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. 

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Dramatically Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press 
Released: 6th June 2017 

Senior year is not shaping up to be the picture perfect movie Em Katsaros had imagined. Her super hot leading man is five thousand miles away. Her dad just got laid off. And Em can kiss her first-pick university goodbye if she doesn't snag a scholarship

To turn this Shakespearean tragedy into the Academy Award-winning dream Em has written for herself, she enters a speech competition and manages to cinch a spot in the US Youth Change Council national round. She gets to spend a week in Boston and her prayers might be answered if she can kick butt and win one of the national scholarships.

Everything seems to be going by the script until she finds out Kris Lambert-senior class president, stuck-up jerk, and her nemesis-is going, too. Cue the dramatic music. In Boston, Kris is different. Nice. Cute, even. But she knows his game way too well-be nice to your opponents and then throw them under the bus on your way to victory. Instead of becoming his next victim, Em decides to turn the tables by putting her acting and flirting skills to work. Unfortunately, as they get close to the final competition and judging, reality and acting start to blur.

Can Em use the drama from the stage to get the future she's been dreaming of?

What I Have to Say 

I love book series where we switch to a different character each book. This book made me miss Phoebe's voice a lot, but it's so great to see Em's story and I can't wait for the third one. 

The dynamic between Kris and Em was what really made this book I think. It's so different from Phoebe's story. I also really enjoyed how much the intense field trip to Boston was shown. It highlighted how tied up in her emotions Em was getting, because there just wasn't time to process it while she was going from one conference to the next. 

I really liked Em's character as well. She was so driven. I love to read about people who know what they want and are ready to go out and do anything to get it. With actors like Em it can be especially fun because you can see the characters they put on. 

I think Bookishly is still my favourite, but this is a very good follow up. I can't wait for Practically Ever After! 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Spencer Hill Press for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Aurabel by Laura Dockrill

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 304 
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 1st of June 2017 
Other Books in the Series: Lorali 

It has been two years since Rory drowned, and Lorali is in Hastings, living the quiet life of a normal teenage girl. But her safe life on land won't last for long. Life in The Whirl has become a hotbed of underwater politics and as the council jostles to oust the king, one Mer in particular has her eye on Lorali as the key to her own rise to power.

Meanwhile, Aurabel, a lowly Mer from the wrong side of the trench, is attacked by sea beasts and left for dead - and without a tail. Raging with righteous anger, she rebuilds herself a mechanical tail and reinvents herself as a fearless steampunk Mer seeking revenge. But she never expected the most important job that was about to drop into her lap.

What I Have to Say 

I didn't like this as much as Lorali. I think most of that is because I didn't warm to Aurabel as quickly as I did to Lorali. Lorali had all the sweet innocence and Aurabel has an edge to her even before the events of the stories started. I grew to like her more once she became bad-ass, but at first she just wasn't a character I could connect to. 

It also was just lacking the innocence and wonder that I really enjoyed about Lorali. Lorali's wonder at discovering everything about the Walkers was one of the best things about Lorali and I just missed it so much. It also had all all the darker elements that were in the second half of Lorali and it quickly became a bit too much for me. It was all dark and gore and not enough lightness to balance it out. 

I still think that these are good books, but I just was so unprepared for Aurabel.  I think if I reread it now that I like Aurabel as a character and am more prepared for the dark, gritty feel of the book, I'd enjoy it more, but this time it just didn't live up to my hopes. 

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

Monday, 5 June 2017

The Women of the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 368 
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre 
Released: 18th of May 2017 

A resistance widow. A silent co-conspirator. The only one who survived. 

The Third Reich has crumbled. The Russians are coming.
Can Marianne von Lingenfels and the women in her care survive and build their ravaged world anew?

Marianne - widow of a resistor to the Nazi regime - returns to the grand, crumbling castle where she once played host to all of German high society. She assembles a makeshift family from the ruins of her husband's movement, rescuing her dearest friend's widow, Benita, from sexual slavery to the Russian army, and Ania from a work camp for political prisoners. She is certain their shared past will bind them together.

But as Benita begins a clandestine relationship and Ania struggles to conceal her role in the Nazi regime, Marianne learns that her clear-cut, highly principled world view has no place in these new, frightening and emotionally-charged days.

All three women must grapple with the realities they now face, and the consequences of decisions each made in the darkest of times . . . 

