Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 240
Publisher: Puffin
Released: 4th of October 2018 

The original, magical story with a brand new cover from Quentin Blake! 

October 2018 marks 30 years since Matilda was published! This brand new jacket comes with a never-before-seen illustration of Matilda as the Chief Executive of the British Library - one of the careers that Quentin Blake himself has imagined that Matilda might have at 30 years old.

Matilda Wormwood
A remarkable child with a magical mind.

Mr and Mrs Wormwood
Matilda's parents - liars, swindlers and TV addicts.

Miss Trunchbull
Headmistress of Crunchem Hall and the world's biggest bully.

Bruce Bogtrotter
Chocolate-cake-eating extraordinaire!

These are just some of the unforgettable characters from this classic story by the world's number one storyteller - now with a brand-new cover design from Quentin Blake to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the publication of Matilda.

What I Have to Say 

I grew up as a book loving child in a house full of books. Matilda was one of my favourite movies. I must have watched it hundreds of times over the year. So it seems crazy to me that up until now I hadn't actually read the original book! I have no idea why I never read it, I think it's a book I would have adored as a child. 

Unpopular opinion time: I never really got along with Roald Dahl. I read a lot of the books but there were only a couple that I actually liked and if I'm honest, even those I liked the movies more than the books. I just find them a bit gross. The descriptions of a lot of the characters, especially the villains, the way that Dahl as the narrator talks about the kids... Reading this as an adult, made the bits that I didn't like really clear to me. Especially as I could compare the bits I really enjoyed about Matilda to the bits  I really didn't like about the other books. Such as the Twits, which I really hated and is mostly comprised of the gross grotty bits.

Aside from my dislike of Roald Dahl, I really did enjoy reading this book. Despite how I feel about it, Dahl is a massive part of my childhood and it really took me back to that and to the movie that I really loved. It was nice to see the new illustrated cover by Quentin Blake (be sure to check out the other covers that have been released for the 30th anniversary) and it's so great to finally know that I've read this book and what I've thought about it. 

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


Sunday, 28 October 2018

Spooky Reads for Halloween!

If you've been a regular reader of this blog for a while, you might know that I'm a complete wuss when it comes to scary stuff. Books are easier for me than movies which tend to give me sleepless nights because I can't get the imagines out of my head, but some books still scare me so much.

That said, there are some scary books that I've really loved, so here are a few of the ones I'd recommend.

The Screaming Staircase (Lockwood and Co.) by Jonathon Stroud 

When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood and Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . . .

Some of these books have scared the life out of me and left me reading until daylight because I'm scared to turn the lights off, others have been milder, but it's still a series I really enjoy. The characters and plots are worth being so scared and yeah okay, maybe I enjoy it just a little. 

I tend to find these books alternate with the first, third ect. being super scary but the second, fourth ect. being a lot milder. I'm not sure if this is deliberate or if it has just happened to land that way, but for me it's helps me feel prepared. I prefer the milder ones, but they're all fantastic. 

The Name of the Star (Shades of London) by Maureen Johnson 

Jack the Ripper is back, and he's coming for Rory next....

Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him - the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target...unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables.

I read these so long ago now, it's high time for a reread! I didn't find these books particularly scary. They were more fantasy/ adventure to me. But there's ghosts so they totally count.

The Name of the Star was my favourite, mostly because of Jack the Ripper. I loved to see an American take on England though. It was interesting to see my country and the boarding school experience through a different perspective. Maureen really did her research well though and has been over here a lot so I would say they're pretty accurate in terms of Britishness.

As I Descended by Robin Talley

“Something wicked this way comes.”

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple—even if no one knows it but them.

Only one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey.

Golden child Delilah is a legend at the exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. She runs the school, and if she chose, she could blow up Maria and Lily’s whole world with a pointed look, or a carefully placed word.

But what Delilah doesn’t know is that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything—absolutely anything—to make their dreams come true. And the first step is unseating Delilah for the Kingsley Prize. The full scholarship, awarded to Maria, will lock in her attendance at Stanford―and four more years in a shared dorm room with Lily.

Maria and Lily will stop at nothing to ensure their victory—including harnessing the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school.

But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what is imagined, the girls must decide where they draw the line. 

This one frightened me a lot. I read it during the day so I luckily was able to get the stuff out of my head before I had to go to bed, but there were some really creepy scenes. 

