Book Review: What Lies Around Us – Andrew Crofts

Book Review: What Lies Around Us – Andrew Crofts

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Release Date:
13th June 2019
Publisher: Red Door Books
Pages: 256
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.
Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Synopsis

It is possible that since this book’s publication you will have heard that I have died in ‘suspicious circumstances’. Obviously I hope that will not be the case, but I believe it is worth taking the risk in order to get this story out there.

Why would one of Silicon Valley’s most powerful billionaires offer a British ghostwriter a million dollars to write the autobiography of Hollywood’s biggest star?

Only once he is living and working among the world’s richest and most beautiful people does the ghost realise that there is way more than a publishing deal at stake.

The ghostwriter must face the dark underbelly of the tech industry. He must face corruption and manipulation, come to blows with people who will do anything to remain at the top of their game and uncover the dark truth behind what it really means to be an influencer . . .

What Lies Around Us takes the reader into a world of myth-makers and power-brokers and reveals who is really running the world. Who is telling the stories and controlling the way we all think with a mixture of old media, social media and fake media?

Review

Copy of book cover (1)I read and loved The Secret of the Italian Gardner by Andrew Crofts a while ago, so when I was contacted about What Lies Around Us I jumped at the chance to read it. If it’s possible this book was even more gripping and addictive and I could not put it down.

Andrew is a British ghostwriter and is contacted out of the blue by Roger, a Silicon Valley tech giant about ghost writing a new book. The book isn’t about him, but about a leading actress of blockbuster films and reality television. So why is Roger so interested in getting this book published? He’s willing to pay a million dollars for Andrew to write it, but he’s very specific about what he wants. As Andrew gets to know his subject a devastating set of events occur and Andrew begins to wonder is it mere coincidence that he was writing the book – or has somebody planned this?

This might be a small book but it really packed a punch! There were so many mysteries going on and I just had no idea how it was going to end. When I turned the last few pages I was so surprised. The plot is brilliantly executed and definitely kept me guessing.

The characters are really fascinating and Andrew really gives you the opportunity to get to know them – Roger the seemingly nice business man with ruthless ambition, Jo-Jo the beautiful actress with her perfect husband and family. As the story goes deeper the curtain is peeled back to see there’s so much more going on underneath.

I loved the gorgeous setting of the story – it really came to life in this book. I also really liked the writing style and found myself wanting to read more and more just to find out how it was going to end. I ended up reading the book in two sittings because I just couldn’t get enough. The story focuses on a whole range of themes but is most notably about power and ambition, and just what you’ll do to get it. The story also broaches the subject of social media and the influence it has on the world – I found this aspect really interesting and overall thought it was a thoroughly engaging read.

If you’re looking for an exciting, fast read, What Lies Around Us is a must read. It’s an engaging, thought provoking thriller and I’m so looking forward to reading more books from Andrew Crofts.
4 stars

Book Review: Two Can Keep A Secret – Karen M. McManus

Book Review: Two Can Keep A Secret – Karen M. McManus

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Release Date:
January 10th 2019
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 336
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this in Sainsbury’s
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.

Review

book cover - 2019-03-17T113630.477I really enjoyed Karen M McManus’s debut novel – One of Us Is Lying, so I was excited to give her new book a shot. The story follows twins Ezra and Ellery who are sent to live with their grandmother whilst their mother is in rehab. The small little town is famous for the murder/disappearance of two Homecoming Queens – one of which is the twin’s aunt. Whilst getting acquainted with the town strange things start happening and the mysterious killer claims to have returned – but will Ellery be able to uncover the truth about her aunt’s disappearance?

Two Can Keep A Secret is the sort of book you take on a plane ride or pick up on a quiet afternoon to while away a few hours. You start off reading a few pages and it immediately sucks you in – hours later you’re still sitting there, desperate to know how it’s going to end. That was definitely my experience of reading this book. It’s a twisty, turny read and definitely lots of fun.

I really liked the setting in this story, the creepy little town filled with secrets really gave me Riverdale kind of vibes and I loved that the twins take jobs in an odd, creepy theme park. The characters are interesting ones too although at times I did feel like they could be more fleshed out. The story gives us alternating points of view between Ellery and Malcolm, a local boy who ends up involved in the mystery. Both characters give interesting perspectives and I liked seeing things from different points of view, particularly as the intensity heightening and the mystery was revealed.