What I Have to Say 

This book was interesting, but it frightened me a lot. I don't think I can read books about the lead up to the Second World Two and Nazi Germany for a while. It's just too close to what's happening politically in America right now and I'm not sure I can handle reading that. So much of the stuff that was shown in this book is so close to what's happening in America right now. The only comfort I can take is that I'm seeing a lot more resistance. 

The book itself though was pretty good. The characters and their different stories were really interesting and the way their personalities interacted showed how good characters they were and the way that their experiences defined their characters so much, both what they went through during the war and their interactions with the Nazi party before the war. 

Marianne's journey throughout the novel was really something as well. Her political opinions were so strong, whereas the other women didn't believe so strongly in things. It was interesting to see how that hardened her and how her pressure on the other characters to see things as black and white as she does effected them and her relationships with them. 

This is a novel about the shades of gray. This is a novel about the German people, how complicit they were, but also about how they were treated afterwards. It goes into morality and consequence and blame in a really fascinating way.

My thanks go to Bonnier Zaffre for providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Superpowerless by Chris Priestley

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 336
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released: 15th of June 2017 

David is sixteen. A pretty ordinary boy, in most ways - he just wants to hang out in his bedroom, reading his dad's old comics. Comics that are full of his heroes - those figures whose lives are charmed, special, unique. 

Life hasn't been easy recently for David, though. His father died just a couple of years ago, he has a fractious relationship with his mum, and he has fallen out with his best friend. But, David has a secret, which he hasn't told anyone. He has superpowers. He can soar through the air, he has superhearing, he feels and hears everything super-keenly. So life should be easier, then, shouldn't it? But somehow it's not - and when David gets involved with the girl next door, gorgeous Holly Hunter, he begins to realise just how very complicated it can get. 

David's harbouring another secret, a deeper darker one, and on this journey from boyhood to manhood, will he have the courage to face up to it?

What I Have to Say 

This was really not the book for me. There's a certain kind of book that's written about selfish teenage boys who only think about sex all the time. I know that according to a lot of people and the media that this is accurate to teenage boys, but I really just don't believe it. Some of the selfishness can be accounted for by the depression, but mostly I didn't believe it. 

The superpower element was interesting and it was a good way to show David processing events, but the artwork wasn't to my taste at all and again, so much of it was centred around sex and David watching Holly through the scope that it really put me off. 

I also felt that there was barely any personality written for the girls at all. Holly was beginning to develop a bit towards the end, but other than sunbathing and a crush on Robert Downey Jr, she really didn't have much of a life outside of helping David through his grief. Ellen had even less going for her. She was just there for David to lust after. 

In all. I just didn't like this book. If it hadn't been for review, I probably wouldn't have bothered finishing it. 

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

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 416
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 4th of May 

"There are three things that earn you a man’s name among the Jan’Tep. The first is to demonstrate the strength to defend your family. The second is to prove you can perform the high magic that defines our people. The third is surviving your fourteenth year. I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn’t be doing any of those things."

MAGIC IS A CON GAME. Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage's duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There's just one problem: his magic is gone. As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path. Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi - a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She's difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen's only hope...

What I Have to Say 

Don't you just love when a book is so much better than you expected it to be? Especially since I'm going through a phase of not being so into Fantasy at the moment, when I looked at this book, I wasn't sure whether it was for me. But it looked interesting and there were things that drew me to it. So I gave it a chance and I am so, so glad I did, because it was fantastic. 

The whole world just had something interesting to it. The society of the Jan'Tep with their mage names and the class divide between the magic users and the non-magic users. Also, the small hints at what Argosi life is like. I was so happy when there was another hint about what Ferius Parfax's life consisted of. 

The only thing that put me off a bit was that Kellen was rather whiny about not having magic. Other than trying to trick people, he didn't do much to try and help himself out or find out what Ferius was offering him outside of magic. I got that his situation was awful and that probably would be what I'd do in that situation too, but I much preferred him towards the end of the book when he took matters into his own hands and actually did something about it all. 

With secrets, lies and interesting societies, I truly think this is one of the better Fantasy books I've read lately, I really feel it's making an effort to do things different. I can't wait for the next book so that I can see more of the world outside of Kellen's society. 