This a retelling of Macbeth but set in an elite boarding school and Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are both girls. It's lesbian Macbeth! I loved it so much: it was an amazing retelling and knowing the original play fairly well made me really enjoy seeing the way it was adapted to the setting and different versions of the characters. 

So that's just three of my top spooky reads.  Have you read them? Do you want to? What are your favourite books when you're in the mood for something a little creepy? Let me know in the comments! 

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 374 
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Released: 6th of November 2018 

Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It's the highest honor they could hope for...and the most cruel.

But this year, there's a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she's made of fire.

In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it's Lei they're after--the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king's interest.

Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king's consort. But Lei isn't content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable--she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she's willing to go for justice and revenge.

Trigger Warnings: Kidnap, sex trafficking, forced prostitution, rape, animal death.

What I Have to Say 

I have been looking forward to this book ever since I heard about it, which was a very long time ago. Every step in between from seeing the cover to finally getting hold of a copy at YALC this year has added to the excitement. It was so, so amazing to read it after all this time. I'm so glad it was good, because with that amount of hype it would have been a huge letdown! But it lived up to my excitement and now I'm desperate for the sequel. 

So lets talk about girls. This book is LGBT and the girl that Lei falls in love with is my new crush. A beautiful, bad-ass girl with hidden secrets that just make me love her more. The LGBT representation in YA has been so much more geared towards male pairings that it's just so amazing for me to have such a beautiful fantasy book that has two girls who are madly in love at it's centre. 

The world building was beautiful. Gorgeous and inspired and so wonderful to see so many of the different parts of Asia represented in the girls. I hope we'll get to see more of the world in the next book. I could do a whole paragraph on the world-building, but the girls are at the heart of this novel and I've only had time to talk about two of them! Every one of the girls is wonderful. I loved all of them. It was interesting because I couldn't help but love each character for the way they affected me, but at the same time I found myself hating a couple of them because of their actions.  I am fully invested in all of them though. I want to see them reach their full potential and get out of the horrible position they're in!

I really cannot wait to find out what happens next. These girls have far from reached their full potential, because like the title says, they may be paper, but at their hearts they are fire.

My eternal gratitude goes to Hodderscape for having ARCS on their stall at YALC. 

Thursday, 25 October 2018

A Little Bird Told Me by Marianne Holmes

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 272 
Publisher: Agora Books 
Released: 13th of September 2018 

Besides, if you were one half evil, wouldn't you want to know about the other half? 

In the scorching summer of 1976, Robyn spends her days swimming at the Lido and tagging after her brother. It’s the perfect holiday – except for the crying women her mum keeps bringing home.

As the heatwave boils on, tensions in the town begin to simmer. Everyone is gossiping about her mum, a strange man is following her around, and worst of all, no one will tell Robyn the truth. But this town isn’t good at keeping secrets…

Twelve years later, Robyn returns home, to a house that has stood empty for years and a town that hasn’t moved on, forced to confront the mystery that haunted her that summer.

And atone for the part she played in it.

Trigger Warnings: Domestic abuse, some child abuse, animal death, stalking

What I Have to Say 

This book was pretty good if a bit predictable in a lot of ways. I think by the end there wasn't much that I actually hadn't guessed. But I really liked the characters and the plot was compelling. Sometimes I do find it nice to have a mystery story when I guess a lot of it. It makes me feel clever. Mostly though, this was just a nice relaxing read. It was a good story that I didn't have to work too hard to understand.

I liked Robyn a lot as a character. The changes between her sections when she's older and when she's younger are really well defined. It's easy within seconds of starting a chapter to know which ones are which. (They were also alternating so it's really not hard to keep track, but my concentration has been really bad this week and a couple of times I forgot and read a few sentences before I remembered). It's really great to see two different voices for the same person that have distinct differences but without any doubt that it's the same person. 

The other characters were good as well. The theme of hidden abuse running through the whole story was perfectly done. The way that it was all connected together worked really well and highlighted how bad spousal abuse can be for many women and children stuck in terrible circumstances. 

 3.5 stars

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

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384 
Publisher: HQ Young Adult 
Released: 1st of November 2018 

One thousand years ago, the great Kami Dragon was summoned to grant a single terrible wish—and the land of Iwagoto was plunged into an age of darkness and chaos.

Now, for whoever holds the Scroll of a Thousand Prayers, a new wish will be granted. A new age is about to dawn.

