Book Review: Shell – Paula Rawsthorne


Release Date: 4th January 2018
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 416
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: Scholastic kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

What if you thought you had died, only to wake up to find that your brain and eyes had been transplanted into someone else’s body?

When Lucy, a teen diagnosed with terminal cancer wakes up cancer-free, it should be a dream come true. But faced with a life she didn’t choose and trapped in a new body, Lucy must face the biggest question of all . . . How far would you go to save the one you love?

Review

This book was so freaky. Imagine waking up in someone else’s body, but with your personality and all your memories? All your friends think you’re dead and you have to pretend to be someone else. Could you do it?

2018 marks the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and I couldn’t think of a better celebration than this fantastic retelling. This book is quite fast paced, developing quickly as Lucy adapts to her new life in a new body. I really like Lucy as a main character, she was flawed and at times difficult, but that made her all the more realistic. I also found her parents really complex and fascinating, attempting to understand their motivations and looking at how far they will go to keep their daughter alive.

Shell touches on a lot of different themes, doing what’s right, finding yourself, friendship, bravery and family are just some of them. These really help to hook you in, and I definitely felt for Lucy and her struggle to keep going despite everything she’s been through. She has to make a lot of tough decisions, but the book is all the more intense and gripping for that reason.

Shell definitely also has some twists and turns that I didn’t see coming. The ending is quite a surprise and definitely gives you some food for thought. At times I found the book pretty dark and gory, but also dramatic and addictive. This is a superb modern retelling, and if you’re looking for something different to read, or you’re a fan of Mary Shelley’s version, you definitely need to give this a try.


Book Review: The Fandom – Anna Day


Release Date: January 4th 2018
Publisher: Chicken House Books
Pages: 336
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: The folks at Chicken House kindly sent me a proof of this book to review.

Synopsis

Cosplay ready, Violet and her friends are at Comic-Con.

They can’t wait to meet the fandom of mega movie, The Gallows Dance. What they’re not expecting is to be catapulted by freak accident into their favourite world – for real. Fuelled by love, guilt and fear, can the friends put the plot back on track and get out? The fate of the story is in their hands…

Review

How many times have you read a book and wished you could go and visit the world in which it’s set? We’d all love to go and visit Narnia or Hogwarts or Middle Earth, but what would you actually do when you got there, and more importantly how would you get home?

I absolutely loved the concept of this book. Violet and her friends are at Comic-Con, they’re having a great time and meeting the star of their favourite book turned film, The Gallows Dance. Somehow they end up travelling to the universe the book is set and have to find a way to keep the story moving, and keep themselves alive.

The story is action packed, and well paced. The story is multi-layered, Violet is attempting to keep on the track of the original story, Alice is forging a new story and Katie is being help prisoner. Meanwhile everyone is trying to figure out how to get back home. The group soon find that just because you know everything about a story, doesn’t mean you actually want to visit.

The one thing that surprised me about this book is how funny it was. The colourful swear words that Katie uses, how clumsy and awkward Violet is, adds another layer to these fascinating characters, and really made me fall in love with them. You really root for Violet and her little brother Nate. I also loved the references to well known YA books – “Just like Tris and Katniss.” This book really appeals to my inner fan girl, and I loved that.

The book is divided up into pretty short chapters, and that also helps to make the book feel even more fast paced and action packed. I definitely thought this was a unique read and something I’ve never come across before. I did feel there was a bit of repetition which jarred a little – Katie’s soft scouse accent must have been mentioned seven or eight times, but overall I really enjoyed this fun and excited story.


Feature: 2018 Releases I’m Excited For!

It’s the start of a new year, and with it a whole new list of books coming out. I’m excited about so many titles, but in no particular order here’s a round up of some of the books I just cannot wait to read!

1. War Storm – Victoria Aveyard

2018 is the year I conquer my series TBR. I read Red Queen and absolutely loved it, but I haven’t got to the rest of the series yet. With War Storm coming out to conclude the series I definitely think it’s time to get this series completed.

2. Catwoman Soulstealer – Sarah J. Maas

I’ve just been loving the DC Icons series. Wonder Woman was fantastic and I couldn’t put Batman down. I can’t wait to see how Sarah J. Maas tackles Catwoman.

3. Legendary – Stephanie Garber

I need this book like yesterday. Caraval was a stunning read full of magic and mystery and I can’t wait to find out what’s in store next.

