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.