Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated 2018 Releases!

 

Hey Everyone! So normally I do the Top Ten Tuesday prompt that appears on The Artsy Reader Girl, however this week’s is ‘Top Ten Books I’m No Longer Interested in Reading.’ I had a good long think about this and could come up with two books, so I’ve picked something completely different instead! I did do a post of 2018 books that I’m looking forward to at the end of 2017, but the majority of them were sequels to books I’d loved throughout the year, so this is my top 10 new books coming out in 2018!

1. The Queens of Innis Lear – Tessa Gratton

A KINGDOM AT RISK, A CROWN DIVIDED, A FAMILY DRENCHED IN BLOOD.

This fantasy retelling of King Lear sounds just fantastic. The synopsis had me hooked right from the start and I am just dying to read it.

Coming May 17th from HarperVoyager UK, read the full synopsis on Goodreads.

2. Witchsign – Den Patrick

Another new fantasy series from HarperVoyager, this is the first in the series from The Boy with the Porcelain Blade author Den Patrick. I loved the Erebus Sequence and I’m dying to read this one. Full of dragons and magic, it sounds like a must read.

Coming May 22nd from HarperVoyager UK, read the full synopsis on Goodreads.

3. The Poppy War – R. F. Kuang


I swear not every book on this list is coming from HarperVoyager, but this is another one that I am definitely looking forward to. I’ve already seen people talking about it online and it sounds like such a gripping read with a kick ass protagonist.

Coming May 1st from HarperVoyager UK, read the full synopsis on Goodreads.

4. Starfish – Akemi Dawn Bowman

I don’t read an awful lot of comtemporary YA and that is something I definitely want to rectify. As soon as I heard about book I added it to my wishlist. It sounds like a really fascinating look into mental health and I was lucky enough to be asked to be on the blog tour for this, so stay tuned for that coming new month!

Coming April 5th from Ink Road. Read the full synopsis on Goodreads.

5. The Smoke Thieves – Sally Green

A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict

I have  a confession to make in that I’ve never read a book by Sally Green. I know plenty of people rave about her books but I haven’t gotten around to picking up the Half Bad series. When I read about this book I jumped at the chance to receive an e-ARC and I’m hoping reading this beauty will be the kick I need to pick up Sally Green’s other books.

Coming May 3rd from Penguin UK. Read the fully synopsis on Goodreads. 

6. Ace of Shades – Amanda Foody

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

I bought a copy of Daughter of the Burning City at YALC last year but I haven’t had the chance to read it yet. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about it and this series sounds just as amazing.

Coming May 17th 2018 from HQ Young Adult, read the full synopsis on Goodreads. 

7. Furyborn – Claire Legrand

This book caught my attention a little while ago and I thought it sounded like an absolutely stunning read. I’ve seen it described as one of the most original fantasy series of 2018 and I can’t wait to read it. I was so over the moon when I found an ARC copy of this in one of my Fairyloot boxes, it is near the top of my TBR now and I’m really looking forward to it.

Coming May 22nd 2018 from Sourcebooks Fire, read the full synopsis on Goodreads.

8. Ash Princess – Laura Sebastian

 I must admit I saw this on Goodreads and was completely sucked in by that cover. It looks beautiful and after reading the synopsis it sounds like a fantastic read. I have seen some mixed reviews about this one already, but I’m looking forward to picking it up and forming my own opinion!

Coming June 14th from Pan MacMillan, read the full synopsis on Goodreads.

9. Children of Blood and Bone – Tomi Adeyemi

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared.

I know this one is probably on everyone’s list of anticipated releases, but it just sounds unputdownable. The lovely folks at My Kinda Book have sent me a review copy, and I am planning to dive into it this week!

Coming March 8th from Pan Macmillan, read the full synopsis on Goodreads

10. The Traitor’s Game – Jennifer A. Nielsen

I haven’t heard too much about this book so far but I saw someone mention it on Twitter and thought it sounded like an excellent read. I haven’t read The False Prince series but I am definitely tempted to pick up both and have a binge read!

Coming February 27th 2018 from Scholastic, read the full synopsis on Goodreads.


Blog Tour: Only Child – Rhiannon Navin


Release Date: March 8th 2018
Publisher: Mantle
Pages: 352
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

We went to school that Tuesday like normal.

