Feature: September Book Haul!

Or as I’m calling it the month I bought waaaay too many books. In my defence, my birthday was in September, I also finished my dissertation at the end of August and had to celebrate and loads of really good books came out that I had to get my paws on. So here we go!

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1. Frostblood & Fireblood – Elly Blake

So I absolutely loved Frostblood when I read an E-ARC from Netgalley late last year, but for some reason I hadn’t gotten around to picking up a physical copy. I was dying to read Fireblood, so I thought now might be the perfect opportunity to pick up a copy of each! (You can also read my review of Frostblood here).

The frost king will burn.
Seventeen-year-old Ruby is a Fireblood who has concealed her powers of heat and flame from the cruel Frostblood ruling class her entire life. But when her mother is killed trying to protect her, and rebel Frostbloods demand her help to overthrow their bloodthirsty king, she agrees to come out of hiding, desperate to have her revenge.

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2. An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir

I have sadly never read An Ember in the Ashes. I’ve heard such wonderful things about it from tons of bloggers, so when I saw it just after I finished my dissertation was submitted, I knew I had to rectify that and get myself a copy!

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.
 Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.
 It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.
 But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

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3. Obsession – Amanda Robson

I saw lots of posts on Twitter about this book when it first came out and lots of bloggers were raving about it, so when I saw it on sale for just £2 in The Works, I picked myself up a copy. Looking forward to reading it on one of these chilly autumn evenings!

One evening, a wife asks her husband a question: who else would you go for, if you could?
It is a simple question – a little game – that will destroy her life.

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4. The Fifth Season – N. K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season is a book I’ve always wanted to read, so again when I saw it in The Works I rushed to buy a copy. Can’t wait to read this beauty. 

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS. AGAIN.
Three terrible things happen in a single day.
Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world’s sole continent, a great red rift has been been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

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5. High Stakes – ed. by George R. R. Martin & Melinda M. Snodgrass

I love George R. R. Martin’s books, and I read pretty much everything he’s ever written. I’ve never read his Wildcard series, which he edits along with Melinda Snodgrass, so I figured I might give it a shot and see how it goes!

Perfect for old fans and new readers alike, High Stakes (Wild Cards) delves deeper into the world of aces, jokers, and the hard-boiled men and women of the Fort Freak police precinct in a pulpy, page-turning novel of superheroics and Lovecraftian horror.

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6. Kingdom of Sleep – E. K. Johnston

I absolutely adored A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston, but for some reason had heard virtually nothing about this beauty. I was browsing in Waterstones when I came across Kingdom of Sleep, and if that beautiful cover doesn’t make you want to read it, the blurb will have you hooked!

The world is made safe by a woman . . . but it is a very big world.
It has been generations since the Storyteller Queen saved her country from fire and blood – but now, the kingdom of Kharuf is threatened by a demon gathering power. When a princess is born, the demon is ready with her final blow: a curse that will cost that princess her very soul, or force her to destroy her own people to save her life.

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7. A Skinful of Shadows – Frances Hardinge

I ashamedly have never read anything by Frances Hardinge (I know!) but I know a lot of people were really excited for this book coming out. I picked it up in the airport bookshop while I was waiting for my flight and it just sounded so good that I couldn’t resist.

This is the story of a bear-hearted girl . . .
Sometimes, when a person dies, their spirit goes looking for somewhere to hide. 
Some people have space within them, perfect for hiding. 
Twelve-year-old Makepeace has learned to defend herself from the ghosts which try to possess her in the night, desperate for refuge, but one day a dreadful event causes her to drop her guard. 
And now there’s a spirit inside her. 

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8. The Language of Thorns – Leigh Bardugo

I don’t think I have to say too much about this one, it’s probably one of my most anticipated books of 2017. It has pretty much gone to the top of my TBR.

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.
Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.
Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

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9. Sleeping Beauties – Stephen & Owen King

I’m so excited to read this mammoth book. It looks absolutely stunning, though I’m not looking forward to lugging it back and forward with me on my commute!

In this spectacular father-son collaboration, Stephen King and Owen King tell the highest of high-stakes stories: what might happen if women disappeared from the world of men?
In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain? Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is wildly provocative and gloriously absorbing.

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10. Legend, Prodigy & Champion – Marie Lu

I saw a box set of this series for only £6 so I figured now was the perfect time to pick up some beautiful paperback copies!

