book review


Blog Tour: Fire Lines – Cara Thurbourn

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Release Date: September 26th 2017
Publisher: Bewick Press
Pages: 294
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Find it on: Goodreads. Amazon. 

Synopsis:

When your blood line awakens, how do you choose between family and freedom?

Émi’s father used to weave beautiful tales of life beyond the wall, but she never knew if they were true. Now, her father is gone and Émi has been banished to the Red Quarter, where she toils to support herself and her mother – obeying the rules, hiding secrets and suffering the cruelties of the council’s ruthless Cadets.

But when Émi turns seventeen, sparks fly – literally. Her blood line surges into life and she realises she has a talent for magick… a talent that could get her killed.

Émi makes her escape, beyond the wall and away from everything she’s ever known. In a world of watchers, elephant riders and sorcery, she must discover the truth about who she really is. But can the new Émi live up to her destiny?

Review:

Welcome to my stop on the Fire Lines blog tour, run by the lovely A Daydreamer’s Thoughts. Fire Lines is a lush story in a fantastic magical setting, and one of the things I most enjoyed about this book was the excellent world building. The magick and history were all very well laid out, and really helped to centre the reader in the midst of the story.

Emi and the rest of the cast are also really likeable characters, and it wasn’t hard to become completely absorbed by their story. They are well rounded and developed – you root for Emi almost from the get go, and there’s plenty of exciting moments to keep you reading along the way. I also think that cover is fantastic, it’s really eye-catching and I can’t wait to buy a physical copy to have on my shelves.

I did feel some parts of the story were a little slow, particularly in the early chapters of the book, but once everything kicks off towards the latter half of the book, I definitely found the book hard to put down. It was engaging, well written and had plenty of the magic and mystery that YA fantasy fans will love.

I really enjoyed Fire Lines and really enjoyed seeing the different cultures and groups that live outside the wall. It’s a really exciting read and if you’re looking for a new YA fantasy series, this is definitely not going to be one to miss. I for one am now desperately waiting for book two!

Thanks for checking out my stop on the Fire Lines blog tour, be sure to check out the other stops below!

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Blog Tour: Prisoner of Ice and Snow – Ruth Lauren

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Release Date: September 7th 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Pages: 288
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads. 
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of the book for this blog tour.

Synopsis:

 

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 …

An unforgettable story of sisterhood, valour and rebellion, Prisoner of Ice and Snow will fire you up and melt your heart all at once. Perfect for fans of Katherine Rundell, Piers Torday and Cathryn Constable.

Review:

This is a beautifully written story about the friendship between two sisters. It’s an engaging, enjoyable story, and one I think a lot of people will really love. The plot is full of twists and turns and has that perfect blend of action and plot that fantasy fans will just love.

The main character Valor is a brave, determined young lady, and she’ll do anything to help her sister – even commit a crime. I admired her strength and courage, she’s a wonderful leading lady and I think she would be a fantastic role model for younger children reading A Prisoner of Ice and Snow. There are a few smaller characters that I would like to get to know as well as Valor, but perhaps that will come along later in the series.

The prison that Valor and her sister end up in is certainly a horrible one, and they depictions of the different settings – most notably the prison – is certainly vivid and well laid out. At only two hundred and eighty eight pages the book is quite a quick read, but there is plenty to keep you guessing and  wanting more. If you’re looking for a fun enjoyable MG fantasy, Prisoner of Ice and Snow is definitely a book to pick up. I for one am particularly looking forward to seeing what’s next in store for the series!

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Blog Tour: House of Spines – Michael J Malone


Release Date: August 16th 2017
Publisher: Orenda Books
Pages: 276
Source: I was kindly sent a copy of this book by the publisher for this blog tour.
Find it on: Goodreads. Amazon.

Synopsis:

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who appears to have been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, he finds that Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman … A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

Review:

What a wonderful creepy psychological thriller this book is! This book was another one of those sitting in the same spot for hours on end because I just couldn’t seem to put it down. This book is a fantastic Gothic novel that on several occasions definitely had me looking over my shoulder. It was a gripping read from start to finish, and it constantly kept me guessing (and terrified.)