Not all of us came home . . .

Huddled in a cloakroom with his classmates and teacher, six-year-old Zach can hear shots ringing through the corridors of his school. A gunman has entered the building and, in a matter of minutes, will have taken nineteen lives.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the close knit community and its families are devastated. Everyone deals with the tragedy differently. Zach’s father absents himself; his mother pursues a quest for justice — while Zach retreats into his super-secret hideout and loses himself in a world of books and drawing.

Ultimately though, it is Zach who will show the adults in his life the way forward — as, sometimes, only a child can.

Review

This is a brilliantly written debut focusing on a horrific school shooting and the rippling aftermath that the event has on the local community. It is powerful, heartbreaking and incredibly relevant given the current news and media. The book really hones in on the community and the lasting effects that this single event can have.

The book is told from the perspective of young Zach, who is a powerful and fascinating protagonist. Navin does a fantastic job of bringing him to life, Zach along with the rest of the characters feel very realistic and complex, each dealing with their own complex emotions and grief as they deal with all that has happened. I definitely felt myself becoming attached to Zach, you feel for this clever young boy as he retreats into his books and drawings, while his parents atte

mpt to cope with their grief.

I also found it fascinating that Zach chose to represent his emotions with colours. He’s a bright and fascinating character and seeing him bring people together was part of the reason I loved this book so much. It is excellently paced and the writing style definitely hooks you in from the get go. It might be a difficult topic but it is absolutely worth while.

This book is by no means an easy read. It is hard hitting and emotional, but it is one that you have to read. It stayed with me long after I finished reading it and I found myself thinking about it throughout the day afterwards. As a debut it is stunning and I am eagerly looking forward to seeing what Rhiannon Navin has in store next.



Feature: 48 Readathon!

This weekend I’m doing something special, my friend Barb over at The Coffee Woods is celebrating her birthday this weekend by hosting a 48 hour readathon. (Happy Birthdaaaay!!) I’m planning to sleep a little bit between and get through a few of the books on my mounting TBR. So I’ve made a little list of some of the books I’m hoping to get through and I’ll make a little post at the end of the weekend to see how many books I managed to get through. I’ve picked a few books that I bought recently, as well as some ARCs and some comic books.

1. Thin Air – Michelle Paver

I thought this would be a great one to start off with. It’s quite short and sounds absolutely terrific. I adored Dark Matter and I’ve read it more than once, but I’ve had this a few months and haven’t read it yet. Definitely hoping to kick this readathon off with a bang!

2. One of Us is Lying – Karen McManus

This is another one that I bought fairly recently and have been dying to read. I’ve heard such amazing things and it sounds like a really gripping read. I’ve heard so many bloggers rave about this one and I’m hoping it will suck me in for a few hours.

3. Out of the Blue – Sophie Cameron

This one arrived in the post yesterday and I figured this was the perfect time to read it. I’m definitely excited to read this because it’s set in Edinburgh!

4. The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven

I was lucky enough to get a signed ARC of this at YALC and have been meaning to read it for ages. It sounds like such a fun and enjoyable read so I’m hoping to get to it during this readathon.

5. The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I’ve read this beautiful book before but I thought it would be an excellent time to reread this. It’s a really short collection of stories so I think I could finish it during the readathon too.

6. The Wytches Vol 1 – Scott Snyder

This looks like such a dark and exciting read. I thought I would pick a graphic novel to read too in case I get tired. I imagine I’ll fly through this because it looks like such a gripping read.

So that’s the books I’m planning to read for my readathon. I do have a few backups too in case I somehow manage to get through all these! What do you think, have you read any of these?


Feature: January Book Haul!

I wasn’t sure whether or not to continue on with this feature as I am trying my hardest not to buy books at the moment. My to be read pile is huge and I am trying to save some money, which meant my book buying habits had to change. That being said I did have a gift card to spend so I bought a few books this month, so here they are:

1. Thin Air – Michelle Paver

I read (and actually reread this month) Dark Matter by Michelle Paver and adored it. I had no idea she had another book out so when I saw this I jumped at the chance to pick up a copy.

In 1935, young medic Stephen Pearce travels to India to join an expedition with his brother, Kits. The elite team of five will climb Kangchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain and one of mountaineering’s biggest killers. No one has scaled it before, and they are, quite literally, following in the footsteps of one of the most famous mountain disasters of all time – the 1907 Lyell Expedition.