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.
From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

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11. Perfect Remains – Helen Fields

This is another series I’ve always wanted to read. I recently volunteered at the Bloody Scotland book festival and Helen was on a panel. She talked a lot about her series so I thought it would be the perfect time to pick up a copy, and she signed it which was a fab bonus.

The first in a nail-shredding new crime series. Fans of M.J. Arlidge will be gripped from start to finish.
On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.
In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness.

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12. I Let You Go – Claire Mackintosh

Likewise Claire Mackintosh did a fantastic panel at Bloody Scotland. I didn’t have any pennies on me at the time to pick up a  book, but I did manage to pick up I Let You Go at a later date from my local bookshop, and I’m so looking forward to reading it!

On a rainy afternoon, a mother’s life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street … 
I Let You Go follows Jenna Gray as she moves to a ramshackle cottage on the remote Welsh coast, trying to escape the memory of the car accident that plays again and again in her mind and desperate to heal from the loss of her child and the rest of her painful past. 
At the same time, the novel tracks the pair of Bristol police investigators trying to get to the bottom of this hit-and-run. As they chase down one hopeless lead after another, they find themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them.

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13. Tower of Dawn – Sarah J. Maas

This is another one that I probably don’t have to say much about. The next instalment in an absolutely wonderful series.

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.
His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica—the stronghold of the southern continent’s mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.
But what they discover in Antica will change them both—and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.

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14. King’s Cage – Victoria Aveyard

I absolutely loved Red Queen but for some reason I haven’t gotten around to reading the rest of the series. Planning to rectify that over the next few weeks so I picked up the latest instalment, and I cannot wait to read it!

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.
As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.
When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.
 


Book Review: Wonderwoman: Warbringer – Leigh Bardugo

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Series: DC Icons #1
Release Date: August 29th 2017
Pages: 369
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: Penguin Random House kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis:

Daughter of immortals.

Princess Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mortal. Diana will soon learn that she has rescued no ordinary girl, and that with this single brave act, she may have doomed the world.

Daughter of death.

Alia Keralis just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted by people who think her very existence could spark a world war. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together.

Two girls will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. Tested beyond the bounds of their abilities, Diana and Alia must find a way to unleash hidden strengths and forge an unlikely alliance. Because if they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.

Review:

 

This was a bit of an odd read for me. I love DC Comics, but have never really clicked with Wonderwoman. When I heard that Penguin were doing a YA series of DC heroes I jumped at the chance to read them, even more so when I found out that Leigh Bardugo (one of my favourite authors) would be writing one. However I was still a bit unsure how it would go when Wonderwoman wasn’t a story I was all that familiar with.

It took me a little while to get into the story. I found the beginning with Diana on the island a little slow, but as soon as Diana got to New York, I was sucked in and couldn’t put the book down. I’m so glad I was given the chance to review this book, because it’s honestly one of the best superhero stories I’ve ever read.

Warbringer really has it all. It’s full of action, Diana fighting bad guys and kicking butt, being the strong and fantastic heroine. It’s also full of mythology and meticulous research, a wonderful cast of characters – I loved scientist and all round geeky girl Alia and her best friend the fashion and style icon Nim so much. The one thing that really took me by surprise was how funny the book was. Bardugo gives Diana a really distinct voice, and it’s a wonderful story watching her be both Amazon Princess and a young woman doing normal things (interacting with boys, making friends, living up to the expectations of her mother). It’s a well crafted and multi-layered story that I lost myself in for hours on end.

As well as the fantastic characters and funny moments the story is just a really intriguing concept, the idea of the warbringer and the effect it has on the world. There were plenty of twists I didn’t see coming, and that made the story all the more enjoyable. This has even more solidified Leigh Bardugo’s place as one of my favourite authors, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what’s next in store for the DC Icons series.

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Blog Tour: The Dancing Girl and the Turtle – Karen Kao

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Release Date: April 1st 2017
Publisher: Linen Press
Pages: 288
Find it on: Goodreads. Amazon. LP Bookshop.
Source: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher to review.

Synopsis:

A rape. A war. A society where women are bought and sold but no one can speak of shame. Shanghai 1937. Violence throbs at the heart of The Dancing Girl and the Turtle.

Song Anyi is on the road to Shanghai and freedom when she is raped and left for dead. The silence and shame that mark her courageous survival drive her to escalating self-harm and prostitution. From opium dens to high- class brothels, Anyi dances on the edge of destruction while China prepares for war with Japan. Hers is the voice of every woman who fights for independence against overwhelming odds.