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

Monday, 29 May 2017

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 380
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books 
Released: 1st of June 2017 

Lucy Hansson was ready for a perfect summer with her boyfriend, working at her childhood Bible camp on the lake. But when her mom’s cancer reappears, Lucy falters—in faith, in love, and in her ability to cope. When her boyfriend “pauses” their relationship and her summer job switches to a different camp—one for troubled kids—Lucy isn’t sure how much more she can handle. Attempting to accept a new normal, Lucy slowly regains footing among her vibrant, diverse coworkers, Sundays with her mom, and a crush on a fellow counselor. But when long-hidden family secrets emerge, can Lucy set aside her problems and discover what grace really means?

What I Have to Say 

This was a beautiful, beautiful book. At first the Christianity put me off a bit, even though I understood it and how important it was. Lucy grew up her entire life with Christianity and her relationship with god being a huge part of her identity. But the beauty of it was that as she felt disconnected from her faith, she started to explore the sides of her personality that she's never looked into. At the start, she defined herself too much as the pastor's daughter and it was good to see that fall away and be rebuilt in a way that allowed her to live her life more as she wanted without worrying so much about her parents' or god's approval. 

I loved the friendship group at Daybreak. I loved Daybreak! It had such a sense of individuality and the realness that this sort of place have. The kind of atmosphere that you have to be part of to understand it all. The kids at the camp were so sweet as well, especially the little ones. It was interesting how not all the problems of the children were told, but it was obvious they were there for a reason. 

This whole book was a fantastic story and I can't wait for Emery Lord's next book. 

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

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Flames in the Mist by Renée Ahdieh

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Released: 18th of May 2017

The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.

What I Have to Say 

I didn't realise this book was missing from my life, but it really was. It is exactly to my tastes as well as being so beautifully written and with some really real and very mysterious characters. There was so much going on, so many lies told, so many secrets hidden and I cannot wait to find out more. I'm so happy that there are going to be other books. I can't wait to find more what will happen. 

It's all about ninjas and feminism, what could be better? This is a book that really looks at a women's place in the world, a place where Mariko's only option is to be married or bring dishonour to her family. It's about how women can take power in whatever way they can. 

I loved how much the way of Bushido was compared with the way the ninja operate. I always love the comparisons with Samurai and Ninja because they are so routed in the same code but they differ so much in a lot of ways. It's fascinating. 

I think I could read this series forever. It's definitely a new favourite. I can't wait for the next book! 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Opposite of You by Lou Morgan

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 224
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Released: 4th of May 2017 

Bex and her identical twin sister Naomi used to be close. They used to be able to finish each other’s sentences, used to know exactly what the other was thinking. They were a matching pair.

And then something changed.

But Bex didn’t even realise until it was too late. When Naomi walks out of the house the night before their last GCSE exam and doesn’t come back, Bex has to think hard about how to find her.

What happens next will force Bex to unpick their shared history and the memories, following Naomi’s trail through their family, their past and all the way to the blinding lights of the Hemisphere music festival. Everything she thought she knew is called into question.

With her worries dismissed by their parents and ignored by her friends (and with Naomi's friends nowhere to be found) the only person Bex can trust is a stranger – Josh – as she tries to piece together a picture of the person she thought she shared everything with. Naomi's been leading another life, one Bex doesn't recognize... and it's led her straight into the path of Max: someone else who is not what they appear.

What I Have to Say 

This was a nice read. It was an intense look at the bond between twins and how hard it is when they grow apart. It delves deeply into the stories of bonds between twins and reports of knowing when their twin is in danger. I enjoyed it immensely, loving to explore the relationship between Naomi and Bex in the flashbacks to when they were younger and the relationships between them now. 

It's interesting to how things break apart and change, especially when there's the question of supernatural twin psychic powers may be involved. I loved how the question of how much the twin stuff was real was left open through most of the book. 

Naomi was such an interesting character as well. It was interesting how lost she was and how much she resent Bex for that. I'd definitely love to know what Naomi ends up doing, but I doubt there's enough story left for a sequel unless there's a big change in direction. 