Raised by monks in the isolated Silent Winds temple, Yumeko has trained all her life to hide her yokai nature. Half kitsune, half human, her skill with illusion is matched only by her penchant for mischief. Until the day her home is burned to the ground, her adoptive family is brutally slain and she is forced to flee for her life with the temple’s greatest treasure—one part of the ancient scroll.

There are many who would claim the dragon’s wish for their own. Kage Tatsumi, a mysterious samurai of the Shadow Clan, is one such hunter, under orders to retrieve the scroll…at any cost. Fate brings Kage and Yumeko together. With a promise to lead him to the scroll, an uneasy alliance is formed, offering Yumeko her best hope for survival. But he seeks what she has hidden away, and her deception could ultimately tear them both apart.

With an army of demons at her heels and the unlikeliest of allies at her side, Yumeko’s secrets are more than a matter of life or death. They are the key to the fate of the world itself. 

What I Have to Say 

This was basically an anime with the unique style and twists I've come to know and love from Julie Kagawa. Though without the actual animation bit, naturally. Kagawa has taken some of the stereotyped characters from Japanese anime and given them her own touch, managing to keep the characters that anime fans know while giving them a touch that is so specific to Kagawa's writing.

This book is everything I've ever wanted. Kagawa has brought in so many myths and creatures from Japan and brought them to life in a beautiful and vivid world. I love the epic quest style story and the twists and turns that used to create this story. It's so amazing how a simple fantasy structure can be so revitalised with a different type of mythology to draw from for inspiration. 

Yumeko is the sweetest. I love her so much. From the first page, I was drawn into her character, how she had the trickster side of the fox but there was also a side of her that was a sweet kind caring human girl that peeked out through her actions at some points during the book. I also love the fact that her strength is shown so much through tactics and tricks rather than outright fighting. It's become a bit of a problem with YA that all of the supposedly "strong" female characters are strong just because they can fight. It's great to see someone who's definitely a strong female character but who relies more on illusions and tricks as well as her knack for persuasion to get what she wants. 

Tatsumi is great as well, though maybe a little predictable that he's falling into a romance with Yumeko. And Okame! So many sarcastic comments about being a ronin (disgraced samurai) and his drinking and general roguish nature. I laughed out loud so much at some of the jokes in these books, especially some of Okame and Yumeko's lines. 

This was one of those books that I almost didn't want to pick up each day because it meant I was closer and closer to finishing it and having no more to read. I can't wait for the sequel. 

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

Sunday, 21 October 2018

My Reading Companions

It's Sunday! Hope you're all having a nice lazy day with lots of time for reading. I thought this would be a nice time to do a little post about my pets. Everyone wants pictures of cute pets right! So allow me to introduce my reading companions and what they add to my reading experience (gotta keep it book related somehow right?)

Meet Hera (left) and Jess (right), two Cocker Spaniels who live with me and my family. We've had them for quite a while now, re-homing them both when they were puppies.

Hera is the oldest, we got her in 2009 and she's been my baby ever since. She hangs out curls up with me on the couch, sleeps in my bed and follows me out the room in order to look over me when I'm away from the rest of the family. My favourite thing is reading in bed with her nestled up with me under the covers. You don't know comfort until you've had a dog snuggled against you as a hot water bottle.

Jess is less good at being a reading companion, despite her being the one pictured snuggling with me in the picture at the top of the page (it's a very posed picture and Hera won't snuggle on command). One of my strongest memories of her as a puppy was trying to read Teri Terry's The Book of Lies on my kindle while I was watching over her. She kept licking the screen and losing my place by turning the pages. It wasn't so funny at the time but now it's a good memory. Nowadays though, she does sometimes come settle in the basket I have for them in my room, so she has become better at allowing me time to read as she's grown up.

Neither of them have ever destroyed a book. Hera did have a run in with one when she was a puppy, but she didn't harm it and luckily it was only one particular book she wanted. Jess will steal everything from forks to wet wipes, phones to make up brushes, but luckily books have never held any fascination for her so they're both completely safe in our house full of books!

For me, my dogs are truly the best company when it comes to reading I love having my dogs with me when I'm reading and just the sound of their breathing helps me relax so much. I can't imagine what my life would be like without dogs.

Do you have any stories about reading with pets? Or just stories about pets? I'd love to hear about them in the comments! 

Saturday, 20 October 2018

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 336 
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 
Released: 18th of October 2018 

It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods. 

Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.

The only thing is: they didn’t do it. 

On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.

Trigger Warnings: Animal Death, rehab, hoarding, sacrificial style murder 

What I Have to Say 

This book was intense. I loved everything about it from the prologue to that ending (that ending! Okay I'm also a little furious about that ending. But it was completely perfect.) The story was so intriguing, knowing virtually nothing about the suspects except who didn't do it (though maybe they did and it's all just a ruse to make you sure that it's not them?). 

I think seeing how the people who have been accused or arrested, but not convicted of a crime, are treated is a new favourite thing to read about in crime novels. It's so awful how people just assume that person is guilty from the moment they're arrested, despite the mistakes that police can make and it's such an interesting thing to show. These two girls have gone through so much harassment and worse at the hands of a community that is so sure that they're guilty; the way they've suffered and found their own ways of escape for five years, it's emotional but so fascinating to read.  It just makes it so interesting to see a story start from there and work through them trying to prove their innocence. 

I loved the excerpts of Lovelorn and the fanfiction that the girls wrote as well. Especially as it was so integral to the plot. It was great hunting for details in every excerpt to try and work out whether it was important. The only thing I'd say that was not so great about this book was how gory some of it was. 

Honestly, if you're still unsure about whether to read this book, read the prologue. It left me breathless with excitement for the rest of the book. 

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

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Soulbinder by Sebastien de Castell

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 4th of October 2018 

Kellen and his murderous squirrel cat, Reichis, are on their own. They've heard rumour of a mythical monastery, known as the Ebony Abbey. It's a place that outsiders can never find - but Kellen is getting desperate. He's been told that the monks inside the Ebony Abbey know more about the Shadowblack than anyone else - and that they even know how to cure it.

Then Kellen and Reichis are separated and for the first time, Kellen must face the world alone - and venture deeper into shadow magic than he ever knew he could.

What I Have to Say 

This book hurt my heart a lot. For one thing, Kellen started off not knowing if a couple of his friends were dead and we were kept in suspense through most of the book!! I'm not going to tell you which friends or if they survived but it was a really rough ride! I teared up several times. It really reminded me just how much I loved these characters and how much I never want anything bad to happen to any of them ever! Too bad these books are basically about Kellen and his friends suffering through various attempts on their lives! 

I've said before how much I adore this series. I've mentioned that Kellen just feels like such a realistic character and how awesome Reichis is (I was gonna say cute but then I thought he might decide to eat my eyeballs if I said that! I'm pretty sure the fact that he's trapped between the pages of a book wouldn't be enough to stop a squirrelcat!). I don't want to keep writing the same post over and over again for each book. But I don't have much else to say really. The books are so amazing and they've kept such a great standard for the whole series. There's only a few series that have been able to maintain the same level of enthusiasm from me for this long. 

I think something that did hit me on this retelling was how good the overarching narrative was. I was fortunate enough to meet De Castell at a blogger meet earlier this month and he talked about how Kellen's story is connected very closely to his own feelings of being Canadian and growing older to find out how badly the native Canadian population have been (and still are) treated. I've always liked that it's a story that shows a people who have invaded and basically wiped out the people who owned the lands they inhabit and the fact that it really doesn't shy away from this fact and the horror that Kellen feels to be Jan'tep because of this, but I think that after hearing the author talk about it, it felt more prominent to me. It's a really important subject matter and I'm really glad to see people writing about it when so many people try to forget or hide it. 

Do I really need to say go read this series again? What are you waiting for, it's fantastic!? 

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

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

What If It's Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 433
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's UK
Released: 18th October 2018 

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is? 

What I Have to Say 

This is the perfect blend of an exciting, beautiful love story and the more realistic portrait of how hard relationships can actually be. It's a romance to gush over with Arthur and Ben seeming to be so, so perfect for one another; meeting through a twist of fate; finding one another again against all odds, but it doesn't shy away from the fact that dating is hard. Dates can go wrong easily, the stuff you planned can be something the other person isn't good with, the restaurant you picked can be all wrong and in the end, there may be compatibility issues that need to be worked out. But despite showing all the roadblocks that can come between two people starting a relationship, What If It's Us continues to keep a hopeful feel to it that one day, these two wonderful boys can work it all out! 

