are suddenly orphans with nowhere to go, until a kind aunt and uncle give them a new home in Wales. Now Dylan and Griff have everything they need ­ love, a happy home and a future. But Dylan is worried about Griff: whether he is OK, whether he is coping with his grief. He doesn¹t seem to want to speak about it or really acknowledge the loss of their parents.

But Dylan needs to be even braver than Griff, because there is something very important he needs to face up to before he can move on.

What I Have to Say 

I liked this book a lot better than Sophie Someone. It was easy to read but still with a lot of playfulness surrounding the text. I liked the way that the text got smaller and larger depending on whether someone was talking quietly or loudly. There were other fun uses of format too. It made it really enjoyable to read. Different from a lot of other books around. 

Dylan was an interesting character. I liked the older brother trying to look after the younger one, relationship, though for a while I thought that he should be doing more to help. It soon made sense why he wasn't though. 

The background characters were brilliant as well. I loved Blessing and all the various pets with their different personalities. There were a lot of pets in this book. 

It was sad, but it was an easy to read book with lots of fun elements to detract from the grief of it all. I think this is a great way to deal with grief. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Hot Key Books for providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 24 June 2017

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 336
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK 
Released: 13th of July 2017 

Deep in uncharted Peru, the holy town of Bedlam stands at the edge of a forest. The shrine statues move, and anyone who crosses the border dies. But somewhere inside are cinchona trees, whose bark yields quinine: the only known treatment for malaria.

On the other side of the Pacific, it is 1859 and India is ravaged by the disease. The hunt for a reliable source of quinine is critical and in its desperation, the India Office searches out its last qualified expeditionary. Struggling with a terrible injury from his last mission and the strange occurrences at his family's ruined estate, Merrick Tremayne finds himself under orders to bring back cinchona cuttings at any cost and dispatched, against his own better judgement, to Bedlam.

There he meets Raphael, a priest around whom the villagers spin unsettlingly familiar stories of impossible disappearances and living stone. Gradually, he realises that Raphael is the key to a legacy left by two generations of Tremayne explorers before him, one which will prove more dangerous and valuable than the India Office could ever have imagined.

What I Have to Say 

Let's be honest here, this was never going to be quite as good as The Watchmaker of Filigree street. Nothing could have followed that and been quite as good. This did eventually get the same feel to it that Filigree Street had, though it was slower to be as good. It was probably mostly because my expectations for it was too high, but I think it also took longer for the magic to really appear in the book. It was took normal, even when they got to Bedlam and started to see the pollen and the trees, it still didn't feel completely magical until lately on. 

By the end of it, I was in love with it though. Not as much as Filigree Street but I still got a little bit of that same feeling. I think the reappearance of Keita helped. He's just such a fantastic character and I don't think I'd ever get bored of reading about him. 

This book had some really interesting themes. The idea of language that came up in it was just so fascinating. The themes of translation and mistranslation and how much culture and belief is hard to translate when talking to foreigners. This book definitely stressed the point of how to really know and understand anything about a culture you have to fully embrace it. 

I love this world of hidden magic so much. I can't wait for Natasha Pulley's next book. 

My thanks go to Bloomsbury and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Goodnight, Boy by Nikki Sheehan

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Publisher: ONEWorld Publications 
Released: 6th of July 2017 

A tale of two very different worlds, both shattered by the loss of loved ones. Tragic, comic and full of hope, thanks to a dog called Boy.

The kennel has been JC’s home ever since his new adoptive father locked him inside. For hours on end, JC sits and tells his dog Boy how he came to this country: his family; the orphanage and the Haitian earthquake that swept everything away.

When his adoptive mother Melanie rescues him, life starts to feel normal again. Until JC does something bad, something that upset his new father so much that he and Boy are banished to the kennel. But as his new father gets sicker, JC realizes they have to find a way out. And so begins a stunning story of a boy, a dog and their journey to freedom.