One of the things I loved about this book is the setting. Newton Hall is this vast old mansion, exploring this big empty house that seems to be full to the brim with secrets. I also love that the book is set in Glasgow, as I grew up just outside there and it’s nice to read books set in a familiar place. The book is well paced, and as the story continues on, that tense feeling of unease definitely racks up more and more. The family history is also plotted really carefully and makes the book feel all the more realistic for the preciseness of the history and knowledge of the characters.

It reminded me a lot of the old Gothic novels I studied at University, with Rand as the unreliable narrator. Is it real or is he imagining it? The writing is really superb, and I definitely have plenty of vivid images in my head while I read House of Spines. This is the first book I’ve read by this author, but I am now very eager to read some of his other works too.

House of Spines really is a fantastic read. It keeps you hooked from the get go, and definitely makes you question what you know is real. The detail in the book is beautiful and I am going to be recommending this book to everyone I know.


Book Review: Done Dirt Cheap – Sarah Nicole Lemon

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Release Date: March 7th 2017
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 336
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads
Source: Abrams and Chronicle kindly sent me a copy of this to review

Synopsis:

Tourmaline Harris’s life hit pause at fifteen, when her mom went to prison because of Tourmaline’s unintentionally damning testimony. But at eighteen, her home life is stable, and she has a strong relationship with her father, the president of a local biker club known as the Wardens.

Virginia Campbell’s life hit fast-forward at fifteen, when her mom “sold” her into the services of a local lawyer: a man for whom the law is merely a suggestion. When Hazard sets his sights on dismantling the Wardens, he sends in Virginia, who has every intention of selling out the club—and Tourmaline. But the two girls are stronger than the circumstances that brought them together, and their resilience defines the friendship at the heart of this powerful debut novel.

Review:

Done Dirt Cheap was a book that really surprised me. I kind of expected a wild Son’s of Anarchy type of book full of biker gangs and crime, and while that was part of it, it was really so much more. The story of Tourmaline and Virginia and fascinating, two women sticking together despite the odds and defying the odds.

I thought the characters were really striking and they’re what kept me hooked the whole way though the story. Tourmaline dealing with her mother’s imprisonment and her father’s secretive nature, as well as the fact that he’s the president of a biker gang. Then there’s Virginia, who has no real family and has to work for the local drug dealer in order to get by. I loved that these two characters didn’t really have anything in common, but they formed a friendship and they stuck together, no matter how tough things got.

The book was fairly well paced, though I did feel it slowed down a little in the middle as Virginia and Tourmaline were trying to lie low. The ending did definitely have me on the edge of my seat, rooting for the two girls to succeed. The book has a very feminist style feel to it, with the two main protagonists taking action and going where they need to – they definitely don’t rely on the male characters to do their dirty work or save them.

I also really loved the setting, with the beautiful American summer and the gleaming motorbikes. It really came alive, and I got completely sucked into the setting from my dreary Edinburgh surroundings. It features really strong and fierce women and it has everything from crime and trickery to romance. If you’re looking for a fun fast summer read about the friendship between two fantastic female characters, Done Dirt Cheap is exactly what you’re looking for.


Blog Tour: The Final Correction – Alec Birri

 

Release Date: July 28th 2017
Publisher: Troubadour Publishing
Pages: 273
Find it On: Amazon. Goodreads
Source: I was kindly sent a copy of this book by Bookollective for this blog tour.

Synopsis:

What if all brain disorders were treatable? No one would lament the passing of dementia or autism, but what if the twisted mind of a sex-offender or murderer could be cured too? Or how about a terrorist or maybe a political extremist? What if we could all be ‘corrected’?

So, Professor Savage has been unmasked as the monster Alex Salib always knew he was. But what was their agreement and why is she still determined to see it through? The war on terror appears to be back on track but why does President Kalten seem hell bent on ramping it up – are the Americans seriously intent on starting World War Three?