The Dancing Girl and the Turtle is one of four interlocking novels set in Shanghai from 1929 to 1954. Through the eyes of the dancer, Song Anyi, and her brother Kang, the Shanghai Quartet spans a tumultuous time in Chinese history: war with the Japanese, the influx of stateless Jews into Shanghai, civil war and revolution. How does the love of a sister destroy her brother and all those around him.

Review:

 

This is a book that will stay with me for a long time. Haunting and beautifully written, The Dancing Girl BTThe Dancing Girl and the Turtle is the story of Song Anyi, a young woman who after the death of her parents, travels to Shanghai to stay with her Aunt and Uncle. On the way there she is attacked by three men, raped and left for dead. What follows is her descent into prostitution and self harm in an attempt to deal with this horrific event.

This book is a really powerful one, and the story of Song Anyi is incredibly compelling reading. At times it was uncomfortable, but throughout it was vivid and well portrayed. The book is broken up into short chapters, and each one features differing view points of characters – some from Anyi and her brother Kang, and other times her cousin Cho and their maid Blossom. I really loved these differing points of view, it offered a chance to see Anyi and the story from different perspectives and really served to highlight the way that the Song family attempt to deal with what happened to Anyi – with a sense of shame, pretending it never happened.

The Dancing Girl and the Turtle also has a really fascinating backdrop – China in the 1930s – a time when women had no voice and little say in their lives. This combined with the country preparing for war with Japan, makes for a very rich and compelling setting. Initially I thought The Dancing Girl and the Turtle might be a quick read – being only 280 pages – but there is so much history, so much detail about women fighting for their right to be heard, that I found myself really taking my time, in order to savour this beautiful novel. If you only read one book this autumn, make it the beautiful and atmospheric Dancing Girl and the Turtle.

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Blog Tour: The Cost of Living – Rachel Ward

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After a young woman is brutally attacked on her way home from the local supermarket, checkout girl Bea is determined to find out who’s responsible. She enlists the help of Ant, the seemingly gormless new trainee – but can she really trust him? Customers and colleagues become suspects, secrets are uncovered, and while fear stalks the town, Bea risks losing the people she loves most.

Now read an interview with author Rachel Ward!

1. For those that haven’t read The Cost of Living, can you tell us a bit about it?

The Cost of Living is a detective story with a difference. It is set in and around a fictional supermarket and my ‘detectives’ are Bea, a smart checkout girl, and Ant, a seemingly gormless new trainee. It’s at the cosy end of the crime spectrum, although there is still some darkness in there.

2. What inspired you to write the book?

I started with my main characters. Bea wandered into my head first. I knew what she looked like and where she worked and it occurred to me that all human life passes through a supermarket and it was rich material for a book. I’d wanted to try a detective story for ages and the two things just came together.

3. You’ve written books in several different genres, did you feel in any major differences writing The Cost of Living versus Numbers/The Drowning?

For some reason writing The Cost of Living was much easier than writing all my YA books, except Numbers. I think with both of these books I was writing without any expectations, just telling myself the story. With a crime book there are certain conventions (at the very least you need a crime near the beginning and some sort of resolution at the end), which I enjoyed playing with.

4. What was the writing process like for the book, did it take you long to complete?

This was a new process for me. For the first time I sent it chapter by chapter to my husband’s kindle. He gave me feedback on each chapter and was keen to receive the next instalment. This continued when he had to live in hospital waiting for a heart transplant. It was a rather wonderful thing, actually. The book took just under a year to write, with a few breaks for other writing and domestic upheaval. I’m continuing with the writing in instalments process for my next book. So far his feedback has been positive!

5. When coming up with new characters how do you go about it? Are they based around people in your life or completely creative?

I try not to base characters on people that I know, although occasionally they sneak in. Sometimes I go shopping for characters by deliberately observing people when I am out and about, noting down appearances, clothes, etc. on my phone if I think they might be useful. I also get inspiration from tv programmes, especially reality and talent shows, the news and films.

6. Now that The Cost of Living is about to be released, what are you working on next?

I’m about halfway through a sequel. I’ve got quite a few plots in mind for Ant and Bea and I hope I get the chance to write them.