What I Have To Say 

This book was made special by the way it was written. As one boy's monologue to his dog, it was different to a lot of things. Even other books written in monologue haven't come close to being as good as this one. I think that's partly because as JC tells the dog his story, he often has to stop and come back to the present because something is happening with the dog. 

I found that this story really captured me. Often monologue stories can be a little dull, but there were so many threads and little mysteries that kept my attention fixed on the story. What happened that caused JC and Boy to be locked into the kennel? When will Melanie come back? All these little questions keep me interested and reading to the very end. 

JC's voice also just made me care for him a lot. His voice was so young and he had been through so much, it made it so easy to connect with him and want the best for him. 

This was definitely a very interesting book and it's made me more interested in reading more like it. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and ONEWorld Publications for providing me with this copy for review. 

Monday, 19 June 2017

Runemarks by Joanne M. Harris

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 528
Publisher: Gollancz
Released: 24th of November 2016 

It's been five hundred years since the end of the world and society has rebuilt itself anew. The old Norse gods are no longer revered. Their tales have been banned. Magic is outlawed, and a new religion - the Order - has taken its place.

In a remote valley in the north, fourteen-year-old Maddy Smith is shunned for the ruinmark on her hand - a sign associated with the Bad Old Days. But what the villagers don't know is that Maddy has skills. According to One-Eye, the secretive Outlander who is Maddy's only real friend, her ruinmark - or runemark, as he calls it - is a sign of Chaos blood, magical powers and gods know what else...

Now, as the Order moves further north, threatening all the Worlds with conquest and Cleansing, Maddy must finally learn the truth to some unanswered questions about herself, her parentage, and her powers.

What I Have to Say 

This book dragged a little for me. It was a really interesting concept and I really enjoyed the first half of it, but then it just went on a bit to long and it got a bit too involved with all the Gods and factions. It may just be that I'm not so used to reading High Fantasy these days and I really wanted to enjoy it, but I think I just wasn't in the mood for such an involved plot. 

I loved the characters. Each of the gods was played up to almost caricature level of personality. Loki as always was a very complex and beautifully mean character who seemed to love pissing people off as much as he regretted having everyone hated him. Odin, the one who wanted to be the man behind the scenes and pulling all the strings, the general of the army, but weakened by Ragnarok. And then there was Maddy, stuck in the centre of all the politics and backstabbing of the gods and trying to make sense of everything and survive it all. 

I'll probably read the next one at some point, because I really think I could like this series. I just have to be in the right mood to read it. 

My thanks go to Gollancz for providing me with this copy for review

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Day 7 by Kerry Drewery

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 448 
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 15th of June 2017 
Other Books in the Series: Cell 7 

Martha Honeydew has been released from the terrifying Cell 7. But despite her new freedom, the corrupt judicial system is still tracking Martha's every move. And Isaac, her only trusted friend, is now imprisoned in the very same cells she was. Isaac saved Martha's life, it is only right she now saves his. 

But with Martha still a target, her chances of saving Isaac are remote. Martha begins to question whether it is ever possible to escape government scrutiny. 

Will Martha and Isaac ever reunite? 

Will they ever live in a better world?

What I Have to Say 

I loved Cell 7 so I was really looking forward to Day 7, but it made me feel a bit disappointed when I found it a little repetitive. For a lot of it, it kind of felt like the same plot as Cell 7 but with Isaac in the cell instead of Martha. It was different enough to keep me interested, but I think it could have been more different. 

I love the whole concept of it though. Everything is a conspiracy. Everything is manipulation and I feel like in this book we saw more of that. We saw how everyone's strings are being pulled behind the scenes. Not just the presenters of the TV shows but even Martha and Eve and everyone else. I love reading about manipulation and how hard it is to escape from this kind of thing. 

I'm looking forward to the next book a lot. I don't like the repetitiveness, but I still love the whole idea and everything else about, Kerry Drewery's writing is beautiful and the different styles really bring it all together. 

