Monday, 21 August 2017

The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 324
Publisher: Penguin
Released: 13th of July 2017

From the present day . . . 

Applecote Manor captivates Jessie with it promise of hazy summers in the Cotswolds. She believes it's the perfect escape for her troubled family. But the house has an unsettling history, and strange rumours surround the estate.

to the fifties . . .

When teenage Margot and her three sisters arrive at Applecote during the heatwave of '59, they find their aunt and uncle still reeling from the disappearance of their daughter Audrey five years before.

The sisters are drawn into the mystery of Audrey's vanishing - until the stifling summer takes a shocking, deadly turn. Will one unthinkable choice bind them together, or tear them apart?

What I Have to Say 

I really enjoyed this book. The modern day story-line combined with the things that happened in the fifties made the story all the better. I'm not sure that a book without both thee storylines would have worked as well as it gave a lot more depth to the book and showed how much such a tragedy as a missing girl can haunt a place for so many years, even after everyone connected to the events is gone. 

I liked Margot a lot. Her story was my favourite I think I liked how torn she was. How much she missed Audrey and wanted her back, but how much her aunt unsettled her with the things they did together in Audrey's room to feel close to her. 

The mystery at the heart of the story was really compelling. With every thing of Audrey's that was found during the modern day construction work, with every new piece of evidence that Margot and her sisters found out I wanted more and more to know what happened. The conclusion of what happened as well was thrilling and interesting and it all came to a conclusion that was unexpected but that still made sense. 

Eve Chase is definitely a mystery writer I will look out for in the future. 

Saturday, 19 August 2017

S.T.A.G.S by M. A. Bennett

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 294
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 10th of August 2017 

Nine students. Three bloodsports. One deadly weekend.

It is the autumn term and Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St. Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S. Just when she despairs of making friends Greer receives a mysterious invitation with three words embossed upon on it: huntin' shootin' fishin'. When Greer learns that the invitation is to spend the half term weekend at the country manor of Henry de Warlencourt, the most popular and wealthy boy at S.T.A.G.S., she is as surprised as she is flattered.

But when Greer joins the other chosen few at the ancient and sprawling Longcross Hall, she realises that Henry's parents are not at home; the only adults present are a cohort of eerily compliant servants. The students are at the mercy of their capricious host, and, over the next three days, as the three bloodsports - hunting, shooting and fishing - become increasingly dark and twisted, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school...

What I Have to Say 

There are few books that can keep me up and reading late into the night these days. STAGS was the first one in a while, but it was just so good. I didn't want to stop reading, even when I knew there would be a while before the action got really good again. 

It was all just so ominous. Even when Greer was trusting Henry and putting the "accidents" that happened down to just bad luck, there was this background sense that they were being toyed with. I'm not sure how much that's because of what it says in the synopsis. If the synopsis left us questioning more over whether they are just genuinely accidents, would it have felt so ominous? It would be something I'd like to know. 

I really enjoyed the relationships between the characters.  The friendship that formed between the three victims and the way that they barely knew each other before, but being in the house drew them closer together. 

After the way it ended, I'm really hoping for a sequel. 

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

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Dragon Rider and Griffin's Feather by Cornelia Funke

Dragon Rider 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 400
Publisher: Chicken House
Released: 1st of February 1997

With lonely Ben aboard, brave dragon Firedrake seeks mythical place where silver dragons can live in peace. Over moonlit lands and sparkling seas, they meet fantastic creatures, summon up surprising courage - and cross a ruthless villain with an ancient grudge determined to end their quest. Only a secret destiny can save the dragons and bring them the true meaning of home.

The Griffin's Feather 

Pages: 416
Publisher: Chicken House 
Released: 6th of July 2017 

The last winged horses are on the brink of extinction. Three foals lie curled in their eggs in a sanctuary for threatened creatures, where a young dragon rider lives with his silver dragon. The foals are ill, and the pair volunteer to seek the only cure: a Griffin's feather. But Griffins, with the heads of eagles and bodies of lions, are a dragon's fiercest enemy, and live far across the world in the sweltering jungle. A dangerous and exciting adventure begins...

What I Have to Say 

I remember reading Dragon Rider when I was young. It probably was a few years after it came out, because I think I would have been a little too young for it when it came out in 1997, but I remember liking it immensely. So I was very excited to hear that not only were they reprinting it, but there was going to be a sequel as well. 