And what of the treatment itself? Despite Savage’s arrest, the ‘corrections’ go on but to what end? The laws of unintended consequences are about to cause a seismic shift in the very nature of our existence. But then our new masters know that and won’t let it happen until we’re ready…
…Ready to accept the unacceptable.

Review:

Welcome to my stop on The Final Correction blog tour, run by the lovely folks over at Bookollective! The Final Correction is the third book in the Condition series, ending a trilogy of mysterious medical thrillers. I really loved the premise, the idea that brain disorders were treatable. But it’s so much more than just treating brain disorders, those with thoughts that are not what society wants them to be – murderers, those with extreme views, their ‘brain disorders’ can also be treated. I think with the advancement of technology and how rapidly medicine is advancing this is quite a realistic premise, and as a result that made the book even more enjoyable because it felt infinitely possible.

As stated this is the third book in the series. I haven’t personally read the other two books, and this one can be read as a stand alone. After having read the book I do feel like I’d like to go back and read books one and two, because although I enjoyed the story I felt there were some things I had missed out on in the first parts of the series.

The one thing about this book is that it constantly surprised me. Just when I thought I knew where things were headed, they twisted off in another direction. It’s a really enjoyable story, and the more you read the more intrigued you get – as the reader you definitely want to know more. The book is well written and paced excellently, giving the reader time to comprehend the multi-layered plot that is going on. Although there aren’t too many characters, they are very well portrayed, showing plenty of depth and emotion.

After finishing the book I went to do a little research before I wrote my blog post and was stunned to find that this series is actually based on the authors own experience in command of a top secret government organisation. For me this made the book all the more frightening and realistic. If that doesn’t give you food for thought, I don’t know what will!

Thanks for checking out my stop on The Final Correction blog tour, be sure to check out the other stops listed on the banner above! 


Book Review: Dragon’s Green – Scarlett Thomas

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Release Date: 6th April 2017
Publisher: Canongate
Pages: 354
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads. 
Source: Canongate kindly gave me a copy of this book to read.

Synopsis:

Effie Truelove believes in magic, as does her grandfather Griffin (although he refuses to do any magic, let alone teach Effie how to use it). After a mysterious incident leaves Griffin close to death, Effie is given an unusual silver ring and told she must look after her grandfather’s library of rare and powerful books. But then the books fall into the hands of shady scholar Leonard Levar, and Effie is propelled into the most dangerous adventure of her life.

Now, Effie and her friends—nerdy Maximilian, rugby-mad Wolf, helpful Lexy, and eccentric Raven—must discover their true powers if they are to get the books back. And Effie alone will have to travel to the Otherworld, where she will uncover the true meaning of the strange old book called Dragon’s Green

Review:

Going into this book I hadn’t read anything by Scarlett Thomas before. I own a couple of her books for adults, but they are on my never ending to be read pile at the moment. I have a few friends who absolutely adore her books, so I was really looking forward to getting stuck into Dragon’s Green, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed.

Dragon’s Green is the first book in the Worldquake Sequence. A series which children and adults alike are just going to adore. The book is packed full of magic and excitement, and I adored it from start to finish. This book reminded me of so many books I’ve read as a child, and I really didn’t want it to end. It’s beautifully written in a smart and witty way, and the characters really leap off the page. Our main protagonist Effie is razor sharp, and a true hero.

The world building is also absolutely superb, there’s magic and monsters (and even a dragon) but all the little details are there too – M Currency and portals to the Otherworld are all richly described to really immerse the reader in this fantastic setting. This is the kind of book I would read again and again, and definitely pass on to my children. I also adored that gorgeous glow in the dark cover, it really gives you a glimpse into the exciting story within. I for one am now very much looking forward to seeing where The WorldQuake Sequence goes next, and am definitely going to be diving into Scarlett Thomas’s adult books too.