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

Monday, 22 May 2017

Artie Conan Doyle and the Gravediggers' Club by Robert J. Harris

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 192
Publisher: Floris Books 
Released: 1st of June 2017 

One day Arthur Conan Doyle will create the greatest detective of all -- Sherlock Holmes. But right now Artie Conan Doyle is a twelve-year-old Edinburgh schoolboy with a mystery of his own to solve. While sneaking out to explore Greyfriars Kirkyard by night, Artie and his best friend Ham spot a ghostly lady in grey and discover the footprints of a gigantic hound. Could the two mysteries be connected? These strange clues lead them to a series of robberies carried out the sinister Gravediggers' Club and soon they find themselves pitted against the villainous Colonel Braxton Dash. Will Artie survive his encounters with graveyards and ghosts in the foggy streets of nineteenth century Edinburgh -- or will his first case be his last?

What I Have to Say 

This is perhaps my new favourite Middle-Grade mystery series! I was worried it would be overdone or written down too much, but I found it such a great read. Artie is a really great character based on a lot of research that the author has done on Arthur Conan Doyle and his life. I liked the fact that it wasn't all centred around Sherlock Holmes (though there were some great references) but also took into account Conan Doyle's interest in the afterlife as well. 

The mystery was very well written and also brought in components of two Sherlock Holmes stories, though not in a way that was too obvious. Harris built his own mystery around these two stories making a wonderfully original and thrilling mystery. I loved all the historical references as well and the Latin that was brought up from time to time. 

I think this is a great introduction to Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes for young readers who have never read the books, but also a really great series for readers who are already fans of the books and the man behind them, young and old. 

I really wasn't sure what this book would be like, but I'm so glad I requested it because it was a really great book. 

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

Saturday, 20 May 2017

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 368
Publisher: Penguin
Released: 1st of June 2017 

Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.

Sports star Cooper only knows what he's doing in the baseball diamond.

Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.

Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.

And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won't ever talk about any of them again.

He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it's no accident. All of them are suspects.

Everyone has secrets, right?

What really matters is how far you'll go to protect them.

What I Have to Say 

A good mystery like this one was exactly what I needed right now. It had very real, believable characters who you couldn't help but like as piece by piece you got to know their real personality. I don't think there was actually one of the four that I didn't love completely by the end. The way it's written makes you feel like you know them at the start but then as they get caught up in being investigated for murder and their lives start to fall apart, it uncovers more about their personalities and you start to really know them as individuals rather than stereotypes. 

The mystery was compelling and beautifully written. I guessed the ending, but in a way that made me feel really clever rather than like it was predictable, because of the fantastic twist to the story. You've got to be able to guess the endings sometimes, or what's the point, right?   It was just perfect and exactly the answer that satisfied me immensely. 

Above all this is a story about secrets. There are so many secrets hidden in this book and it's all about what happens when they come out. I absolutely loved that idea and the way that everything changed as the plot progressed. 

This is definitely one of the most perfect contemporary mysteries I've read and I would recommend it to anyone. 

My thanks go to Penguin Random House and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Battlemage by Taran Matharu

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Hatchette Children's Group 
Released: 4th of May 2017 

After the thrilling cliffhanger at the end of book two, we rejoin Fletcher and his friends in the ether, where they must undertake a mortally dangerous quest, all the while avoiding capture by enemies and facing foes more terrifying than anything they have yet encountered.

But this is nothing compared to what truly lies ahead for Fletcher, as his nemesis, albino orc Khan, is on a mission to destroy Hominum and everything and everyone that Fletcher loves.

What I Have to Say 

Apparently this was the last in the series? I'm surprised by that as I think they left a lot of stuff open. I guess enough was concluded, so perhaps they'll be a sequel trilogy or just a potential for tie in series or novels later on. It would be nice to see something from the other characters. The Dwarven characters especially are really interesting or something more from Sylva. I think Fletcher doesn't have much more to give, but I'd like to know at least in passing about how he does and whether he and Ignatious reach their full potential. 

I was looking forward to this book because of what happened at the end of the last book and I have to say I'm a bit disappoint. I wanted to explore more of the world the demons come from and see more of the different types of demons. There was a bit of that and I understand that the characters were concerned more about their survival and getting back to Hominum as quickly as possible, but maybe in the future it would be cool to get a book about people who go and explore. 

I think this was a good trilogy in general really. There were a lot of battle scenes towards the end of this book, though. They went on a long time and the strategies that Fletcher and his army were using were interesting, but after a while it was just too much. I was done with battles and wanted it to end.