4. Darksoul – Anna Stephens

Godblind was one of my favourite books of 2017. I loved the complex layers of fantasy and action. It was also super gory. Cannot wait to find out what’s going to happen in this sequel.

5. State of Sorrow – Melinda Salisbury

The Sin Eater’s Daughter broke my heart and had me feeling all the feels. If State of Sorrow is anything like her previous books I know this book is destined to become one of my all time favourites.

6. Heart of Iron – Ashley Poston

Geekerella completely took me by surprise to become a book I absolutely adored and have recommended to absolutely everyone. Excited to see how Ashley Poston handles writing in a different genre.

7. Rage – Cora McCormack

I devoured this book on holiday in Lithuania. I loved the magic and storms and am so excited to see what’s next in store for Roar.

8. Grey Sister – Mark Lawrence

Red Sister was my favourite book of 2017. I’m counting down the days till I get my paws on the next book in the series.

9. Nightblood – Elly Blake

Frostblood and Fireblood were both fantasy books that I really really enjoyed. I’m so looking forward to the next instalment in the series.

10. The Winter of the Witch – Katherine Arden

The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl and the Tower are up there with some of my favourite books ever. I’ve gushed and ranted about how wonderful they are, and I’m so excited to read the conclusion to this breathtaking series.

What 2018 titles are you most excited for? Let me know in the comments below!


Book Review: Everless – Sara Holland


Series: Untitled #1
Release Date: January 2nd 2018
Publisher: Orchard Books
Pages: 336
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: I was kindly given an ARC of this book at YALC.

Synopsis

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

Review

This has got to be one of the most unique YA fantasy books that I’ve ever read. I picked it up on a whim from my YALC pile and absolutely couldn’t put it down. I devoured this book in one breathless sitting, and it definitely left me hungry for more. The concept was probably what intrigued me most about Everless, the idea that time is a currency and if you don’t have enough money to pay for something you can bleed your years to pay for it.

The setting is really lushly described, the stunning Everless estate, which despite its beauty is fraught with danger for Jules. The latter half of the book certainly ramps up the tension, and there’s more than a few twists and turns along the way. I loved the characters, particularly our main protagonist Jules. The characters feel very life like and complex, and that’s something I really enjoyed about Everless. I also loved the mystery aspects of the story – what’s really going on at the Gerling Estate? So many of the characters have secret motives and more going on beneath the surface. The mix of mystery, fantasy and romance is just perfect.

The writing in this book is really beautiful, and the world building is exquisitely detailed. I must admit I had a bit of a book hangover after finishing this gorgeous book. My proof has a plain white cover but I’m so excited to also have a beautiful hardback copy because that cover is just stunning. If you’re looking for a new addictive YA fantasy read that feels truly unique, then you definitely need to pick up Everless.


Book Review: Batman Nightwalker – Marie Lu


Series: DC Icons #2 (See my review of Wonder Woman Warbringer here!)
Release Date: January 2nd 2018
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pages: 272
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: The lovely folks at Penguin Random House kindly sent me this book to review.

Synopsis

Before he was Batman, he was Bruce Wayne. A reckless boy willing to break the rules for a girl who may be his worst enemy.

The Nightwalkers are terrorizing Gotham City, and Bruce Wayne is next on their list.

One by one, the city’s elites are being executed as their mansions’ security systems turn against them, trapping them like prey. Meanwhile, Bruce is turning eighteen and about to inherit his family’s fortune, not to mention the keys to Wayne Enterprises and all the tech gadgetry his heart could ever desire. But after a run-in with the police, he’s forced to do community service at Arkham Asylum, the infamous prison that holds the city’s most brutal criminals.

Madeleine Wallace is a brilliant killer . . . and Bruce’s only hope.

In Arkham, Bruce meets Madeleine, a brilliant girl with ties to the Nightwalkers. What is she hiding? And why will she speak only to Bruce? Madeleine is the mystery Bruce must unravel. But is he getting her to divulge her secrets, or is he feeding her the information she needs to bring Gotham City to its knees? Bruce will walk the dark line between trust and betrayal as the Nightwalkers circle closer.

Review

This is the second book in the DC Icons series. Anyone who has seen my review of Wonder Woman Warbringer or my favourite reads of 2017 will know that I absolutely adored it and couldn’t wait to get my hands on book two. Growing up I absolutely adored Batman, and I was so excited to see what Marie Lu would do with the story – she definitely didn’t disappoint.