Five men lost their lives back then, overcome by the atrocious weather, misfortune and ‘mountain sickness’ at such high altitudes. Lyell became a classic British hero when he published his memoir, Bloody, But Unbowed, which regaled his heroism in the face of extreme odds. It is this book that will guide this new group to get to the very top.

As the team prepare for the epic climb, Pearce’s unease about the expedition deepens. The only other survivor of the 1907 expedition, Charles Tennant, warns him off. He hints of dark things ahead and tells Pearce that, while five men lost their lives on the mountain, only four were laid to rest.

 

2. A Long Way to A Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers

I have heard so much about this book and so many friends and bloggers absolutely rave about it so I had no choice but to pick it up with my giftcard.

Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.

Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.

 

3. One of Us is Lying – Karen M. McManus

This is another one that I’ve heard so many people rave about. It looks like a really fun and exciting read and I’m looking forward to picking it up!

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. 
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. 
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? 
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

4. The Obelisk Gate – N. K. Jemisin

This is the second book in The Broken Earth trilogy, something that I have been meaning to read for a really long time. I’ve had the first book forever so I’m hoping with my purchasing this it will kick start me into read it because I know so many people love it.

The season of endings grows darker as civilization fades into the long cold night. Alabaster Tenring – madman, world-crusher, savior – has returned with a mission: to train his successor, Essun, and thus seal the fate of the Stillness forever.

It continues with a lost daughter, found by the enemy.

It continues with the obelisks, and an ancient mystery converging on answers at last.

The Stillness is the wall which stands against the flow of tradition, the spark of hope long buried under the thickening ashfall. And it will not be broken.

 

5. The Stone Sky – N. K. Jemisin

This book was a steal at £2 brand new so how could I not get it to complete the set?

The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.

Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.

For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.

6. The Study Series – Maria V. Snyder

Finally, this is the one book(s) that I actually bought – I am quite proud of myself on that one. I love this series so much and I’ve read it multiple times on Kindle but I only owned Shadow Study so when I saw the box set of them all for £12 I couldn’t resist.

Choose: A quick death…Or slow poison…

About to be executed for murder, Yelena is offered an extraordinary reprieve. She’ll eat the best meals, have rooms in the palace—and risk assassination by anyone trying to kill the Commander of Ixia.

And so Yelena chooses to become a food taster. But the chief of security, leaving nothing to chance, deliberately feeds her Butterfly’s Dust—and only by appearing for her daily antidote will she delay an agonizing death from the poison.

As Yelena tries to escape her new dilemma, disasters keep mounting. Rebels plot to seize Ixia and Yelena develops magical powers she can’t control. Her life is threatened again and choices must be made. But this time the outcomes aren’t so clear..

So that’s the books I picked up in January! We’re already half way into February and I haven’t done nearly as well with not buying books. What bookish goodies have you been buying?


Blog Tour: The Toymakers – Robert Dinsdale


Release Date: February 8th 2018
Publisher: Ebury Publishing
Pages: 320
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads
Source: The folks at Ebury kindly sent me a copy to review

Synopsis

Do you remember when you believed in magic?

The Emporium opens with the first frost of winter. It is the same every year. Across the city, when children wake to see ferns of white stretched across their windows, or walk to school to hear ice crackling underfoot, the whispers begin: the Emporium is open! 

It is 1917, and London has spent years in the shadow of the First World War. In the heart of Mayfair, though, there is a place of hope. A place where children’s dreams can come true, where the impossible becomes possible – that place is Papa Jack’s Toy Emporium.

For years Papa Jack has created and sold his famous magical toys: hobby horses, patchwork dogs and bears that seem alive, toy boxes bigger on the inside than out, ‘instant trees’ that sprout from boxes, tin soldiers that can fight battles on their own. Now his sons, Kaspar and Emil, are just old enough to join the family trade. Into this family comes a young Cathy Wray – homeless and vulnerable. The Emporium takes her in, makes her one of its own. But Cathy is about to discover that while all toy shops are places of wonder, only one is truly magical…

Review

This vivid rich tale has absolutely stolen my heart and I could not put it down. A blend of magic and history, this book has definitely rocketed to one of my favourite books ever. The Toymakers is written in an incredibly beautiful style and the plot draws you in from the very outset. I couldn’t get enough of this book, with its bright depictions and stunning characters.

