Thursday, 31 August 2017

The Burning Girl by Claire Messud

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 304
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group (Fleet)
Released: 7th of September 2017 

Julia Robinson and Cassie Burnes have been friends since nursery school. They have shared everything, including their desire to escape the stifling limitations of their birthplace, the quiet town of Royston, Massachusetts. But as the two girls enter adolescence, their paths diverge: while Julia comes from a stable, happy, middle-class family, Cassie never knew her father, who died when she was an infant, and has an increasingly tempestuous relationship with her single mother, Bev. When Bev becomes involved with the mysterious Anders Shute, Cassie feels cruelly abandoned. Disturbed, angry and desperate for answers, she sets out on a journey that will put her own life in danger, and shatter her oldest friendship. 

What I Have to Say

I hate to be so harsh, but this book bored me a lot. I don't know if I'd have gotten through it if it hadn't been for review. Just so much of the book was just exposition and setting up the relationship between the two girls. It felt like nothing was really happening at all. 

And even when things were happening, the plot was kind of obvious. I guessed easily where Cassie had gone. It was just predictable and there wasn't much at all to keep me reading. 

I did like Cassie as a character though. Julia was a little bland, but Cassie was quite well written, at least at first. She became a bit of a cliché when she was trying to be cool and out at parties all the time, though it was made less so by Julia's insights into Cassie's life, such as the fact that Cassie wouldn't drink. 

I dunno. I just like books with a strong plot and this was more based around Cassie as a character. It wasn't for me. 

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

Monday, 28 August 2017

Moonrise by Sarah Crossan

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens 
Released: 7th of September 2017 

'They think I hurt someone. 
But I didn't. You hear?
Coz people are gonna be telling you
all kinds of lies.
I need you to know the truth.'

Joe hasn't seen his brother for ten years, and it's for the most brutal of reasons. Ed is on death row.

But now Ed's execution date has been set, and Joe is determined to spend those last weeks with him, no matter what other people think ...

What I Have to Say 

This one took me a while to get into. At first the characters didn't seem that likable and the story progressed really slowly. But as I got into it and it was getting closer to the execution date, it got more gripping. 

I really liked Joe as a character as the novel went on. He was so faithful to Ed and seemed to really care about his family even though they didn't really seem to treat him well. He spent so much money to go to Texas and see his brother who he hadn't really seen since he was really young and so only had vague memories of. He was willing to stay in Texas even though he was barely scraping by enough to eat. 

I still like the poetry-ish feel of the book, but it isn't as exciting as it was in One. It was new and unique then, but now it's a little less new. It's still cool and easy to read though. 

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

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 288
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens
Released: 7th of September 2017

Valor is under arrest for the attempted murder of the crown prince. Her parents are outcasts from the royal court, her sister is banished for theft of a national treasure, and now Valor has been sentenced to life imprisonment at Demidova, a prison built from stone and ice.

But that's exactly where she wants to be. For her sister was sent there too, and Valor embarks on an epic plan to break her out from the inside.

No one has escaped from Demidova in over three hundred years, and if Valor is to succeed she will need all of her strength, courage and love. If the plan fails, she faces a chilling fate worse than any prison ...

What I Have to Say 

This was a really great book full of daring escapades and unspeakable punishment. The relationship between the two sister was probably one of the best ones I have read, because they will do anything for one another, even risk their life. Valar does everything throughout the book with her sister in mind and doesn't stop caring about her for even a moment. 

The friendships formed with the other characters were great as well. There were good bonds formed between them, ones that you can only form by risking your lives for one another. 

Valar was such a great character as well. She was literally willing to do anything to achieve her goals, even when she feels like breaking. She's a strong, brave girl who doesn't let other people get in the way of rescuing her sister. 

I definitely want to read more about Valar. 

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

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 308 
Publisher: HQ
Released: 25th of July 2017 

Reality is in the eye of the beholder…
Even among the many unusual members of the travelling circus that has always been her home sixteen year old Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years.

This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all of their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival's Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real.

Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.
Now she must unravel the horrifying truth before all her loved ones disappear.

What I Have to Say 

This is my new favourite world. I was so sad to leave it. Both Gomorrah and the cities it was travelling through were so well built. The tension outside of Gomorrah with the people against Gomorrah and the people who reside within it made such an exciting background to such a personal story of family and loyalty. 

The illusions were wonderful. I loved the way that Sorina's family were introduced and how the illusions were all introduced through the performance. The emotions within their family quickly got intense after they started to be murdered. Aside from the rather creepy drawings throughout depicting how the murderer was planning to kill them, which were really unnerving but added nicely to the atmosphere of the book. 

Though I guessed the ending, it didn't feel predictable at all. It was such a brilliant plot, woven beautifully to create a creepy wonderful murder mystery. 

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

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.