The story is full of Gotham’s trademark darkness and corruption, but Bruce Wayne is just a young boy who lost his parents during a mugging gone wrong. One rash decision leads Bruce to community service and everything begins to hype up from there.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s completely different to Wonder Woman, which was quite funny and full of adventure. Nightwalker on the other hand is darker and more tense, and I was definitely hooked in from the start. The characters that Marie Lu has created are fantastic – I loved Madeline the Nightwalker that Bruce befriends. I also loved seeing Bruce’s relationships develop with characters we are already familiar with like Alfred and Harvey Dent.

The book is well paced and there’s plenty of action and mystery to keep you wanting more. The book isn’t a terribly long one, and I ended up reading it in a few sittings. I did prefer the previous book Wonder Woman as I felt this lacked the surprise twists and turns of Warbringer. That being said the book is still a terrific read and if you’re a fan of Batman or superhero fiction, it’s definitely one to pick up.


Feature: Top 15 Books of 2017!

How can it almost be 2018 already? This year has flown in! 2017 has been a really fantastic year for books and I feel like I’ve read some of my favourite books ever. I managed 86 books – my aim was 75 so I’m pretty pleased with that. I’m aiming for even more in 2018 with 100 books. So without futher ado here are my top 15 books of 2017 – I tried so hard to whittle it down to 10 but it just wasn’t happening. They are also in no particular order because I don’t think I could do that to myself, I loved them all so much.

1. The Bear and the Nightingale (The Winternight Trilogy #1) – Katherine Arden

This book came through the post from the lovely folks at Ebury way back in January and it blew me away. It is safe to say that I am obsessed with this trilogy. If you haven’t read it you can read my review gushing rant about how much I love it here.


2. The Girl in the Tower (The Winternight Trilogy #2) – Katherine Arden

With book one being so high on my list of favourite books I can’t tell you how excited I was to receive a proof of book two in the series. If it’s possible I loved this book even more than The Bear and the Nightingale and a review will be coming shortly when I can put into words how stunning it is.

3. Even the Darkest Stars (Even the Darkest Stars #1) – Heather Fawcett

The lovely folks at Harper 360 sent me this beautiful book and I dived in as soon as it came through the door. Magic? Mystery and adventure? Dubious characters and dragons? I mean what more can you possibly need? I loved this story and my review will be up very shortly!

4. The Silent Companions – Laura Purcell

This book gave me the FEAR. It was so scary and so intense and my god I loved it. Hands down the scariest book I have ever read and I cannot wait to see what Laura Purcell writes next.

5. The Bloodprint (The Khorasan Archives #1)  – Ausma Zehanat Khan

I took this book with me when I went to London for an event with Linen Press, on the sleeper back to Glasgow I stayed up pretty much the entire time because I couldn’t put this book down. The writing is stunning, the magic system and world building are amazing. If you want to know more you can check out my review here.

6. Wonder Woman Warbringer (DC Icons #1) – Leigh Bardugo

I love Leigh Bardugo’s books and this was no exception. I was a little apprehensive because I haven’t ever read a Wonder Woman book before – growing up I loved Batman and Harley Quinn, but this book is so well crafted and funny that I just couldn’t leave it off my list. Review here!

7. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe – Lauren James

I picked up a copy of this at the Young Adult Literature Convention and Lauren was kind enough to sign it for me. I started reading it on the way back home and ended up reading it in one sitting because I just had to know what was going to happen next. I’m definitely going to pick up some more Lauren James titles in the new year after read this one. (Review here!)

8. Dawn Study (Study #6) – Maria V. Snyder

I love the Study series so much and this is the final book in the series. Yelena and Valek are some of my favourite ever characters and it was wonderful to have one final adventure.

9. Red Sister (Book of the Ancestor #1) – Mark Lawrence

Anyone who knows me knows that Mark Lawrence is one of my favourite authors (I’m planning to reread The Broken Empire Trilogy in 2018 because I just love it) so when Red Sister was announced I was dying to read it. Mark was kind enough to send me a review copy and I adored it so much. If I really had to pick, this would probably have the top spot for 2017 books. I am not so patiently counting down the days till Grey Sister comes out. (You can read my gushing review for Red Sister here!)

10. Blackwing (The Raven’s Mark #1) – Ed Macdonald

Blackwing is a fantastic new fantasy series that I enjoyed so so much. The world building was epic and this book definitely hooked me from the get go. I am so looking forward to seeing what’s in store next. If you want to know more, here’s my review!