The story is a multi-layered one and there are quite a lot of themes and ideas within the novel, covering topics like family, friendship, understanding yourself and lots more in between. It’s an engaging story that’s executed well. I enjoyed the overall story and definitely felt surprised at some of the shock twists. One or two of the twists were a little predictable but even though I knew what was coming, I still enjoyed the way it was revealed and tied into the rest of the story.

If you’re looking for a fast paced and engaging read, Two Can Keep a Secret should definitely be on your list. If you’ve read One of Us Is Lying, I’d absolutely recommend picking this up because this will definitely be a new favourite in the YA-thriller world.
4 stars

Book Review: Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman

Book Review: Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman

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Release Date:
April 4th 2019
Publisher: Ink Road
Pages: 375
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this at NYALitFest
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

Rumi Seto spends a lot of time worrying she doesn’t have the answers to everything. What to eat, where to go, whom to love. But there is one thing she is absolutely sure of—she wants to spend the rest of her life writing music with her younger sister, Lea.

Then Lea dies in a car accident, and her mother sends her away to live with her aunt in Hawaii while she deals with her own grief. Now thousands of miles from home, Rumi struggles to navigate the loss of her sister, being abandoned by her mother, and the absence of music in her life. With the help of the “boys next door”—a teenage surfer named Kai, who smiles too much and doesn’t take anything seriously, and an eighty-year-old named George Watanabe, who succumbed to his own grief years ago—Rumi attempts to find her way back to her music, to write the song she and Lea never had the chance to finish.

Review

book cover - 2019-04-03T110806.863Last year I read Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman and completely fell in love with the characters and the beautifully written tale. When I heard Summer Bird Blue was going to be published in the UK I snapped up a copy straight away. The story follows Rumi, a young girl who loses her sister in a car crash. Her mother, consumed with grief sends her to live with her aunt in Hawaii over the summer and there Rumi has to learn to cope with her grief and find the music that was so important to her and her sister.

This is such a unique, beautifully told story about family, friendship and grief. The story very much focuses in on Rumi as she tries to figure out how to live her life without her sister. It was well executed and I enjoyed seeing Rumi make friends with next door neighbour Kai and find a way back to the music that she loves so much.

Starfish was a five star read for me and part of the reason for that was the realistic characters. The characters in Summer Bird Blue are very realistic and well fleshed out, but I didn’t connect with them in the same way I did with Starfish. I really enjoyed the story, but it didn’t take my breath away like the previous book.

The story is incredibly emotional and I love the beautiful Hawaiian setting. I also loved that Bowman could so easily have introduced a romance between Rumi and Kai and instead have them remain friends. The story touches on a lot of incredibly important issues – not just grief but finding yourself, relationships and what it means to be a family. It isn’t a particularly light book, the story is quite a heavy one, but it’s executed extremely well.

While I really enjoyed it this book just didn’t blow me away, but I know Akemi Dawn Bowman fans will be overjoyed to read another gorgeous book from her. If you’re looking for a story that will keep you turning the pages but will also give you a lump in your throat, you should definitely pick up Summer Bird Blue.

3 stars

Book Review: Limited Wish – Mark Lawrence

Book Review: Limited Wish – Mark Lawrence

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Series:
Impossible Times #2
Release Date: May 28th 2019
Publisher: 47 North
Pages: 222
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The author kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

One choice. Two possible timelines. And a world hanging in the balance.

It’s the summer of 1986 and reluctant prodigy Nick Hayes is a student at Cambridge University, working with world-renowned mathematician Professor Halligan. He just wants to be a regular student, but regular isn’t really an option for a boy-genius cancer survivor who’s already dabbled in time travel.

When he crosses paths with a mysterious yet curiously familiar girl, Nick discovers that creases have appeared in the fabric of time, and that he is at the centre of the disruption. Only Nick can resolve this time paradox before the damage becomes catastrophic for both him and the future of the world. Time is running out—literally.

Wrapped up with him in this potentially apocalyptic scenario are his ex-girlfriend, Mia, and fellow student Helen. Facing the world-ending chaos of a split in time, Nick must act fast and make the choice of a lifetime—or lifetimes.

Game on.

Review

41771517Limited Wish is the second instalment in the Impossible Times series. The first – One Word Kill was a completely addictive story and I couldn’t put it down. I was so excited to get my hands on a copy of Limited Wish and I picked it up straight away. After just a few pages I was completely sucked in again and this time the stakes are even higher.

Limited Wish picks up not long after the events of One Word Kill and drops us right into the action of Nick at Cambridge University. The story follows Nick as he attempts to figure out what’s causing the time echoes that are happening around him, and solve the problem of a paradox. The story is full to the brim with action, adventure and excitement.