 Also, I think the only thing that really sets this apart from other fantasy series was the issues of race. The Dwarven issues and the way the people in power were trying to set them up and force them into rioting and give them an excuse to round them all up hit me quite strongly. Especially in these political times, it's important to see how racism can be stirred up and incited by a manipulative power, especially when there are terror attacks involved. 

It's interesting that this series has so much to say about race and I definitely think that it's a good reason to read these books. 

My thanks go to Hatchette Book Group and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Like Other Girls by Claire Hennessy

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 288
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 25th of May 2017 

Here's what Lauren knows: she's not like other girls. She also knows it's problematic to say that - what's wrong with girls? She's even fancied some in the past. But if you were stuck in St Agnes's, her posh all-girls school, you'd feel like that too. Here everyone's expected to be Perfect Young Ladies, it's even a song in the painfully awful musical they're putting on this year. And obviously said musical is directed by Lauren's arch nemesis.

Under it all though, Lauren's heart is bruised. Her boyfriend thinks she's crazy and her best friend's going through something Lauren can't understand... so when Lauren realises she's facing every teenage girl's worst nightmare, she has nowhere to turn. Maybe she should just give in to everything. Be like other girls. That's all so much easier ... right?

Trigger warnings: Transphobia, Sexual Harassment. Abortion 

What I Have to Say 

Claire Hennessy likes to take on important issues, as she comes at it from a way that walks on a knife edge between being problematic and really showing how the issues work. In Nothing Tastes as good, this worked quite well. It would be very triggering for someone reading with an eating disorder, but as a book written to show readers what it feels like to have a eating disorder, it did it really well. 

Like Other Girls though, I think goes across the line on some issues. The transphobia really put me off. It horrified me completely and made me dislike Lauren as a character. Considering the ending, I kind of understand what Hennessy was going for, especially as Lauren and Evan have a lot of their own issues which somewhat explained the transphobic comments that Lauren was making and how much she didn't understand what Evan was going through. But I'm not sure it really made it any better. I don't think it was really addressed enough. 

The main plotline was obviously very important and I found it very emotional and interesting. It gave me the connection to Lauren as a character that I hadn't managed to find due to her transphobia, If the book had just been this storyline and there hadn't been the transphobic plotline then I think I really could have enjoyed it. 

I think this is an important book, especially being set in Ireland, but Hennessy just stepped over the line with what she was trying to show with the transphobia. I think it's good that she tried but it just didn't turn out well. 

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

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Girlhood by Cat Clarke

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 342
Publisher: Quercus 
Released: 4th of May 2017 

Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can't escape the guilt of her twin sister's Jenna's death, and her own part in it - and she knows noone else will ever really understand.

But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels...loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Jenna died.

Then Kirsty's behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper's? And why is she so obsessed with Harper's lost sister? Soon, Harper's closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity.

How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her?

What I Have to Say 

This was interesting and guessed what Kirsty was doing from fairly early on. It was interesting to see this story line from the point of view of someone who was so taken in by Kirsty and who just couldn't see how creepy and manipulative she was being. 

What I think I liked most though, other than the beautiful friendship group, full of diversity, was the fact that this isn't a story about destroying and losing friendships. It's a story about second chances. It's about redemption and moving passed grief. Harper is so filled with grief and guilt over the death of her sister and it's all about her and her family needing to move on from that. 

I also felt the boarding school atmosphere was accurate at showing the good and bad sides of boarding school as well. It showed the bitchiness and grudges that students can get in that intense, all girl atmosphere as well as the fun that Harper and her friends get from their close friendships. It shows how friendships can be lost and how hard that is and also how to move on with that. 

In general, it just had a lot of great messages and lot going for it. 

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

Monday, 8 May 2017

Legion by Julie Kagawa

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: HQ
Released: 25th of April 2017 

Dragon hatchling Ember Hill was never prepared to find love at all--dragons do not suffer human emotions--let alone the love of a human and a former dragonslayer, at that. With ex-soldier Garret dying at her feet after sacrificing his freedom and his life to expose the deepest of betrayals, Ember knows only that nothing she was taught by dragon organization Talon is true. About humans, about rogue dragons, about herself and what she's capable of doing and feeling.

In the face of great loss, Ember vows to stand with rogue dragon Riley against the dragon-slaying Order of St. George and her own twin brother Dante--the heir apparent to all of Talon, and the boy who will soon unleash the greatest threat and terror dragonkind has ever known.