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Book Review: First Love – Gwendoline Riley

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Release Date: 2nd February 2017
Publisher: Granta
Pages: 169
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: Granta kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis:

Neve, the novel’s acutely intelligent narrator, is beset by financial anxiety and isolation, but can’t quite manage to extricate herself from her volatile partner, Edwyn. Told with emotional remove and bracing clarity, First Love is an account of the relationship between two catastrophically ill-suited people walking a precarious line between relative calm and explosive confrontation.

Review:

It took me a very long time to get my thoughts in order about First Love. Despite being not even 200 pages, this was a very heavy read, and took me quite a while to get through. The book is very much a character study, and focuses on the relationship between our main character Neve (the book is told from her perspective) and her marriage to the slightly older Edwyn.

As the book continues on, their relationship becomes more and more volatile, and it becomes clear they are definitely not suited to be with each other. The relationship is portrayed as very claustrophobic and confining, and Riley’s simple narrative style definitely imparts that to the reader. It’s a very fascinating read as we see Edwyn project his anger and self-loathing on to Neve, we see Neve have doubts about their relationship and begin to hate herself for continuing to stay with Edwyn despite how he treats her. There’s quite a lot of dialogue in the book, as there are only a few characters, the majority of the plot takes place in the conversations between the couple. The conversations flow really well, and seems very natural, and they definitely fit with the minimalist writing style.

This is certainly not a happy ending kind of book, and while it might not take you too long to read, it certainly gives you a lot to think about. The book was shortlisted for the Bailey’s Prize and I can completely understand why. It is hard hitting and sharply written. While it was a compelling book, I can’t particularly say that I enjoyed my time reading it. For me this was an interesting read, but did not draw me in the way that my five star reads do. I do definitely think it’s worth reading, and if you find yourself with a few spare hours on a quiet Sunday afternoon, First Love might just be the compelling piece of writing you’re looking for.


Book Review: S.T.A.G.S – M. A. Bennett

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Release Date: 10th August 2017
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Pages: 294
Find It On: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: I was sent a copy of this book through ReadersFirst

Synopsis:

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…

Review:

This was such a fun and enjoyable read. I read it over the course of two days, and the mystery kept me wanting more the whole way through. S.T.A.G.S is quite unlike anything I’ve ever read, and takes a common theme – being an outsider – and turns it into a whole new ballgame.

I really loved the characters in this book. Greer’s Dad is a nature film maker, so the two watch a lot of movies, and I really liked the way she continually referenced films in order to explain her point. I also really liked Nel and Shafeen, Greer’s only real companions. I also found it really interesting the way the Medievals are like carbon copies of each other, M.A. Bennett did a fantastic job of bringing out everyone’s high school nightmare with this group.

The setting for S.T.A.G.S is a really beautiful one, and one that definitely came alive in the story. It certainly is huntin’ shootin’ fishin’ village, with lots of mountains and lakes. The setting in the heart of the Lake District really is a fantastic backdrop for this story.

S.T.A.G.S is certainly a twisty and turn-y thriller. As Greer and her friends attempt to figure out what on earth is going on, there are several things you’ll totally see coming, but also more than a few that you’ll be completely a taken back by (I know I was). I love a story that can keep me guessing, and this exciting YA mystery, definitely ticks that box. S.T.A.G.S would also make one hell of a movie/television series, so I’m definitely going to be keeping my fingers crossed for that. If you’re looking for a quick and entertaining mystery, S.T.A.G.S is a must read for sure.


Blog Tour: The Companions – Sarah Dunnakey

33548805Release Date: July 27th 2017
Pages: 320
Publisher: Orion
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: Orion kindly sent me a copy to review for this blog tour.

Synopsis:

1932 – Twelve-year-old Billy Shaw lives in a palace. Potter’s Pleasure Palace – the best entertainment venue this side of the Pennines, complete with dancing and swing-boats and picnickers and a roller-skating rink. Billy’s ma runs the tea rooms and Billy himself looks forward to becoming the assistant to Mr Potter when he grows up. Until, that is, Mr Potter arranges for Billy to go to High Hob, the big house at the top of the valley, to be companion to Jasper Harper.