Rereading the first book was interesting. I could vaguely remember bits of it, but as it turned out, they were really only tiny bits of the plot. I remembered the brownies and a few things felt vaguely familiar, but other than some stuff that I had misremembered, that was about it. But it meant that I got to read it again with fresh eyes that didn't have a clue what would happen next. I loved it as much as I remember loving it the first time I read it, which I'm really glad wasn't something I'd misremembered! 

The second book was even better. I loved the descriptions of the Pegasus foals inside their eggs and the Griffins, even though they were so cruel. And FREEFAB. I love the idea of an organisation that helps keep these creatures hidden and protected in sanctuaries. The story was exciting and well written, but I think the thing that really makes it for me is all the different creatures. 

Cornelia Funke has shown us time and time again how perfect she is at making tiny details to fill a world to make it seem real and I can't wait to see what creatures she chooses to write about next. 

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

Monday, 14 August 2017

All the Ways the World Can End by Abby Sher

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 336
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 27th of July 2017 

Lenny is preparing for the apocalypse. Every night, she researches vacuum decay, designer pathogens, that inexplicable sleeping sickness knocking people out in Kazakhstan. Not many sixteen-year-olds are this consumed with the end of the world. But Lenny needs to have some sense of control. Her dad is dying of cancer. Her best friend Julian is graduating early and moving three states away. She's having to rehearse for a toe-curling interpretive dance show at school, and deal with her mum's indefatigable jolliness and smoothie-making in the face of the disaster they are confronting. The one thing keeping her hopeful is Dr Rad Ganesh - her father's oncologist. Surely Lenny can win him round to her charms - and he can save her father? 

What I Have to Say 

This was a good story with a lot of humour. Even in Lenny's obsessive research into the different ways that the world could end, as frightening as they were, there were jokes and comments and things that made them so obviously written by Lenny. It was a nice way to start each chapter and it was interesting to see how they changed with what happened throughout the book. 

All the characters were really strong too. Even though it might seem a little over the top sometimes, especially with the dance teacher, I like having that sort of thing, a character with a real sense of personality that adds to the humour. It makes for a lot of interesting ways in which they react to things and fleshes out the book so it doesn't seem to be just one or two characters who're holding everything up. 

This is a really serious subject, so I was really glad to see how they kept the humour up throughout the book, even when it could have gone really serious and depressing, there was a morbid joke or something to keep the mood up, even though it shouldn't be appropriate. 

This was definitely a really good book to read and I loved Lenny so much. It would be cool to have sequel though I don't know what it would be about. 

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

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Freshers Blog Tour - Best Friends

I am so happy to be hosting Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison for today's stop on the Fresher's blog tour. This book has meant so much to me, even though it is a very different look at University Life than I had, because it brought back so many memories of my own experience during Fresher's Week.

I had the best experience in Fresher's week and the memories are still strong even though it's getting to be quite some years ago now. But Fresher's week was the time when I met my best friend Katrina. She was alone and I was spending most of my time that week inviting people who looked lonely to join our group so they weren't left out.

Kat was the only friend who really stuck with me, but we spent the rest of our time at Uni stuck at the hip and I still see her all the time. I really know how my life would have gone if I didn't have Kat for a best friend.

Because of this, I've asked Tom and Lucy to talk about their fabulous friendship for their piece and how they've kept it so strong for so many years, especially after dating for a time(which is often the end of friendships, no matter how firm).

Probably the question we get the asked the most, regardless of what book we are promoting or who we are talking to, is ‘isn’t it weird to write a book with your ex?’ For everyone else it is definitely weird, it must be or we wouldn’t get asked about it so much. But it to us it doesn’t feel strange at all. We have known each other for almost twenty years. We’ve been to school together, been to uni together, lived through our twenties side by side and now into our thirties. In Freshers, there is a line where Phoebe says that she doesn’t have that many memories before she knew Luke Taylor, and in a way, that is true of us too. We were once interviewed by some young people in Holland and one of them asked Lucy what she thought of Tom. Lucy just stayed (quite awkwardly) quiet for a bit and then said she had ‘no idea’. The blogger thought it was a simple question – and it is. But the thing is in the same way you don’t consciously think about your elbow, we just don’t really think about each other that way. Your elbow is just always there and always has been and that is kind of how we are with each other. Sometimes we row, especially about timekeeping and Tom being miserable and Lucy not understanding the basic principles of English grammar and sometimes we laugh for ages but we are such a constant in each other’s lives that it just isn’t something to note. A lot of the time when we go for walks to think about plot or things about a book we are struggling with, we don’t really talk at all, sometimes for ages. 