 I loved Arthur and Ben so much. Their individual lives and family and friends were so well built up around them. It added so much to the story to see what their lives were like. Sometimes in books like this I find that the characters can be whisked very quickly from their home lives or have vague friends and family who are never really built up. I loved the fact that not only did Arthur and Ben have such well built up families, they spent time with them, they informed their characters, it showed exactly where they came from and the differences between them. 

I loved the ending. I can't go into why I loved it without spoiling it and I don't know how happy other people are with it, because it could have disappointed some people, but personally I thought it was brilliant and completely in  keeping with the whole style of the book. 

This is definitely the big LGBT release of the year and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did (though we need more LGBT books about girls!!!!!). 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster for providing me with copy for review. 

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Books That Make Me Happy

We all have certain books, series and authors that we go to when we want a book that we can really relax and enjoy. Those books that you can just pick up and sink into like you're coming home. They just give you a  buzz, a feeling of complete calm that washes over you.

Since it's now autumn, the season of cosy jumpers and reading by the fire, I thought it would be a perfect time to share a few of mine with you.

Holly Bourne 

Obviously Holly Bourne has to be the top of the list. Her writing is so relaxing and so familiar. Every single one of her books has been fantastic and I know that this will continue. Her writing is full of humour and feminism and such strong beautiful characters who feel like your best friends even when you're meeting them for the first time. 

Leigh Bardugo 

Another of my favourite authors and a slight more perilous series of books, Leigh Bardugo writes characters who especially in Six of Crows are very awful people. But you can fall into their story and lives and let yourself get lost in it all. Warbringer, her Wonder Woman novel, even more so, because obviously, Diana Prince perfect. 

Robin Stevens 

Any time I'm reading this series, I'm happy. Daisy and Hazel are two of my favourite characters in the universe. I can't even choose between them (I mean my first instinct is Daisy, but then there's Hazel? How can I leave out Hazel?). Daisy is the ballsy, excitable, spotlight lit girl, who possibly a little too excited by murder and Hazel is the steadfast, reliable girl who you feel would never let you down.

A cup of tea, a piece of cake and a Wells and Wong mystery is my idea of a perfect day. 

Anna James 

A new favourite, but Tilly and The Bookwanderers was absolutely the same feeling. Pages & Co. is a place where I want to live and Tilly's life is one I would love to have. Just reading about this magical cosy bookshop where you can curl up and read in a nice sofa between the shelves made me feel a hundred times more cosy and happy, instantly. 

These are just four, of so so many books that make me feel this way and this is just one post of many. I'm not sure exactly when I'll share some more, but keep checking in to see more of the books that make me happy. 

What books would be on your list of comfort books? Do any of these four make you feel the same? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments! 

Saturday, 13 October 2018

The Towering Sky by Katharine McGee

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 320
Publisher: Harper Collins 
Released: 6th of September 2018 

Welcome back to New York, 2119. A skyscraper city, fueled by impossible dreams, where the lives of five teenagers have become intertwined in ways that no one could have imagined.

Leda just wants to move on from what happened in Dubai. Until a new investigation forces her to seek help—from the person she’s spent all year trying to forget.

Rylin is back in her old life, reunited with an old flame. But when she starts seeing Cord again, she finds herself torn: between two worlds, and two very different boys.

Calliope feels trapped, playing a long con that costs more than she bargained for. What happens when all her lies catch up with her?

Watt is still desperately in love with Leda. He’ll do anything to win her back—even dig up secrets that are better left buried.

And now that Avery is home from England—with a new boyfriend, Max—her life seems more picture-perfect than ever. So why does she feel like she would rather be anything but perfect?

In this breathtaking finale to The Thousandth Floor trilogy, Katharine McGee returns to her vision of 22nd-century New York: a world of startling glamour, dazzling technology, and unthinkable secrets. After all, when you have everything… you have everything to lose.

What I Have to Say 

I am really going to miss these teens and their drama. It was a really great conclusion. It wrapped up everything despite all the tangled mess of the whole thing. I'm still just not a fan of Avery and Atlas, but I loved Avery's ending otherwise. I've always been interested in her story of fame and perfection and how trapped she was by being Avery Fuller, so it was really nice that there was a resolution for that and not just the relationship with Atlas. I loved her so much better in Oxford with Max, but I didn't expect much to come from that, so I'm not that disappointed. I'm fairly happy with how things turned out. 

The same can be said of the other characters. They all had really good conclusions, getting things that they wanted but also making sacrifices. I especially liked Watt's ending, I'd really like to see a sequel about him and how he copes with what happened at the end of the book. 