I’ve seen this book described elsewhere as a ‘fairy tale for grown ups’ and I think that’s incredibly accurate. In many ways it has that beautiful dream like quality, but with something darker lurking underneath. The story spans through two World Wars, and the effect that has on the emporium. The Toymakers is definitely the kind of book that you want to read when you have a good few hours just to sit and become completely absorbed in the story.

The characters are exceptionally well written too and definitely come alive in the setting. Cathy, Jack, Kaspar and Emil all feel like three dimensional characters, having their own motivations and desires. The book encompasses so much – jealousy, desire, friendship and hope. I don’t want to say too much about the plot as this is definitely one of those books that should be read with no spoilers, but there are a few surprises along the way that I didn’t see coming. It also has the most gorgeous cover ever, so many people asked me what I was reading when I was on my lunch break!

If you’re a fan of The Night Circus, I would definitely recommend this stunning book to you. If you’re looking for a magical and emotional tale that will leave you breathless, The Toymakers is exactly what you’re looking for.


Blog Tour: Behind Her Back – Jane Lythell

Series: StoryWorld #2
Release Date: August 10th 2017
Publisher: Heads of Zeus
Pages: 368
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review

Synopsis

StoryWorld is the nation’s favourite morning show, and producer Liz Lyon wants to keep it that way. Her job is to turn real-life stories into thrilling TV – and keep a lid on the cauldron of conflicts and resentments that constantly simmers off-stage.

In this gripping novel of power, rivalry and betrayal, Jane Lythell draws on her experiences of working in the heated world of live TV. Liz Lyon must balance the monster egos at work with the demands of her teenage daughter – and the man she’s just started dating – at home. It’s all in a day’s work.

Review

This was a fantastic, gripping read from author Jane Lythell, full of twists and turns. When a new woman joins the team at work, Liz feels the balance of power has shifted. She has to keep a lid on all her feelings as she maintains her role as a television producer. Coupling this with raising her daughter and dating, Liz’s life is full of surprises and shocks.

I really enjoyed reading this book partly because I found the main character so likeable. She’s a strong woman who looks after her team and works hard. I liked seeing her play the peacekeeper, diffuse the tensions and solve problems on her feet. She felt like a realistic and layered character, dealing with a teenage daughter and starting a new romance. She often has doubts about herself too, which felt quite refreshing for a main character.

I must admit that when I read Behind Her Back I did not know it was a sequel and I haven’t actually read the first book. I didn’t feel that that hindered my reading experience though, and you can definitely read it as a stand alone. I am however excited to go back to book one and find out what I missed. I love the tense, explosive atmosphere that Lythell has created, and am definitely eager for more.

Jane Lythell has drawn on her own experiences as a TV producer for this series and I think that’s part of the reason that it works so well and feels so real. The book is well paced and definitely makes you want to just read one more chapter. If you’re looking for a gripping and engaging read that’s different from anything you’ve read before, Behind Her Back is exactly what you’re looking for.

 

Now check out our extract from the book!

Extract

As I let myself into the flat I could hear Flo crying in her bedroom. I hurried in and she was lying on her bed sobbing as if her world had come to an end. The shutters were closed and the room was in near darkness.

‘What’s happened, sweetheart?’

She sat up and I saw that her beautiful brown hair was now a nasty brassy blonde! I rushed over to her and put my arm around her and the story came out between great hiccoughy sobs. She had decided to use the money Ben had put into her account to get her hair bleached. She thought that going blonde would be edgy so she and Rosie had set off after breakfast to look for a salon she could afford. The high street ones had been too expensive so they found some cheap backstreet hairdresser who must have applied a gallon of peroxide to Flo’s tender scalp. Honestly, I think the bloody woman had used toilet bleach! When she saw the result Flo knew it had been a terrible mistake. Rosie had tried to comfort her but she was inconsolable and had run all the way home. I was shocked when I touched her hair, not just at the colour but that her normally healthy hair felt dry and brittle.

‘My scalp is burning,’ she said.

That worried me.

‘Will I go bald?’ she wailed.

‘Of course not,’ I said firmly, while thinking that it was not impossible. ‘I’m going to look up some advice now,’ I added, as calmly as I could manage.