We were friends before we went out – proper, actual mates. And when we decided to get together, we almost didn’t because we were so nervous about ruining our friendship. So we made a solemn vow in Tom’s parent’s kitchen that whatever happened between us, we would stay friends. And we have. Just because you realise that you aren’t right together in a relationship, doesn’t mean that you aren’t right to be loyal and supportive and there for each other for the rest of your lives. When you have shared as much as we have, it seems ridiculous to do anything else…

Before I go, I'd like to thank Tom and Lucy for writing such a lovely piece for me, Nina Douglas for inviting me to be a stop on the tour and you guys for reading. I hope you enjoy the rest of the tour!

Everybody Hurts by Joanna Nadin and Anthony McGowan

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 352
Publisher: ATOM 
Released: 3rd of August 2017 

Matt and Sophia live in the same city, but they come from opposite sides of the track. By rights they should never have met. They definitely should never have fallen in love at first sight, of all cliches.

But, to their great surprise, they do. That's the easy part. It's what to do next that they struggle with. 

Friends, family and circumstance are mostly against them. They betray themselves; then they betray each other. And in the end they learn, the hard way, what it takes for love to survive. 

It's true what they say. Everybody hurts sometimes. But sometimes, too, the pain is worth it.

What I Have to Say 

I liked this book more than I thought I would at first. The characters were the sort that you can grow to like very quickly. But while I enjoyed Joanna Nadin's bits very much, I think Anthony McGowan is a little too gritty an author for me. I don't enjoy the sorts of books that have fights with rubbish in and dead cats. They just aren't for me. 

Aside from that though, I did really enjoy the book. Both characters were well written and I loved the way they interacted. The side characters were good as well, setting a good scene for the novel, filling Sophia's posh life and Matt's slightly rougher life really well. I especially like the way their parents were so different, Sophia's quite strict uptight mother compared with the more relaxed parents of Matt. 

The story was very dramatic and really surprised me with it's twists and turns. I really enjoyed how it turned out. 

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

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 336
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Released: 24th of August 2017 

Pushed to the breaking point, Cara Burrows abandons her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can't afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied - by a man and a teenage girl.

A simple mistake on the part of the hotel receptionist - but Cara's fear intensifies when she works out that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can't possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving life sentences for her murder.

Cara doesn't know what to trust: everything she's read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody? And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life?

What I Have to Say 

I've enjoyed Sophie Hannah's books before and this one wasn't an exception. She built up the mystery so well from the very start, not only what happened to Melody Chapa, but also what happened to Cara at home, why was she running away? There were so many different things to be intrigued by that it kept you reading, interested in what would happen next. 

The Melody Chapa stuff was really interesting. Obviously as the main theme of the book, it was really prominent. It was funny to see the other characters in the book and how they were all drawn up into the mystery of whether the girl in the hotel room was Melody Chapa. I really liked the side characters in this book, possibly more than Cara herself. 

The mysteries around Cara were really interesting at first, but I was unsure about the character. She seemed a bit timid and suggestible, a housewife who suddenly had the thrill of independence, booking her secret holiday and running away from her family. It was good to see her grow over the course of the novel and change into someone more secure with voicing her own opinions. 

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

Monday, 7 August 2017

Breaking by Danielle Rollins

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 352
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens 
Released: 10th of August 2017 

Charlotte doesn't fit in with her two best friends, or with anyone else at The Underhill Preparatory Institute, her cut-throat school for the rich and gifted. But when those best friends die suddenly, Charlotte doesn't know where to turn.

Were they keeping secrets? Could Charlotte be the reason they did it? Because Charlotte has a secret of her own, and now she must decide how much she will risk to discover the truth.