7. The cover for The Cost of Living is really striking! Did you have any input into the overall cover design?

I love the cover! It really sums up the book for me, both the content and the tone. It was designed by the very talented David Wardle, commissioned by Sandstone Press, my lovely publisher. They did show me an early design and asked for my feedback. All I could really do was gasp and go ‘Wow, I love it!’

8. Finally can you recommend us a good book you’ve read recently?

Oooh, I mostly read crime these days and the series I’ve enjoyed recently is by Jorn Lier Horst, a Norwegian writer and former police investigator. I’ve rattled through all his William Wisting books that have been translated so far and am eagerly waiting for more. Taking a break from crime, I read Ready Player One. I had bought it for my son, who is a gamer, and he loved it and insisted that I read it. I can see why – it’s a cracking story, believable, authentic and exciting.

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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: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe – Lauren James

32601841Release Date: 7th September 2017
Publisher: Walker Books
Pages: 290
Source: I was lucky to pick up an early copy at YALC!
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.

Synopsis:

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?

Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.

Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?

Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .

Review:

This is easily one of my favourite books of 2017. (I know I’ve said that a lot this year, 2017 has been a fabulous year for books after all). But honestly, I can’t reccommend this book highly enough. I’d heard some of the buzz about it on social media, and so when it was announced that people attending this years Young Adult Literature Convention would be able to buy early copies, I jumped at the chance.

This was my first outing into a book by Lauren James, but I’m now eager to read all her other books too. This book is superbly written, enveloping you completely in the claustrophobic confines of space.

I just adored the premise of this book – Romy Silver has never been to Earth, she was born in space, but now she’s completely alone living in a space ship in search of a new Earth for future generations. I loved Romy, the girl who has dealt with so much in her young life, yet never actually set foot on the earth, had a sleepover or been around anyone her own age.

Romy is smart, stubborn and a fantastic protagonist. She might be the youngest Commander of a spaceship, but she also just kind of wants to obsess over her favourite TV series and write fan fiction. She’s relatable in so many ways, she’s a bit awkward and suffers from anxiety – I absolutely adored her.

The plot of this book is tense, and more than a little creepy and on several occasions I definitely felt the urge to gasp out loud. James drew me in hook line and sinker, and I loved every second of it.

I must admit I had sort of expected to read this over a few days, the short chapters being great to read over my lunch break at work. However after getting home from YALC I decided to read the first few chapters and by then I was completely sucked in and finished the book in one sitting.

If you’re looking for a tense, superbly written mystery, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is definitely the book to pick up this month.

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Feature: August Book Haul

How can it possibly be the end of August already? This month really has flown in. Even though I feel like it has been and gone in the blink of an eye, I still managed to buy more than a few books. Here they are:

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1. Perfect Ruin – Lauren De Stefano

I absolutely adore Lauren De Stefano’s series Wither. I’ve read it more than once and I still recommend it to people all the time. So you can imagine my surprise when I learned that an author I loved had a whole other series that I hadn’t read. It sounds fantastic and so this was my first purchase for the month. I must say the copy I bought does not have a cover as eye catching as this one, but I’m still very excited to read it.

On the floating city, you can be anything you dream – a novelist or a singer, a florist or a factory worker… Your life is yours to embrace or to squander. There’s only one rule: you don’t approach THE EDGE. If you do, it’s already over.

Morgan Stockhour knows getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though her older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. There’s too much for her at home: her parents, best friend Pen, and her betrothed, Basil. Her life is ordinary and safe, even if she sometimes does wonder about the ground and why it’s forbidden.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially once she meets Judas. Betrothed to the victim, Judas is being blamed for the murder, but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find—or whom she will lose.

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2. The Flame in the Mist – Renee Ahdieh

This is a book I’ve been hearing loads about amongst the book blogging community. I’ve seen loads of people post absolutely glowing reviews of it, and so when I saw it in the bookshop, I decided I definitely had to go and find out what all the fuss was about!

The only daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always known she’d been raised for one purpose and one purpose only: to marry. Never mind her cunning, which rivals that of her twin brother, Kenshin, or her skills as an accomplished alchemist. Since Mariko was not born a boy, her fate was sealed the moment she drew her first breath.

So, at just seventeen years old, Mariko is sent to the imperial palace to meet her betrothed, a man she did not choose, for the very first time. But the journey is cut short when Mariko’s convoy is viciously attacked by the Black Clan, a dangerous group of bandits who’ve been hired to kill Mariko before she reaches the palace.