I went into the kitchen and furiously googled how to deal with a bad job of bleached hair. I found a terrifying article which said you should inspect the burn area. Redness and irritation could be treated at home but if there were open wounds, blistering or tissue damage you had to go to hospital. Vomiting and feeling faint was also a symptom of chemical burn. Flo had joined me in the kitchen and I shut down the article quickly.

‘I need to look at your scalp, darling.’

She let me inspect her head. Her scalp was red but there was no sign of blisters.

‘You’re not feeling sick or anything like that?’

‘No, not sick; all hot and itchy.’

‘OK. We need to get hold of some aloe vera lotion. That should soothe your scalp. I’m going to the pharmacy now. Do you want to come with me?’

‘No! I can’t leave the house.’

‘OK, well I think you should run some cold water on your head to cool your scalp down.’

I guided her into the bathroom and got her to kneel down and run cold water from the handheld shower onto her head.

‘Keep running the water as long as you can and I’ll be back in fifteen minutes.’

Chalk Farm flat, Sunday

By this morning Flo’s scalp had calmed

down a bit. She told me it wasn’t hot any more but was still dry and itchy. It was a beautiful sunny day and I suggested we go to Regent’s Park and eat out, or maybe go on the boating lake which is one of our places. Her response had been emphatic.

‘No way am I going out looking like this!’

She was determined to stay holed up in the flat all day. I got out our two deckchairs from my tiny shed and sat in the sun reading, reconciled to a day at home. Finally Flo emerged and stood on the threshold watching me. The deckchairs were new ones we bought recently as

our last pair had fallen apart. Flo had chosen them and she always insisted on sitting on the one with the yellow and white stripes and left the green and white one to me. She sank down sorrowfully with a deep sigh and started a long phone conversation with Rosie in which she made her promise several times not to say a word about her hair to anyone.

I went inside and made a jug of sparkling water with lime cordial, adding lots of ice cubes, brought the jug out and poured us both a beaker. I deadheaded the flowers and watered the plants in their pots and finally Flo said goodbye to Rosie.

‘Darling, were you given a skin test at that salon?’

‘A skin test?’

‘Yes, sweets, they’re supposed to test the bleach on your skin before they do anything. They’re supposed to do it twenty-four hours before.’

‘Nothing like that…’

‘What’s the name of the salon?’

‘Are you going to complain?’

‘Damn right I am. The woman is a menace and I’ll try to get your money back.’

‘It had a stupid name, Scissor Sisters,’ she said reluctantly.

She hates me to make a fuss about anything relating to her. She started in on me then. Her position was that normal life could not resume until I paid a good salon to dye her hair brown again and why was I being so mean as to say no to that.

‘Because I’ve read up on it. Every article said you have to wait and let the scalp and hair recover before attempting any more colour changes.’

‘I can’t wait.’

‘You’ll have to. It’s not the end of the world.’

‘I look like a freak.’ Her voice was rising which usually meant that tears were on their way.

‘Of course you don’t,’ I said, privately thinking, Whose fault is that?

We argued on and off for the next hour.

‘I was thinking maybe you’d like me to move your trip to Portsmouth forward?’63

She nodded.

‘At least no one knows me down there,’ she said tragically.

I went inside and called Grace, Ben’s mum, and we agreed Flo would travel down on Tuesday. Pete would meet her at the station and she could stay ten days if she wanted to. I briefed Grace on the great hair drama and she promised me she would be diplomatic about Flo’s appearance and would stop her doing anything else to her hair. I returned to the garden and told Flo about the new arrangements.

‘It means I’ll miss Sophie’s party,’ she grumbled.

‘But you said you didn’t want to go out.’

‘I don’t, but if you’d pay to get my hair done…’

‘Once you’re back from Portsmouth I’ll book you into my salon.’

‘Why do I have to wait?’

I’d had enough of her endless whining.

‘I’ve told you. That’s enough, Flo!’

‘You’re so mean.’

‘And you brought this on yourself. No one told you to go to that stupid salon.’

She stormed off to her room in a fury and I heard her bedroom door slam. I sat down and picked up my book, wanting to escape into it, but I couldn’t settle to read. I went inside and tidied the sitting room and emptied the bins. I flattened our empty water bottles for the

recycling box with more force than usual. I was fed up. The weekends are when I recharge my batteries in preparation for the week ahead. I resented Flo’s histrionics which had dominated most of the last two days.