Trigger Warnings: Suicide, cutting

What I Have to Say 

I thought that this would be more bitchy girls in prep girls cutting each other down, but what I got was so much better than that. There was a lot of intrigue and mystery, but there was also a lot of grief from Charlotte. Grief for the way her mother can't love her, grief for the loss of her two best friends. The first part of it is pretty introspective and it makes you wonder a lot why Charlotte stays at Underhill, despite the fact that there's the mystery of the "drink me" bottle. 

But that's the heart of the story. This is the story about the way that she changes. The way that she gains the confident to assert herself, whether that's just because of the fact that she drank something from a little bottle or the fact that she's finally realising that she can be her own person instead of endlessly failing to be what her mother wants her to. 

I think it's this character that makes the book more than anything else. Charlotte is a product of her mother's desperation for her to be smart and despite her mother being absent for most of the book, she is always there in the background of Charlotte's thoughts. And as Charlotte starts to change, she starts to go against her mothers wishes more and more. 

It ended in such an interesting way too. I really can't wait for the sequel to find out what happens next. 

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

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Tender Earth by Sita Brahmachari

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 432
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Book  
Released: 1st of June 2017 

Laila Levenson has always been the baby of the family, but now with her older siblings, Mira and Krish, leaving home just as she starts secondary school, everything feels like it's changing... can the reappearance of Nana Josie's Protest Book and the spirit it releases in Laila, her friends and her local community, help her find her own voice and discover what she truly believes in?

A powerful chime rings through Laila's mind, guiding her to walk the footsteps of the past on her way to discover her own future.

What I Have to Say 

This book was amazing. I loved the plot, I loved the theme, I loved Laila even if her actions were questionable at times. It was a beautiful story of a girl with a lot of change going on in her life, learning about the world and how to make a difference in it. With such strong story lines about race and protest, it is a brilliant book to put into the hands of teenagers who might need to learn how to stand up for what they believe in. 

Diversity is a massive thing in this book. I don't think there was a single character who wasn't diverse in some way, whether through race, religion or disability. It was just so great to see so many different people represented in the book and coming together through Laila. 

I loved whole protest book and the way Laila was learning and connecting with a grandmother she'd never met through it. It was a lovely story to have at the heart of the book and a great way to bring in the political climate that's going on at the moment. This book didn't shy away from showing the differences between people and how much racism is a part of our country right now. 

I haven't read the other books in this series, so this has really made me want to read them. This was such a fantastic book and everyone should read it. 

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

Monday, 31 July 2017

Another Place by Matthew Crow

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 304
Publisher: Atom
Released: 3rd of August 2017 

A small town. A missing schoolgirl. A terrible secret. And one girl's fight to survive.

Sixteen-year-old Claudette Flint is coming home from hospital after an escalating depression left her unable to cope. Released into the care of her dad, she faces the daunting task of piecing herself back together.

She may look unchanged; but everything's different. The same could be said about her seaside hometown: this close-knit community seems to be unspooling in the wake of the sudden disappearance of one of her schoolmates, Sarah.

As the police investigate and the press dig around for dirt, small town secrets start to surface - and Claudette must do everything in her power to keep her head above water. 

What I Have to Say 

Apart from a really, really accurate description of depression right at the very end of the book, this book didn't really have much of an impact on me. The story was enjoyable to read, but I didn't really have strong opinions on whether it was good or bad. It was just one of those in the middle books that was good enough to read but doesn't really go much further than that. 

I liked the main character, the depiction of her feelings felt accurate and very present throughout the book. She was easy to like, because it was obvious that she cared deeply about finding Sarah and her really bad depression periods were shown accurately but not in too much detail. Sometimes going into the nitty gritty detail of depression can be off-putting. In this book it more goes into the time lost when you're depressed. It's pictured like she just goes dark and stays in her room for days, which is exactly how it feels like when you emerge from deep depression like that. 

Really that's all I can say about this. It's obvious that a lot of thought went into this and it's got some really good descriptions of how it feels to be depressed, but as a story, I didn't find it particularly compelling. 

So if you want to understand depression, it's a great book, if you're looking for a story to get lost in you might want to pick up a different one. 