11. Godblind – Anna Stephens

Oh my god this book. I still think about how good it was even though I read it in May? It was so dark and gruesome and just the best kind of fantasy. Book two cannot come soon enough, I just have to know what happens next. (Review here!)

12. See What I Have Done – Sarah Schmidt

See What I Have Done was a fascinating, captivating read. As soon as I was finished it it was promptly pinched by my mum and then my aunt bought a copy because I raved about it. This dark, riveting book follows the story of the Lizzie Borden murders, and if you haven’t read it yet you just have to pick it up. (Review here!)

 

13. The Wages of Sin (Sarah Gilchrist #1) – Kaite Welsh

This wonderful little book is set in Victorian Edinburgh with a fantastic protagonist who is learning medicine in spite of everyone telling her it’s no job for a woman. Full of mystery all in dark and eerie Edinburgh, this book is a stunning read. Check out my review!

14. The Scarecrow Queen (Sin Eater’s Daughter #3) – Melinda Salisbury

The Sin Eater’s Daughter is probably one of my all time favourite books ever. The Scarecrow Queen, the stunning conclusion to this trilogy pretty much had me feeling every emotion possible. I loved this book more than words can say and I’m so looking forward to reading Melinda’s new book, State of Sorrow. (Review here!)

15. Mary’s the Name – Ross Sayers

Last but certainly not least, Mary’s the Name is a beautiful little book with the funniest protagonist. Full of the sights and sounds of Scottish life, I loved this book. You can read my review here, and if you haven’t picked it up yet you definitely need to.

So those are my top 15 books of 2017. What are your favourite reads and have you read any of these? If you did what did you think? Let me know in the comments!


Book Review: How to Stop Time – Matt Haig

Release Date: July 6th 2017
Publisher: Canongate
Pages: 325
Find it: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: The folks at Canongate kindly gave me a copy of this book.

Synopsis:

Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret.

He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him.

The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love.

Review:

I was really struck by the eye-catching cover for How to Stop Time and so when I picked it up and read the synopsis I just knew I had to read it. I really loved this book and absolutely raced through it. The writing is so addictive that I honestly couldn’t put it down. I loved the premise of this book, mainly because it was a unique spin on the being who lives for centuries idea. Tom is not immortal, he simply ages slower than the rest of humanity. It’s a rare condition, and this idea makes the book seem all the more believable.

I loved reading about Tom in different time periods, as he interacts with some of those most well known in history, each time period really comes alive and Haig’s writing really brings out the sights, sounds and smells of those periods. I think it’s definitely a mark of a fantastic story and a fantastic writer that each time period is so distinctive and vivid. The book is of course split into two different points, one from Tom’s past as he adapts to live in different periods, and his present day life as a history teacher in London.

This book was really the kind of book that sucked me in for hours on end, and definitely stayed with me after I finished reading it. There’s been plenty of hype about this book, and in this case I can say it is absolutely justified. It’s beautiful and will make you happy and sad in equal measure. Tom is a wonderful protagonist and this is a stunning book. This is my first time reading a book by Matt Haig, but after this whirlwind it definitely won’t be my last.


Book Review: Spontaneous – Aaron Starmer


Release Date: May 16th 2017
Publisher: Canongate
Pages: 368
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: I received a proof of this book from the folks at Canongate.

Synopsis:

Mara’s senior year is proving to be a lot less exciting than she’d hoped, until the day – KABAM! – Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period. Katelyn is the first, but she won’t be the last senior to explode without warning or explanation. The body count grows and the search is on for a reason, while the students continue to pop like balloons. But if bombs or terrorists or a government conspiracy aren’t to blame, what is?

With the help of her oldest friend, her new boyfriend, a power ballad and a homemade disco ball, will Mara make it to graduation in one piece? It’s going to be one hell of a year, where the only test is how to stay alive and where falling in love might be the worst thing you can do . . .

Review:

This was such a fun and quirky YA read and I raced right through it. The story follows Mara as she’s finishing her last year at high school in a quiet American town. Things go from bad to worse when her classmates start exploding, and no one can figure out why – or who’s going to be next. When I read the premise I wasn’t sure this was going to be for me, but the spontaneous combustion plot works really well and I found myself really enjoying this unique little book.