I can't wait to see what happens now. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Hot Key Books for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Flight of a Starling by Lisa Heathfield

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320
Publisher: Electric Monkey 
Released: 29th of June 2017 

Rita and Lo, sisters and best friends, have spent their lives on the wing – flying through the air in their trapeze act, never staying in one place for long. Behind the greasepaint and the glitter, they know that the true magic is the family they travel with.

Until Lo meets a boy. Suddenly, she wants nothing more than to stay still. And as secrets start to tear apart the close-knit circus community, how far will Lo go to keep her feet on the ground?

Trigger Warnings: Suicide 

What I Have to Say 

I can't give this book a good review. I can't do that because it left me feeling awful. It left me shaking and scared and in a really bad state for the whole of the next day. So much so that I ended up having to miss my class and go home because I couldn't manage. I want to discuss exactly why at the end of this review for people who don't want spoilers. But if you have any triggers, be sure to check out the trigger warning above, because this book triggered me really badly. 

So one short paragraph about what I like for the people who don't suffer from the same stuff as I do. 

I liked the circus life and the characters a lot. Heathfield showed a really interesting culture that went on in the little circus and I would have loved to see more of it. Also, Rita and Lo were such interesting characters. I really think that if it hadn't been for the ending, I would have really loved this book. 

On to the SPOILERS: 

This book showed a very graphic suicide. It showed a character taking pills, including details like how many pills she took and all the feelings that she had while taking them in detail. I haven't been suicidal for a long time, but this book revived all of the feelings that I had back when I was. It was only for the short time between when I finished the book and I went to sleep as I'd stayed up late to finish it. But as I said. I was shaken really badly during the next day. 

I worry about this book falling into the hands of someone who's actively suicidal. The readership of this book is teenagers, who can be more susceptible to this sort of stuff. I know from the acknowledgement that this wasn't the authors intention, so I just really feel that it shouldn't be this detailed. 

This book has really made me question whether to pick up any more of Lisa Heathfield's books again because there was no warning for this and I don't want anything like this to happen again. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Electric Monkey for providing me with this copy for review. 

Monday, 12 June 2017

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index by Julie Israel

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 345
Publisher: Penguin
Released: 1st of June 2017 

This moving and uplifting debut follows Juniper Lemon, heartbroken after her older sister Camilla's unexpected death, as she navigates the holes that have been torn in her world, and the mysteries that Camilla left behind.

It's hard to keep close a person everyone keeps telling you is gone.

It's been sixty-five painful days since the death of Juniper's big sister, Camilla. On her first day back at school, bracing herself for the stares and whispers, Juniper borrows Camie's handbag for luck - and discovers an unsent break-up letter inside. It's mysteriously addressed to 'You' and dated July 4th - the day of Camie's accident. Desperate to learn the identity of Camie's secret love, Juniper starts to investigate.

But then she loses something herself. A card from her daily ritual, The Happiness Index: little notecards on which she rates the day. The Index has been holding Juniper together since Camie's death - but without this card, there's a hole. And this particular card contains Juniper's own secret: a memory that she can't let anyone else find out.

What I Have to Say 

This is such a beautiful book about grief, guilt and friendship. It's about how people process and grieve differently. It was interesting to see the family dynamic and how each member of the family were trying to grieve for Camilla in different ways and how it meant that Juniper clashed so much with her mum and how she wasn't able to grieve because her mum got upset every time Camilla was mentioned. 

Though Juniper's motives for getting them together may not have been entirely good, I loved the friendship group that formed throughout the novel. It was obvious how close they were growing in such a short amount of time and it felt real. It felt like what you want in a friendship group.

I also really liked the arty stuff. I loved how the idea of the found collages and how Juniper started to express herself through her art. 

For friendship, realistic characters and Dala horses, Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index is the place to go. 

My thanks go to Netgally and Penguin for providing me with this copy for review.