The ending itself was a roller-coaster. Through all the books there've been shocking twists and turns and new things to throw things into chaos, and this book definitely delivered exactly what I've come to expect from Katharine McGee, something completely unexpected! 

I really do think this was a fantastic series, despite the incest. A fantastic murder mystery series in such a unique setting. 

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

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Jack of Hearts (and Other Parts) by Lev A.C. Rosen

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 352 
Publisher: Penguin 
Released: 30th of October 2018 

My first time getting it in the butt was kind of weird. I think it's going to be weird for everyone's first time, though.

Meet Jack Rothman. He's seventeen and loves partying, makeup and boys - sometimes all at the same time. His sex life makes him the hot topic for the high school gossip machine. But who cares? Like Jack always says, 'it could be worse'.

He doesn't actually expect that to come true.

But after Jack starts writing an online sex advice column, the mysterious love letters he's been getting take a turn for the creepy. Jack's secret admirer knows everything: where he's hanging out, who he's sleeping with, who his mum is dating. They claim they love Jack, but not his unashamedly queer lifestyle. They need him to curb his sexuality, or they'll force him.

As the pressure mounts, Jack must unmask his stalker before their obsession becomes genuinely dangerous...

What I Have to Say 

This book was so filthy! I probably should have expected it more, but I didn't expect it to be quite so filled with sex. The sex advice column was really good though and a great resource for people look for advice about all sorts of sex things. It sucks that kids, especially gay kids, have to hunt so hard for this sort of information, but now there's a handy book complete with an addictingly creepy stalker plot to make it a good read. The only thing missing was advice for lesbians, maybe in the sequel one of the gay girls in the background could take over the column for a couple of weeks and dispense wisdom about being safe with other girls. 

But as useful as it was, this wasn't for me. I'm just not a big fan of sex and it didn't just stay in the columns and necessary sex scenes. It made it hard to get into the book. When the stalker plot started up that got me into it and I liked the rest of the book fine, but it's not going to be one that I reread. I don't want to put you off though. I really liked the characters and the plot. 

Definitely a must read for gay guys and for anyone who needs the sort of sex ed that's harder to find, but otherwise I'd probably give it a miss.

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

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Distortion by Victor Dixen

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released: 18th of October 2018 

Six girls, six boys: looking for glory and romance on Mars 

They thought they were masters of their destiny.
They are the twelve pioneers of the Genesis programme. 
They thought they were taking part in the most extraordinary of missions.
In fact, they are the victims of the cruellest of plots.

Leonor was looking for glory - and love - on Mars.
She thought she would be able to open her heart there. 
But what she has done is open up a Pandora's box of her past ...

What I Have to Say 

I've never had such a different reaction to a sequel as the first book before, but as much as I loved Ascension, I really hated Distortion. It was a massive disappointment. Sometimes I read a book and get caught up in the action and the mystery of it all and I don't notice that actually, the writing itself isn't so great. I think that's the case with Ascension. I'm not withdrawing my recommendation. I still loved Ascension. It's worth reading for all the secrets and lies and mystery. But having a book like Distortion, where most of the mystery is already revealed and there's not the big build up of the first book? It becomes clear that the actual writing is very lacking. I don't know whether this is a translation issue or the original text, but it's really off-putting 

I like the main 12 characters a lot. Their dialogue may be really stilted and formal, but their actions and their motivations shine through. I think this is what will keep me reading this series. Because even though Serena is turning into more and more of a comic book villain, even though I find the way that they've paired up nice and neatly with each six couples being madly in love completely and utterly ridiculous and unbelievable, I want to see what comes next for them. I want them to survive and win out against all the odds stacked against them. 

So this is a very mixed review. There are some really good things about the series, but it's not one that I want to shout about and push on my friends anymore. 

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

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Most Anticipated Reads for October!

I think we can all agree that there are some fantastic books due to be released in October, so I thought I'd share a few of the ones I'm really looking forward to.

The first two, I'm actually already reading, but they're so good and I've been excited for them for a fair while, so I'm including them on the list. 

Death in the Spotlight by Robin Stevens (4th) 

Someone will take their final bow . . .

Fresh from their adventure in Hong Kong, Hazel Wong and Daisy Wells are off to the Rue Theatre in London to face an entirely new challenge: acting.

But the Detective Society is never far away from danger, and it's clear there's trouble afoot at the Rue. 