The lone survivor, Mariko narrowly escapes to the woods, where she plots her revenge. Dressed as a peasant boy, she sets out to infiltrate the Black Clan and hunt down those responsible for the target on her back. Once she’s within their ranks, though, Mariko finds for the first time she’s appreciated for her intellect and abilities. She even finds herself falling in love—a love that will force her to question everything she’s ever known about her family, her purpose, and her deepest desires.
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3. The Crown’s Game – Evelyn Skye

The Crown’s Game has been on my wishlist forever. I’ve been continually meaning to buy it because it sounds fantastic. I was given an Amazon Giftcard as a present recently, and so one of my purchases was this beauty!

Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip-smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love…or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear—the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.
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4. Dividing Even – Joelle Charbonneau

This was another Amazon purchase (I know) because my local Waterstones didn’t have it in stock. It sounds similar to Three Dark Crowns, and I’m hoping it will be a really gripping read!

Twins Carys and Andreus were never destined to rule Eden. With their older brother next in line to inherit the throne, the future of the kingdom was secure.

But appearances—and rivals—can be deceiving. When Eden’s king and crown prince are killed by assassins, Eden desperately needs a monarch, but the line of succession is no longer clear. With a ruling council scheming to gain power, Carys and Andreus are faced with only one option—to take part in a Trial of Succession that will determine which one of them is worthy of ruling the kingdom.

As sister and brother, Carys and Andreus have always kept each other safe—from their secrets, from the court, and from the monsters lurking in the mountains beyond the kingdom’s wall. But the Trial of Succession will test the bonds of trust and family.

With their country and their hearts divided, Carys and Andreus will discover exactly what each will do to win the crown. How long before suspicion takes hold and the thirst for power leads to the ultimate betrayal?

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5. Spindle Fire/Winter Glass – Lexa Hillyer

Last month the horrific news event was the fire at Grenfell Tower. As I’m sure most of you know, many authors and publishers  attempted to do their bit to help the victims of this awful event by doing online auctions. I tried to bid as much as possible, and the auction that I won was for Lexa Hillyer’s book Spindle Fire and a proof of the sequel to Spindle Fire – Winter Glass. I was obsessed with Sleeping Beauty as a child and Spindle Fire has been on my wishlist since it came out in march, so I was really pleased to win the auction, and to contribute to the victims, even if only in a small way. 

A kingdom burns. A princess sleeps. This is no fairy tale.

It all started with the burning of the spindles.

No.

It all started with a curse…

Half sisters Isabelle and Aurora are polar opposites: Isabelle is the king’s headstrong illegitimate daughter, whose sight was tithed by faeries; Aurora, beautiful and sheltered, was tithed her sense of touch and her voice on the same day. Despite their differences, the sisters have always been extremely close.

And then everything changes, with a single drop of Aurora’s blood—and a sleep so deep it cannot be broken.

As the faerie queen and her army of Vultures prepare to march, Isabelle must race to find a prince who can awaken her sister with the kiss of true love and seal their two kingdoms in an alliance against the queen.

Isabelle crosses land and sea; unearthly, thorny vines rise up the palace walls; and whispers of revolt travel in the ashes on the wind. The kingdom falls to ruin under layers of snow. Meanwhile, Aurora wakes up in a strange and enchanted world, where a mysterious hunter may be the secret to her escape…or the reason for her to stay.

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6. Proof of Forever – Lexa Hillyer

As part of the auction lot there was also a copy of Proof of Forever, Lexa’s first published novel. This sounds like a really fun and enjoyable read, and I can’t wait to get stuck in. She also kindly signed and personalised all three books, and they currently have pride of place on my bookshelf.

Before: It was the perfect summer of first kisses, skinny-dipping, and bonfires by the lake. Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe knew their final summer at Camp Okahatchee would come to an end, but they swore they’d stay friends.

After: Now, two years later, their bond has faded along with those memories.

Then: That is, until the fateful flash of a photo booth camera transports the four of them back in time, to the summer they were fifteen—the summer everything changed.

Now: The girls must recreate the past in order to return to the present. As they live through their second-chance summer, the mystery behind their lost friendship unravels, and a dark secret threatens to tear the girls apart all over again.

Always: Summers end. But this one will change them forever.

So those are the books I bought in August. What books did you buy? Have you read any of these, and if you have what did you think? Let me 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.