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

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Editing Emma by Chloe Seager

Synopsis (Goodreads

Pages: 368
Publisher: HQ
Released: 10th of August 2017 

When sixteen-year-old Emma Nash is ‘ghosted’ by the love of her life Leon Naylor, she does what any normal teenage girl would do…
Emma spends the summer lurking in her bedroom, avoiding all human contact (and the shower), surrounded by the collection of chewit wrappers she saved from packs Leon gave her, back when he actually acknowledged her existence…

But seeing Leon suddenly ‘In a relationship’ on Facebook with the perfect Anna, spurs Emma into action and she embarks on a mission to make positive changes to her life (or ‘edits,’ if you will) and vows to use the internet for more than obsessively stalking Leon’s activities! Instead, she will use it for good and noble causes like finding someone who will actually be nice to her, and recording her findings for the rest of the world to see (i.e. BFF Steph and her mum) on her new Editing Emma blog.

But Emma soon discovers her ‘habit’ is harder to break than she first thought – turns out she’s not the only one ‘editing’ herself online (thank you Tinder for finding her mum’s profile, age 35, really?) and that life through an Instagram filter isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. But it could be worse, she could have outed her best friend, accidentally chatted up a 12 year old boy and revealed to the world why Leon Naylor is worth no girl’s time or virginity… oh no wait, that’s exactly what happened…

What I Have to Say 

This book had good messages at the heart of it, but it had way too much stuff about sex and masturbation in it for me. I think it's good that it showed that girls masturbate as well as boys, but it just made me feel really awkward when Emma kept going on about how much she masturbated? I felt like it was just a little too much. It just felt like the whole book was about sex really. 

There were a lot of feminist issues addressed in the book that I approved of though. The story, behind all the boys and dating and masturbation is really about Emma finding herself. It's about her processing what happened with Leon and finding out that her methods to deal with it are really that great. I really felt there were some good messages in this book, especially towards the end. 

All in all though, I was just so put off by the sex stuff. I found it hard to empathise with Emma, even though I felt so sorry about her having to suffer through such a horrible way to be broken up with. By the end I liked her a bit better because she was a more developed character, but it's the beginning that invests you in a book or not. 

As an adult reading this, I do think that maybe actual teenagers would connect better with this book. 

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

Monday, 24 July 2017

Simply the Quest by Maz Evans

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 373
Publisher: Chicken House
Released: 3rd of August 2017 

Elliot and Virgo’s troubles are far from over: death-daemon
Thanatos and his scary mum are at large and determined to
destroy the world. As even more immortal allies and enemies
emerge, Virgo and Elliot must learn how to be heroes …

What I Have to Say 

After enjoying the first book so much, I'm sad to say that this one didn't catch my heart so much. I still enjoyed the basic concept and story lines, but I felt that some of the characters, like Hermes and Hercules were a little cringe-worthy. They're based on stereotypes of people, which maybe the younger readers would find more funny. But I just didn't like it. 

The rest was great though. Same Elliot, same Virgo. The main gods were a bit in the background as they'd gotten into a fight with Hera and had their powers taken, probably mostly to put the focus on the two teenagers. But it was still nice to see the gods around and bickering in the background. 

I'm starting to really like Virgo. I loved her to begin with, even if she was really snobby, but her character is having to adapt and learn as she struggles with mortality and it's cool to see her journey. 

This is still a really good series even if some of it annoyed me. 

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

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 367
Publisher: Chicken House Books 
Released: 3rd of August 2017 

Uni beckons. Phoebe can’t wait to be a fresher – especially since her crush from school will be there too. She’ll be totally different at Uni: cooler, prettier, smarter … the perfect potential girlfriend. She’ll reinvent herself completely. But Luke’s oblivious, still reeling from the fallout of the break-up with his ex. Thrown head first into a world of new friends, parties and social media disasters – can Phoebe and Luke survive the year, let alone find each other?

What I Have to Say 

Me and my friends at Uni were very different from Phoebe or Luke or any of the people they hang out with, but somehow this book captured the madness that was Fresher's week and the whole first term really. The ups, the down, the break-ups, the hook ups and just the whole experience of being away from home and living with people who you don't know. 

As with all of Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison's characters, I loved them all in their unique ways (except the ones we're not meant to like of course). I thought the whole stuff surrounding Luke and the football team was really interesting and a good thing to bring awareness to. Because it was gross and disgusting and they handled it well. 