Jealousy, threats and horrible pranks quickly spiral out of control - and then a body is found. 

Now Hazel and Daisy must take centre stage and solve the crime . . . before the murderer strikes again. 

These books have and always will have a special place in my heart. Every new release is something I await with so much anticipation and not once have I been disappointed. Because they are beautiful, beautiful books that are always just perfect.

I'm halfway through the book at the moment and the series has actually just gotten even better. As soon as I'm finished with it, the anticipation will start for the next one.

What If It's Us by Becky Albertally and Adam Silvera (18th) 

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

Two big name LGBT authors coming together to co-write a meet-cute. What could be more exciting!? I haven't read any Adam Silvera yet, though he's definitely on my list of authors to check out, but Becky Albertalli is an author I love, Simon vs the Homosapien Agenda/ Love Simon is a fantastic book and I adored the Upside of Unrequited Too, so I was definitely excited about this book. The concept just made it so much more exciting. 

It hasn't disappointed me so far and I'm most of the way through! 

Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend (30th) 

Morrigan Crow and her best friend Hawthorne Swift are now proud scholars in the elite Wundrous Society, but life is far from perfect. Does Morrigan have what it takes to prove that she belongs in the Society?

One that I haven't started reading yet, Wundersmith is one I am so, so excited for. I adored Nevermoor so much and can't wait to see what happens to Morrigan Crow next! There are still so, so many mysteries hidden in Nevermoor waiting to be revealed and I can't wait to get back into that world. 

I just wish I didn't have to wait until the 30th! 

My last book is technically not out until November, but I have an eArc from Netgalley which I'm going to be reading in October, so I'm counting it. 

Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean (8th of November) 

In a palace of illusions, nothing is what it seems.

Each generation, a competition is held to find the next empress of Honoku. The rules are simple. Survive the palace’s enchanted seasonal rooms. Conquer Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. Marry the prince. All are eligible to compete—all except yōkai, supernatural monsters and spirits whom the human emperor is determined to enslave and destroy. 

Mari has spent a lifetime training to become empress. Winning should be easy. And it would be, if she weren't hiding a dangerous secret. Mari is a yōkai with the ability to transform into a terrifying monster. If discovered, her life will be forfeit. As she struggles to keep her true identity hidden, Mari’s fate collides with that of Taro, the prince who has no desire to inherit the imperial throne, and Akira, a half-human, half-yōkai outcast.

Torn between duty and love, loyalty and betrayal, vengeance and forgiveness, the choices of Mari, Taro, and Akira will decide the fate of Honoku in this beautifully written, edge-of-your-seat YA fantasy. 

I am adoring all of the Asian inspired fantasy coming out at the moment. It is so wonderful to have a new influx of mythology and settings to the Fantasy genre. There are so, so many books I'm now completely excited for and Empress of All Seasons is definitely near the top  of the list. Yokai, secrets, illusions? Competing against one another to become the new Empress? I cannot wait to read it!

So that's my list! I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek into what I'm looking forward to and maybe picked up a few titles for your own lists! 

Anything you're looking forward to this October? 

Saturday, 6 October 2018

No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 288
Publisher: Anderson
Released: 4th of October 2018 

Felix Knutsson is nearly thirteen, lives with his mother and pet gerbil Horatio, and is brilliant at memorising facts and trivia. So far, pretty normal. But Felix and his mom Astrid have a secret: they are living in a van. Astrid promises it’s only for a while until she finds a new job, and begs Felix not to breathe a word about it. So when Felix starts at a new school, he does his very best to hide the fact that most of his clothes are in storage, he only showers weekly at the community centre, and that he doesn’t have enough to eat. When his friends Dylan and Winnie ask to visit, Felix always has an excuse.

But Felix has a plan to turn his and Astrid’s lives around: he’s going to go on his favourite game show Who, What, Where, When and win the cash prize. All he needs is a little luck and a lot of brain power . . .

What I Have to Say

This was basically an Canadian version of Slumdog Millionaire for kids. Felix is a optimistic teenager who just wants to save him and his mum  through the junior edition of his favourite game show! It's a great blend of hope, friendship and real life issues. 