Blog Tour: Spare and Found Parts – Sarah Maria Griffin

Synopsis

Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?

Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

Now check out this fab guest post from author Sarah Maria Griffin all about how the book was written!

Guest Post

The first lines of Spare and Found Parts were written on cheap recycled paper that was a deep brown in colour, that I bought in the big office-supply-store down near Protrero Hill in san Francisco. I was 5000 miles away from my home, having set out with my boyfriend and a big dream – to go and live in the hilly, foggy city people sing songs about and become a writer. I was 23. I scrawled out ideas about who Nell Crane would be, who her father would be, what became of her mother – and what it was exactly about the Dublin they were living in that made it different from the Dublin I had just come from, the Dublin I was grieving every single day. During my time living in the Bay Area, I wrote a nonfiction book called Not Lost – a weird collection of vignettes and essays about a single year of being an immigrant in America. It published in 2013, and softly started my career – but Spare and Found Parts was the book I was nursing while racing to finish Not Lost on a tight deadline. The true story of being an outsider in a world you don’t understand is Spare and Found Parts – and the setting speaks to that.

I thought about Dublin every day as I mapped my way around San Francisco, largely on foot. The city is a precise grid system, occasionally thrown by hills, but largely it is mapped and strict and easy to navigate. It’s also small, oddly enough, around the same 7 miles by 7 miles that Dublin holds, too. That, however, is about the only thing the two places have in common. Dublin is a tangle of streets and alleyways, weird parks and desolate flats, empty department stores, underground cinemas, a river that has always felt hungry and sinister to me – the weather so unpredictable and often so utterly dour that Irish people are practically elemental extensions of it. So in the steady, consistent, 19 degrees heat and sunshine, the seasonless ordered grid of San Francisco, I mourned Dublin into Black Water City. I turned the temperature up, I made the world too hot, sweltering, the parks all swamps. I burned it down, I gutted the population, I stripped the place and painted it in ash and red paint to mark where the poison still lives. The landscape of Spare and Found Parts is just as much a character in the book as any of the humans (or the android) – the Phoenix Park, one of the most gorgeous spots in the city, is where I placed Nell’s house. Dublin Zoo is there, which is why, in this 100 year future, there are elephants roaming the parkland. The Cathedral District is Christchurch, the Olympia Theatre remains the Olympia – the Lighthouse Cinema is still there, and one of my favourite places in the whole town. The bike ride that Oliver takes Nell on from the Bayou (which is so far into the Phoenix Park, geographically, it’s practically in Blanchardstown) leads them down through Stonybatter and into Smithfield Square, now a hollowed out crater from a fallen aeroplane. My experience of Dublin changed in writing this story, because I have my own Dublin now, as well as the real truth of the place, too.

In writing we figure things out about the world, our world, our place in it: and in the making of Black Water City I learned where my home truly was, and it’s here, in these strange, ancient streets.

Thanks so much for checking out my stop on the tour, be sure to check out the other stops below and pop back soon for a review of this magnificent book!


Book Review: The Reason You’re Alive – Matthew Quick


Release Date: January 11th 2018
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 240
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review

Synopsis

After sixty-eight-year-old David Granger crashes his BMW, medical tests reveal a brain tumor that he readily attributes to his wartime Agent Orange exposure. He wakes up from surgery repeating a name no one in his civilian life has ever heard—that of a Native American soldier whom he was once ordered to discipline. David decides to return something precious he long ago stole from the man he now calls Clayton Fire Bear. It might be the only way to find closure in a world increasingly at odds with the one he served to protect. It might also help him finally recover from his wife’s untimely demise.

As David confronts his past to salvage his present, a poignant portrait emerges: that of an opinionated and goodhearted American patriot fighting like hell to stay true to his red, white, and blue heart, even as the country he loves rapidly changes in ways he doesn’t always like or understand. Hanging in the balance are Granger’s distant art-dealing son, Hank; his adoring seven-year-old granddaughter, Ella; and his best friend, Sue, a Vietnamese-American who respects David’s fearless sincerity.

Review

This is a fascinating read from author Matthew Quick of Silver Lining’s Playbook fame. The story follows David Granger, a veteran of the Vietnam war. After his brain surgery to remove a tumour David attempts to right some of the wrongs he’s done in his life as well as salvage his relationship with his son Hank.