One thing I will say though, which is not a criticism of the book really, but too many books about University involve binge drinking and parties. There aren't any books or even parts of books about the insane other stuff that happens. The groups who hang out and marathon Disney movies all night. Or who do other crazy stuff that doesn't involve drinking. In Freshers there was the Quidditch and there was one character who didn't drink, but it still made out that Uni is just all about binge drinking. It gives the wrong impression to people who don't drink but want to go to Uni. It is something that some people worry about and I think more needs to be written about non-drinking Uni students. 

My thanks go to Chicken House Books and Nina Douglas for providing me with a copy for this book for review. 

Monday, 17 July 2017

A Change is Gonna Come by Various

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: Stripes Publishing 
Released: 10th of August 2017 

Featuring top Young Adult authors alongside a host of exciting new talent, this anthology of stories and poetry from BAME writers on the theme of change is a long-overdue addition to the YA scene. Contributors include Tanya Byrne, Inua Ellams, Catherine Johnson, Patrice Lawrence, Ayisha Malik, Irfan Master, Musa Okwonga and Nikesh Shukla.

Plus introducing four fresh new voices in YA fiction: Mary Bello, Aisha Bushby, Yasmin Rahman and Phoebe Roy.

What I Have to Say 

This is a book that was needed in the world. As the Goodreads synopsis says, it was long-overdue. I agree with this statement completely. 

I loved the way it was structured with the two poems at the start and the end to frame it. I loved the stories in it, the beautiful story about a blind man saving the world with help of mysterious letters to a future boy, the wonderful one about two Muslim girls facing a bus ride to school after a big terrorist attack and how they both deal with it. There were just so many amazing stories in this book. There are two many to mention and I could say good things about every single one of them, but if I did then I would run out of space in this review. 

The main thing I think to say is that every single author in this book contributed a brilliant story from a different perspective and they came together to make something that the world has needed for a long, long time. 

This is a book that everyone should read. And I hope everyone is as touched by the stories as I was. 

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

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Murder in D Major and Death in D Minor

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 268 
Publisher: Henery Press 
Released: 13th of September 2017 

With few other options, African-American classical musician Gethsemane Brown accepts a less-than-ideal position turning a group of rowdy schoolboys into an award-winning orchestra. Stranded without luggage or money in the Irish countryside, she figures any job is better than none. The perk? Housesitting a lovely cliffside cottage. The catch? The ghost of the cottage's murdered owner haunts the place. Falsely accused of killing his wife (and himself), he begs Gethsemane to clear his name so he can rest in peace. Gethsemane's reluctant investigation provokes a dormant killer and she soon finds herself in grave danger. As Gethsemane races to prevent a deadly encore, will she uncover the truth or star in her own farewell performance?

Pages: 220
Publisher: Henery Press 
Released: 11th of July 2017 

Gethsemane Brown, African-American classical musician and expatriate to an Irish village, solved a string of murders, led a school orchestra to victory in a major competition, and got used to living with a snarky ghost. She can rest easy over the Christmas holiday. Right? Wrong. The ghost has disappeared, her landlord's about to sell her cottage to a hotel developer, and her brother-in-law is coming for a visit—with one day’s notice.

She scrambles to call her spectral roomie back from beyond and find a way to save the cottage from certain destruction. But real estate takes a backseat when her brother-in-law is accused of stealing a valuable antique. Gethsemane strikes a deal with a garda investigator to go undercover as a musician at a charity ball and snoop for evidence linking antiques to a forgery/theft ring in exchange for the investigator’s help clearing her brother-in-law. At the party, she accidentally conjures the ghost of an eighteenth-century sea captain, then ends up the prime suspect in the party host’s murder. With the captain’s help, she races to untangle a web of phony art and stolen antiques to exonerate herself and her brother-in-law. Then the killer targets her. Will she save herself and bring a thief and murderer to justice, or will her encore investigation become her swan song?

What I Have to Say 

These books were quick and easy reads, they were a wonderful cross genre between Supernatural fiction and Crime. Gethsemane was a really interesting character to read about and Eamon was just wonderful sarcastic and witty. I really missed him in the second book, even though the new ghost, the sea Captain was also really fun to read, though in different ways. 

I think I preferred the plot of the first book to the plot of the second though. I enjoyed getting to know Gethsemane's brother in law, I just didn't feel as interested in the crime. I'm not really sure why. There was plenty of tension and intrigue, but I didn't get into it. Perhaps because I liked Eamon so much. 