Talon is poised to take over the world, and the abominations they have created will soon take to the skies, darkening the world with the promise of blood and death to those who refuse to yield.

What I Have to Say 

I'm enjoying this series more than when I started it, but it still isn't my favourite Julie Kagawa series. She's doing really interesting things with the Talon organisation and the clone dragons. I'm especially liking the stuff with Dante. This book especially gave a lot of information on Dante's motivations. It makes sense now as to what he's doing and exactly why he's doing it. I wish he'd get out from Talon's claw, but I can understand his aims and why he thinks he's doing the right thing for both himself and Ember by doing what he's doing. 

The thing that's really holding me back from really adoring this series is the love triangle. I am so sick of love triangles in books. They never capture my interest as much as they seem to with everyone else. I thought that we could move on with it after what happened in the last book. And again I'm hoping that it will be put behind us after the things that happened in this book. I really hope so anyway. I just don't care which of them Ember ends up with, all I care about is whether they can defeat Talon and avoid being killed by St. George. 

The things with St. George have gotten really interesting in this book though. I can't say much without spoilers, but let's just say that I'm really curious to see what they do in the next book... 

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

Saturday, 6 May 2017

I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 336
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Released: 4th of May 2017

Jemma knows who did the murder. She knows because he told her. And she can't tell anyone.

Fourteen-year-old Jemma has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to communicate or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. She has a sharp brain and inquisitive nature, and knows all sorts of things about everyone. But when she is confronted with this terrible secret, she is utterly powerless to do anything. Though that might be about to change...

What I Have to Say 

This was such an interesting story! It made me want a Miss Marple style detective story about a detective who's in a wheelchair tends to overhear things from people around her because people just assume she doesn't understand and then she could use it to her advantage. I think it would be cool if this turned into a series with Jemma at the center, but I don't think it would happen. 

It was so interesting to see things from the point of view of a person with no way to communicate at all. It really opened my eyes to the feelings of humiliation that can come from being stuck like that. Jemma was such an amazing character and she had so much going on in her mind and yet people around her couldn't do anything but just guess at her needs. And even the most kind and sensitive person in the world would never be able to get that right for her. 

I love this book most because it really made me think of things from a different viewpoint and I hope to find more books like this. 

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

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Passing for White by Tanya Landman

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Publisher: Barrington Stoke 
Released: 15th of May 2017 

1848. The Deep South. Rosa is a slave but her owner is also her father and her fair skin means that she can ‘pass for white’. With the aid of her husband, Rosa disguises herself as a young Southern gentleman, and her husband as her property. In this guise, the couple flee the South, explaining away their lack of literacy, avoiding anyone that they may have ever met and holding their nerve in the face of extreme stress and imminent danger, over a thousand miles to freedom. 

What I Have to Say 

One of the many things I liked about this was that it was a that it's based on a true story. Some of the names and events are changed but the basic story of two black people travelling across America in search of freedom is the same. It's inspiring and made even more awesome by the fact that there was no "white saviour" in the entire thing. The entire journey was all down to Rosa, a black slave, taking advantage of her light skin to disguise herself as a white gentleman. And that is just the most beautiful thing I've read lately. 

Rosa felt very real as well. Her fear as she traveled, always worrying that she would be caught out was infectious and it made me root for her so much, because I couldn't stand the thought that she wouldn't succeed. 

The language used in the book was mostly okay. The N-word was used once and Rosa's husband was addressed as "boy" a few times, but there was a note in the back explaining the authors decision to use these words and how she had tried to hold back as much as she could without being unrealistic. I think. Obviously being white I don't know what it would be like to be a black person reading this book, so I can't really comment more than to say I respect the author's decision and hope it doesn't offend anyone. 

My thanks go to Barrington Stoke and Nina Douglas for providing me with this copy for review. 

Monday, 1 May 2017

The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 288
Publisher: Chicken House 
Released: 4th of May 2017 

Ami lives with her mother on an island where the sea is as blue as the sky. It’s all she knows and loves, but the arrival of malicious government official Mr Zamora changes her world forever: her island is to be made into a colony for lepers. Taken from her mother and banished across the sea, Ami faces an uncertain future in an orphanage. There she meets a honey-eyed girl named for butterflies, and together they discover a secret that will lead her on an adventure home. Ami must go back to the island of no return, but will she make it in time?