The book is divided into really short chapters (which is great for ‘oh I’ll just read one more…”). The book is full of bleak, dark humour and I really enjoyed that about Spontaneous. The characters are dealing with such a horrific event, but they power through to try and save the rest of their class. I also loved that weaved in the story was the usual YA tropes like new relationships, friendship and finding yourself.  Spontaneous is a clever little book and one I think YA readers will really enjoy.

The book is told from the point of view of main protagonist Mara, who is rude, says exactly what she thinks and ultimately hilarious. I loved seeing the story unfold from her perspective – how her friendship with Tess and relationship with Dylan in particular are fascinating to watch and excellently plotted. If you’re looking for a fun and quick YA read – and one on a topic you’ve probably never read anything about (I mean how many YA books are there about spontaneous combustion really?) then Spontaneous should definitely be your next read.


Book Review: Behind the Lie – Amanda James


Release Date: 21st April 2017
Publisher: HQ Digital
Pages: 208
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: I won a copy of this book on Twitter.

Synopsis:

Who can you trust, when you can’t trust yourself?

Holly West has turned her life around. She’s found a successful and loving husband in Simon and is expecting twins. She is definitely a woman who has taken back control of her future.

Until she gives birth, only for one twin to survive. Holly can’t let it go.

Holly’s world is in a tailspin and suddenly she can’t trust herself or anyone else. No one believes her, not her husband or her best friend. Because she thinks she knows the truth…her son is still alive and she won’t stop until she finds him.

Review:

When I read the synopsis for this I thought it sounded like a really great read, but unfortunately it just wasn’t for me. I thought the plot was a really fantastic premise. If your child had been taken and you couldn’t prove it who do you trust? How do you get someone to believe you when you aren’t even sure yourself? I found parts of the plot a little unrealistic, but overall it was an exciting plot that was well paced.

One of the things about this book was that I guessed the ending almost immediately. This put me off a little bit, as I was pretty much just waiting for a reveal I already knew was coming. I thought the book was written well, but I didn’t enjoy the story as much when I knew exactly what was going to happen. The one other thing that kind of put me off this book was that most of the characters are really unlikeable. I didn’t like Holly at all, or connect with her in any way. Her husband is horrible and  the on again off again boyfriend Jowan didn’t click for me either. I did really like the settings, and the comparison between beautiful freeing Cornwall – where Holly wants to be, and foggy and restrictive London where she has to be.

I think this book definitely has lots of potential, and I know a lot of psychological thriller fans will absolutely adore this. I don’t want to say too much about the story line because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone , but the plot is well devised and there are a few twists along the way that I’m sure plenty of people will enjoy. Overall however, this one just wasn’t for me.


Book Review: One of the Boys – Daniel Magariel


Release Date: 6th April 2017
Publisher: Granta Books
Pages: 160
Find it on: Amazon. Goodreads.
Source: Granta kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis:

The three of them—a twelve-year-old boy, his older brother, their father—have won the war: the father’s term for his bitter divorce and custody battle. They leave their Kansas home and drive through the night to Albuquerque, eager to begin again, united by the thrilling possibility of carving out a new life together. The boys go to school, join basketball teams, make friends. Meanwhile their father works from home, smoking cheap cigars to hide another smell. But soon the little missteps—the dead-eyed absentmindedness, the late night noises, the comings and goings of increasingly odd characters—become sinister, and the boys find themselves watching their father change, grow erratic, then violent.

Review:

This was a really fascinating book that stayed with me long after I’d finished reading it. The book follows the lives of two young brothers as they move to a new town and a new life with their father. This book really doesn’t hold anything back, and shines a light into the deepest parts of this dysfunctional family dynamic. One of the Boys is quite a short read, it’s only around 160 pages, and yet there is so much contained within those pages.

One of the Boys is a wonderfully written book, and the characters are what truly brings the book alive. You definitely get attached, feeling a whole range of things – at times I felt anger, at others pity and sadness. It is a heartbreaking story, and one you aren’t likely to forget. Told from the perspective of the youngest son (the characters are not named), the book is a fast paced and hard hitting read. I read One of the Boys in one afternoon and I think that made the story even more intense, as the tension continued to build and build. If you’re planning to read this one, definitely set aside some time to read it in one go.

This book is by no means an easy read – you question how a father can treat his children that way, and the bleak reality of this story, but nevertheless it is a fascinating read, and one that touches on so many subjects – drugs, abuse and relationships to name but a few. If you’re looking for a book you can read in a single sitting but will stay with you long after, One of the Boys is definitely the captivating book you’re looking for.