Both books though were thrilling, intense and well written. I loved how Irish everything was because Ireland is a place that I haven't been and really like to read about. I also really liked the fact that Gethsemane was black and American. It was nice to see Ireland through her eyes and her race really contributed to the mystery and crime in the second book.

I really like this series and will definitely keep reading it.

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

Monday, 10 July 2017

Her Last Breath by Tracy Buchanan

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 394
Publisher: Avon Books UK
Released: 12th of June 2017

A fifteen-year-old girl has gone missing. They say Poppy O’Farrell has run away from her celebrity parents, and the media is in a frenzy. But none of this has anything to do with successful lifestyle blogger Estelle Forster . . . So why would someone send her a picture of the missing girl – and a note, claiming to know Estelle’s secrets?

One small photograph will push Estelle’s pristine life to the brink of disaster. To find out who is threatening her, Estelle must return to her coastal hometown and the shameful past she thought was long behind her.

Estelle knows there’s more to Poppy’s disappearance than teenage rebellion. A dangerous game is being played, and the answers lie in the impenetrable community she once called her own.

But how will anyone believe her, if she can’t tell them the truth?

What I Have to Say 

This book was a struggle to read. I enjoyed parts of it, but it dragged a lot. I didn't really like the character at all. I get what the author was doing with her and how everything about her past added up to create who she is, but I just didn't like her at all. 

The mystery didn't really grab me at all either. I don't really know why. I think because Estelle didn't really know Poppy there was none of the drama that books about missing children often have. I don't know. I just didn't get into it. 

I hated the ending as well. It was screwed up and I felt like the stuff that was revealed about Estelle at the end just came out of the blue. I think maybe this type of reveal doesn't really work with a third person narrator or at least they should have had more hints and foreshadowing. 

My thank go to Netgalley and Avon Books UK for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The Death House by Sarah Pinborough

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 288
Publisher: Gollancz
Released: 12th of November 2016 

Toby's life was perfectly normal...until it was unravelled by something as simple as a blood test. 

Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House; an out-of-time existence far from the modern world, where he, and the others who live there, are studied by Matron and her team of nurses. They're looking for any sign of sickness. Any sign of their wards changing. Any sign that it's time to take them to the sanatorium. 

No one returns from the sanatorium. 

Withdrawn from his house-mates and living in his memories of the past, Toby spends his days fighting his fear. But then a new arrival in the house shatters the fragile peace, and everything changes. 

Because everybody dies. It's how you choose to live that counts

What I Have to Say 

This book was good, but I didn't get caught up in it in the way I do with most things. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, I just didn't really care about what happened. I had no real curiosity about anything, which as there wasn't that much explained to us about the illness or anything really other than hints about the society that has led to the creation of the Death House, it's probably a good thing that I wasn't anxious to know more. 

I didn't really like Toby that much really. He was a little dull and I guess that was partly from the depression of being in a house like that, just waiting to die. But Clara, I liked much better. She was lively and she climbed trees and she seemed to genuinely care about the other characters. I liked seeing her make Toby a better person. 

The background characters were more interesting as well. I really liked Will and Elinor and some of the other smaller characters. 

I think I'd have liked it much better if they were actually fighting against it more. It wasn't that nothing happened, but most of the plot just centred around the characters interacting with each other and there wasn't much to grip me, 

It's a good book if you like good relationships between characters, but otherwise I just wasn't into it. 

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

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Just an Update

As I'm very busy and going through a stressful time at the moment, I'm finding it a struggle to get through the books needed to keep this blog running with three posts a week. So until I get back on track, I'll be dropping down to just the Monday and the Thursday posts.

All the books that I have agreed to review, will be reviewed, it's just that some may be a little delayed.

I'm sorry for having to do this and hopefully I'll get back on track again soon enough.

Lily xx

Monday, 3 July 2017

The Woman in the Wood by Lesley Pearse

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 387
Publisher: Penguin UK
Released: 3rd of July 2017

Fifteen-year-old twins Maisy and Duncan Mitcham have always had each other. Until that fateful day in the wood...

One night in 1960, the twins awake to find their father pulling their screaming mother from the house. She is to be committed to an asylum. It is, so their father insists, for her own good.