I’m not sure how I feel about this book. It was a really interesting read, David recounts some of the horrors of his experience in Vietnam, as well as his adjustment to civilian life. I have mixed feelings because I found it difficult to get on with our protagonist, he was brash and had some very pointed political and social opinions. I preferred the second half of the book much more to the first, particularly as the story started to unfold and you learn more about his life as banker and family man.

The plot is an interesting one, particularly relating to the mysterious Clayton Fire Bear that David mentions throughout the book. I like the personal way the book was written, almost as if the reader is having a conversation with the main character. This is my first book by Matthew Quick, and while I didn’t absolutely love it was a unique and interesting read, and I look forward to seeing more from this author.


Book Review: WaR: Wizards and Robots – Will.i.am & Brian David Johnson


Release Date: January 25th 2018
Publisher: Penguin Books
Pages: 312
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: I was kindly given a copy of this book at YALC

Synopsis

When a young man breaks into her home claiming her life is in danger, Ada Luring’s world changes forever. Geller is a wizard, on the run from his father’s hidden clan who want to kill Ada and her mother. Sara Luring is the scientist who will create the first robot, the wizards’ age-old foes.

But a robot has travelled back in time to find Ada, and will lay everything on the line to protect her, as she may just be the key to preventing the earth’s destruction in the future.

Ada, Geller and the robots must learn to work together to change the past and secure the future. But they don’t have much time before a mysterious enemy launches its attack on Earth…

Review

I wanted to like this book. I thought it would be a light and fun read that I could enjoy over the weekend, but it just wasn’t for me. Ada and her mum are entering a competition to create a robot with the most human intelligence, meanwhile there’s a band of wizards from the past (who were almost wiped out by a group of time travelling robots who are being mind controlled by a force known as the Spawn), hellbent on stopping them from creating it. Meanwhile in the future The Spawn have wiped out almost everyone and only the remaining few robots at the Hadron collider can stop the Earth being destroy completely. Confused yet?

I feel like Wizards and Robots had some potential. I really liked Ada and her mum. Ada is the strong techy girl who I thought made an excellent protagonist, but the story had too much going on for me to get to know her as well as I would have liked. The wizard aspects I felt had potential too, but with so much ground to cover the reader doesn’t get the chance to understand the magic systems in play.

The science and technical aspects of the story are clearly very well researched and I enjoyed those aspects of the story, but I otherwise struggled to finish this book. Particularly the last section of the book, which heavily focuses on action sequences and then what felt like a bit of a rushed ending. If you’re a fan of science fiction and like a mash up of ideas you might really enjoy this one, but it just wasn’t for me.


Book Review: A Pocketful of Crows – Joanne Harris

Release Date: October 19th 2017
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 240
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: I was rent a proof copy of this book in my review Chronicle Book Box

Synopsis

I am as brown as brown can be,
And my eyes as black as sloe;
I am as brisk as brisk can be,
And wild as forest doe.
(The Child Ballads, 295)

So begins a beautiful tale of love, loss and revenge. Following the seasons, A Pocketful of Crows balances youth and age, wisdom and passion and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless wild girl.

Only love could draw her into the world of named, tamed things. And it seems only revenge will be powerful enough to let her escape.

Review

I was so excited to read this little beauty because I loved The Gospel of Loki and have always wanted to read more of Joanne Harris’s books. The story follows a young woman who lives in the woods, She has magical powers which she loses when she falls in love with a local lord’s son. Based on The Child Ballads, this book is beautifully written in a lyrical and poetic style.

The book is a short one and can probably be read in one sitting. I couldn’t put it down, The story is fairy tale like in nature, but in many ways more dark and twisted. The story is full to the brim with magic and folklore, and makes for a breath taking read. The story is told in the space of a year, encompassing birth and death, love and revenge. It might only be a couple of hundred pages long but it contains a lot within those beautiful pages. I’d love to see Joanne Harris write more of these beautiful stories.

If you’ve read any of her other books, you are bound to love A Pocketful of Crows. The book is also beautifully designed, which made me fall in love with it even more. If you’re looking for a book that will capture your imagination and leave you wanting more, A Pocketful of Crows is definitely the book you need.