Jasper lives with his mother Edie and his Uncle Charles, brother and sister authors, escaped from London, and some say debt and scandal, in order to write. On his arrival, Billy finds a haphazard household where nothing that’s meant is said, and he runs wild with the untamed Jasper, spending all the time they can on the moors trying to catch The Beast. For four years the boys are inseparable, but when Charles and Edie are found dead, ruled a double suicide, Billy has already left the valley to start a new life in London. His time in the Harper household is written out of history.

2015 – Newly-appointed custodian of Ackerdean Mill, formerly the Palace, Anna Sallis begins to sort through the chaotic archives of the Mill, the Palace and the Harper siblings, and finds documents pointing to inconsistencies in the accepted story of Charles and Edie’s suicide. Anna becomes curious about what happened to her neighbour Frank’s Uncle Billy, absent from the known story. Why did he leave the valley? And what did he know about the events at High Hob?

Review:

Welcome to my stop on The Companion blog tour! I really enjoyed this book, it’s mysterious story, full of suspense with plenty of history thrown in too. The Companion features two alternative points of view. One in current times (2015) and one in 1932 when Charles and Edie were alive. I really love this kind of dual narrative because it really builds the suspense, and you get to see things from all different angles.

One of my favourite things about this book was the beautifully written prose. It flows seamlessly between the two different time frames, and I so easily became absorbed in the lovely writing. The writing is wonderfully descriptive, and it really makes the setting come alive. The book is obviously full of mystery, and I loved that it kept me guessing right until the end. I something think if you figure out what has happened straight away it can ruin your enjoyment a little, and while I did guess one or two things there were plenty things I  kept wondering about right till the very end.

The characters are really well portrayed too. Billy is definitely my favourite, and I loved the strong sense of Yorkshire dialect that came through the book. I also found Anna really interesting too, as she collected all the information and unearthed these long forgotten secrets.

I also absolutely love the gorgeous and atmospheric cover for book, it’s really striking and definitely adds to that overall mysterious appeal. The Companion is a really addictive, enjoyable read and I have since passed it on to my mum who kept asking me what the book was about. If you’re looking for a page turner of a book to read over the summer, The Companion will definitely keep you occupied on your days off!

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Thanks for checking out my stop on The Companion blog tour, be sure to check out the other stops below!

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Book Review: From Syria With Love – Molly Masters

33123079Release Date: 9th February 2017
Pages: 112
Publisher: Apostrophe Books
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: I received a free copy of this book from IndieBooks in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis:

The Syrian conflict has turned more than a million children into refugees. Here, a group of them tell their stories through their own words and pictures, and by inspiring other creative voices. In this deeply moving yet inspiring book we see their daily lives in a refugee camp in Lebanon and hear their dreams for the future – above all, of returning to the country they love. The result is an honest portrait of the conflict, a challenge to our own priorities and prejudices, and an affirmation of our common humanity.

Review:

This is a really heartbreaking book. This book is published by Apostrophe Books and all money made from the book goes to those in refugee camps. Previous to reading this I knew very little about what life was like in these camps, but within this book contains some stories about life in the camps, as well as horrific stories of where people have escaped from.

From Syria With Love is a charity which showcases artwork and paintings by Syrian children who are currently caught in the refugee crisis.  Again they exhibit this in an effort to provide food clothing and supplies for those featured in the book. The book was very moving, and at some points I found it difficult to read, due to the harrowing nature of the events. The artwork is really interesting to look at, and I think it’s a really fabulous idea to produce a book which helps to raise money for those in need.

Reading From Syria With Love really makes you think about how lucky you are, and how often you take comforts like a roof over your head and food and money for granted. This is a really powerful book and will definitely hit people hard. On more than one occasion it certainly drove me to tears, and the combination of real life stories and visual artwork by the children really does make for a compelling book. It also supports a really amazing cause, so if you have the chance to check it out, head to http://fromsyriawithlove.org/ where you can see some of the artwork, and find out more about the book.