The twins are sent to the cold and distant grandmother's home, Nightingales - a large house deep in the New Forest countryside. Left to their own devices they explore, find new friends and first romances. That is until the day Duncan doesn't come home from the woods. Nor does he return the next day. Or the one after that.

When the bodies of other young boys are discovered in the surrounding area the police appear to give up hope of finding Duncan alive. With Mrs Mitcham showing little interest in her grandson's disappearance, it is up to Maisy to discover the truth. And she knows just where to start. The woman who lives alone in the wood about whom so many rumours abound. A woman named Grace Deville.

What I Have To Say 

I like Lesley Pearse books a lot. They're thrilling stories with great plot twists. But when I last read a book by her, I wasn't a reviewer so I wasn't really analysing the books in so much detail. So I was disappointed about a lot of things. 

The thing that I was most disappointed by was the characters. From a superficial viewpoint, her characters are interesting and intriguing and have great quirks. But all of this is explained to the reader. It's a very good example of an author telling the reader about characters rather than showing them. I found this especially with the children. Maisy got more of a personality as time went on and Grace Deville had some subtitles, but other than that the characters were really hard to engage with. 

And they never seemed to react to anything! I think there was one point when Maisy got angry, but other than that they were all so calm and reasonable and understanding of each others actions. It just felt so sensible and unrealistic. Especially for the children. 

I think Lesley Pearse writes great books for people wanting a beach read, a travel read or just a shut your brain of read. This is a great book about seeing passed prejudice, but it's best not to expect too much from the characters. 

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

Saturday, 1 July 2017

A Storm of Strawberries by Jo Cotterill

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 240
Publisher: Piccadilly Press 
Released: 29th of June 2017 

Darby loves summer on her family's strawberry farm - but is the weather about to turn?

Darby's favourite things are listening to music - preferably The Beatles - picking strawberries on the farm and spending time with her big sister. She is looking forward to doing all three over the long weekend, but when Kaydee has a friend to stay and the sunshine disappears, everything gets turned on its head. When the storm clears, will Darby find everything is back to normal, and what is 'normal' anyway?

What I Have to Say 

I loved Darby so much. Even with all the drama going on. Even with all the worries and shouting, reading things through Darby's point of view made everything feel warm and cuddly. Because even when she's upset, Darby's world is simple. She knows what she likes and what she doesn't. And she loves her family so much. It's beautiful and endearing and it just made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. 

It was really interesting that a lot of the drama was happening in the background. The parents were rushing around trying to protect the Strawberries from the storm and there were various snatches of conversation around that, but Darby zoned in and out of it, mostly staying in her own world with her painting and her music. It was an interesting way to tell the story. 

Lissa was a very interesting element of the book, which I won't say much of in case of spoilers. But it was such a disruption of everything in Darby's world that it was interesting to see them interact and how their attitudes towards each other changed throughout the course of the book. 

This book had so much to say and such a beautiful way of saying it. I think a lot of people need to remember that sometimes things are really just that simple. 

My thanks go to Piccadilly Press for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 29 June 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Released: 13th of July 2017 

The arranged-marriage YA romcom you didn't know you wanted or needed... 

Meet Dimple.

Her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and begin her plan for tech world domination.

Meet Rishi.

He's rich, good-looking and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she's got other plans...

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

What I Have to Say 

This was such a cute book. I loved the concept other it. Even though it's an awful idea that Dimple's parents just sent this boy to meet her without telling her anything about it, it was just funny, the way it all played out and the way it was written. It showed a lot about both of the characters and I think definitely qualifies as a nice "meet cute" story to tell, even if it was rather upsetting for them when it was actually happening. 

I think they showed the culture very well in this book. I had to google a lot of things, especially the clothing that was referenced so that I had an idea of what they were talking about. There were just small references in so much of it, which showed how much culture was involved in both Dimple and Rishi's lives. 

The feelings that Dimple had were so real as well. Rishi was easy to empathise with as well, but Dimple's struggle between what she wants out of life and what her parents seem to want for her, how she can't see the middle ground because she's so sure that she wants to focus on her career rather than marrying or even dating boys, was just so real and interesting. 

This book was funny, cute and really showed a wonderful snapshot of India culture in America. 

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

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