Living in a van with his single mum, Astrid, Felix has a lot of struggles. I can't remember if it was stated specifically that Astrid had bipolar or if it was something that I read into it, but it definitely dealt with her going into depressive slumps and Felix having to look after her. Spending most of the time trying to hide from the questions of friends, teachers and anyone else who might report them to the authorities (something that Astrid is terrified of due to her own bad experiences in the past), Felix has to get through life and school and friendships without anyone finding out he lives out of a van. It's amazing that Nielson managed to squeeze so many real life issues into one book so completely naturally. 

I loved the bond between Felix and his friends. He had such a great friendship with Dylan that he could so easily pick up after so many years, but the best thing was how Winnie just inserted herself in the group through shear force of will. Winnie was a great character who is definitely the sort of person who everyone hates at school, but the friendship still worked once Felix and Dylan just accepted that they wouldn't be able to get away from her. She proved herself to be such a great friend to Felix and shows that the most unexpected friends can be the best. 

This is an important book and also a thrilling on. It is fun to read while still hitting the hard issues without shying away. Definitely a book to pick up this year. 

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

Friday, 5 October 2018

Caged Queen by Kristen Ciccarelli

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Gollancz
Released: 25th of September 2018 

Once there were two sisters born with a bond so strong that it forged them together forever. When they were angry, mirrors shattered, and when they were happy, flowers bloomed. It was a magic they cherished - until the day a terrible accident took Essie's life and trapped her soul in this world.

Dax - the heir to Firgaard's throne - was responsible for the accident. Roa swore to hate him forever. But eight years later he returned, begging for her help. He was determined to dethrone his cruel father, under whose oppressive reign Roa's people had suffered. Roa made him a deal: she'd give him the army he needed if he made her queen.

Together with Dax and his sister, Asha, Roa and her people waged war and deposed a tyrant. But now Asha is on the run, hiding from the price on her head. And Roa is an outlander queen, far from home and married to her enemy. Worst of all: Dax's promises go unfulfilled. Roa's people continue to suffer.

Then a chance to right every wrong arises - an opportunity for Roa to rid herself of this enemy king and rescue her beloved sister. During the Relinquishing, when the spirits of the dead are said to return, Roa can reclaim her sister for good.

All she has to do is kill the king.

What I Have to Say 

This series is truly something special. Every word of the writing is beautiful and lyrical and just perfect. Reading the Caged Queen was like sinking back into a world full of stories and dragons and the spirits of sisters trapped in the form of birds. 

As with The Last Namsara, there were parts of the book set into the present interspersed with small snippets of stories and flashbacks. The stories especially in both books are just the perfect way to share all sorts of things about the culture of the world. It was great to learn more about the outlander culture and how it differed from the culture in Firgaard. 

I loved Roa a lot. She seemed to flounder a lot more than Asha and she didn't make the best choices, but there was still something about her that I really liked. The way she clung to her sister and would do anything to save her was a motivation that I could really understand, so although a lot of her actions were ones I disagreed with, it was easy to see why she did what she did and like her anyway. 

There was one character in particular that really intrigued me by the end. I won't say who because of spoilers, but I would love to see more of this character in the future. There's a lot of things hidden away and a lot of secrets revealed at the end and I hope we see more of this character in the future. 

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

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Curse by Sam Hearn

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 160 
Publisher: Scholastic Fiction 
Released: 2nd of August 2018 

Welcome to Baker Street Academy, where there's always a mystery to be solved! Luckily Sherlock Holmes is on the case, with his friends John Watson and Martha Hudson. Told through Watson's diary, with energetic comic-strip illustrations, this introduction to Arthur Conan Doyle's classic characters will have every young super-sleuth hooked!

What I Have to Say 

A fantastic introduction to the Sherlock Holmes characters for any young reader. This book was an amazing blend of comic strip type illustrations, prose, emails, and so much more! It showcased so many different ways that there are to tell a story, but still with the classic voice of John Watson threaded through to tell the story in his diary as a nod to the original books. 

This is the second book so I was coming in after not reading the first adventure. There were a lot of references to it, including Moriarty being in Switzerland sending ominous, vaguely threatening postcards, which were wonderful and hilarious. So I do think that reading them in order is a good idea, but it didn't put me off too much, so it's not essential.

The story itself was really clever. I figured it out pretty quickly, but I think that is more about the fact that I'm a grown up who's read a lot of mysteries, including a few of the original Holmes books, so I feel that when I was younger I wouldn't have found the twist so obvious, because it is a good twist! Just a little overdone in Sherlock Holmes re-imaginings.

This is definitely a book for a young budding detective!

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