What I have to Say 

I think this was even more beautiful than the Girl of Ink and Stars. There was just something about the love involved in it. The way that Ami was fighting to get back to her mother. 

The treatment of Leprosy was really interesting. I didn't know much about it before, but it was really cool to see Ami's home, how the colony had a whole society with different words to talk about people with Leprosy because so much of the illness is based around slurs and misinformation. 

The only thing that I disliked was that the bad guy was portrayed with OCD and it was used a lot to show how scared he was of the disease. I understand completely how many people were scared of Leprosy. I have OCD, I know I would have reacted the same way as Mr Zamora. And it just made me so uncomfortable to have my illness portrayed with me, even though the main characters did pity him and say he was sick rather than hate him more for it. 

I liked the butterflies and the symbolism though. I want to be a butterfly zookeeper! 

My thanks go to Chicken House for providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 29 April 2017

An Italian Summer by Keris Stainton

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 288
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 4th of May 2017 

It's been a year since Milly, Elyse and Leonie's dad died, and a year since their last trip to Rome. Summer's here again, and once again they are heading with their mum to Italy - but what's it going to be like going without Dad? Rome still holds its familiar charms - the sun is still as warm, the gelato as delicious, the people as welcoming. But nothing is quite as it once was ... 

With grief still raw for all of them, Milly is facing the additional awfulness of having to see Luke again - gorgeous, gorgeous Luke, who she had a fling with last year, and who she made a total fool of herself with - or so she thinks. What's going to happen this time? What's more, things between Milly, her sisters and their mum are rocky - Leonie is being tempestuous and unpredictable, Elyse is caught up with her new boyfriend, and Milly feels like she just doesn't know how she fits in any more. 

Over one Italian summer, can Milly find a way back to the life she once had? 

What I Have to Say 

This was a good story but there just wasn't much to grip me and make me want to read on. I liked the way it addressed grief and mourning and the effects it can have on people, but that's all it was. A journey of characters and how they recover. And for me, those books just aren't really enough. 

The three sisters were really interesting and I liked the way that they were different from each other. I also liked the descriptions of Rome. It made me really want to go on holiday, so I think the best time to read this is when you're on holiday. It would make a really great beach read. 

This is all I really have to say on it. Like I said, it's a good story, but it just wasn't for me. 

It would make a great beach read though. 

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

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Pearl Thief by Elizabeth Wein

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 416 
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's Books 
Released: 4th of May 2017 

When fifteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart wakes up in the hospital, she knows the lazy summer break she’d imagined won’t be exactly like she anticipated. And once she returns to her grandfather’s estate, a bit banged up but alive, she begins to realize that her injury might not have been an accident. One of her family’s employees is missing, and he disappeared on the very same day she landed in the hospital.

Desperate to figure out what happened, she befriends Euan McEwen, the Scots Traveller boy who found her when she was injured, and his standoffish sister Ellen. As Julie grows closer to this family, she experiences some of the prejudices they’ve grown used to firsthand, a stark contrast to her own upbringing, and finds herself exploring thrilling new experiences that have nothing to do with a missing-person investigation.

Her memory of that day returns to her in pieces, and when a body is discovered, her new friends are caught in the crosshairs of long-held biases about Travellers. Julie must get to the bottom of the mystery in order to keep them from being framed for the crime.

What I Have to Say 

Mostly, this book made me want to read Code Name Verity again. I'd forgotten how awesome Julie was as a character. This book was amazing and I loved it, but not as amazing as Code Name Verity was. I think it would take a lot to beat Code Name Verity though. 

The story was so good though. It really showed prejudice but also in a way that showed the privalidge that Julie had. I think it was especially interesting because it showed the Traveller's feeling annoyed when Julie did things for them, even when there really no choice for her in certain cases. I think it really helps show that even though we have the best of intentions, we still have so much privilege and we have to acknowledge it. It's definitely one of those cases where having a book about prejudice written from the point of view of a privileged white girl can actually address the issues in a good way. 

The mystery was really good too. I love how Wein makes you think that you know what happened, at least to a certain extent and then throws in a new piece of evidence that completely changes everything. It wasn't as big a reveal as with Code Name Verity, but it was still pretty awesome. 

I definitely need to read Code Name Verity again now. 

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