Mark Lawrence has yet to write a book I haven’t completely loved and Limited Wish is definitely one of my favourites. I loved returning to the characters we met in the first book – Nick and his gang as they attempt to stop the bad guys, both in real life and in Dungeons and Dragons. There’s all brilliant characters but I particularly love Simon and Mia. It’s fascinating to see the characters grow, particularly after the events of the first book in the series.

The story is full of science, time travel and mathematics. It’s incredibly well plotted and feels realistic whilst also featuring future selves, time travel and a whizz kid mathematician. I loved the mix of science fiction with teenagers just trying to make it through a party and talk to girls. It was such an enjoyable read and I definitely didn’t want it to end.

Limited Wish is full of heart and you’ll definitely grow attached to the wonderful characters. The fast paced plot also kept me guessing and there were quite a few twists that I definitely wasn’t expecting. This is absolutely a new favourite and if you haven’t had the chance to pick the series up yet, now is the perfect time. Book three in the series Dispel Illusion is coming in November so you’ll definitely want to be all caught up by then – this series is one you don’t want to miss.
5 stars

Book Review: Release – Patrick Ness

Book Review: Release – Patrick Ness

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Release Date:
May 4th 2017
Publisher: Walker Books
Pages: 287
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this while on holiday
Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis

Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume’s Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, 17. It’s a big day. Things go wrong. It’s intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches…

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It’s a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won’t come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course.

Review

31194576A while ago I read A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and thought it was absolutely brilliant, so when I came across Release on the shelf in my local bookshop I was really intrigued and immediately snapped it up. The story follows Adam Thorn, a young high school student over the course of a single day as he prepares to attend the leaving party of the ex-boyfriend he still has feelings for. Enzo’s leaving party is not the only thing happening, unbeknownst to the party goers, the end of the world is near.

I’m honestly so conflicted about this book. I really liked the characters in this story – Adam is a really fascinating protagonist and it was a really interesting story as Adam deals with his religious family, harassment at work and tries to work through his feeling for Enzo. I grew quite attached to Adam and his friends and I definitely found myself rooting for them. They were well fleshed out and they felt very realistic.

Adam’s story is not the only part of the book and that’s where my problems with this book lie. A young woman who was murdered in the same area returns as a ghost/queen with a faun helper to understand what happened to her and seek revenge on the people involved in her murder. This fantastical element for me didn’t fit the story at all and I found myself quite confused about what was going on with the ghost and what she was doing. It almost felt like I was reading two different stories at the same time, and this really had an effect on my overall enjoyment of the story.

Release is a strange and unique tale, one that combines a coming of age story with a hint of supernatural. Patrick Ness has some a really beautiful writing style and if you’re a fan of his work I’d recommend checking this one out. It’s quite a short read at less than 300 pages so if you’re looking for something that little bit different, I’d definitely give this one a go.

3 stars

Book Review: Sea Witch – Sarah Henning

Book Review: Sea Witch – Sarah Henning

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Series:
Sea Witch #1
Release Date: July 21st 2018
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Pages: 368
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I was given this book for Christmas.
Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis

Everyone knows what happens in the end. A mermaid, a prince, a true love’s kiss. But before that young siren’s tale, there were three friends. One feared, one royal, and one already dead.

Ever since her best friend, Anna, drowned, Evie has been an outcast in her small fishing town. A freak. A curse. A witch.

A girl with an uncanny resemblance to Anna appears offshore and, though the girl denies it, Evie is convinced that her best friend actually survived. That her own magic wasn’t so powerless after all. And, as the two girls catch the eyes—and hearts—of two charming princes, Evie believes that she might finally have a chance at her own happily ever after.

But her new friend has secrets of her own. She can’t stay in Havnestad, or on two legs, unless Evie finds a way to help her. Now Evie will do anything to save her friend’s humanity, along with her prince’s heart—harnessing the power of her magic, her ocean, and her love until she discovers, too late, the truth of her bargain.

Review

36502054 (1)Sea Witch is the first in a new fantasy series which reimagines the story of The Little Mermaid – but from the perspective of the sea witch. This first instalment is a dark and exciting story, and one that will definitely leave you hungry for more.

Sea Witch follows Evie, the daughter of a Fisherman and her best friend Prince Nik. The two are still reeling from the drowning of their friend Anna several years previously, so when Evie discovers a young woman who looks exactly like Anna, she immediately agrees to help her – but who is this mysterious girl and why does she look so much like the friend that drowned all those years ago?

This story was completely different to what I was expecting. It’s a clever tale that brings a really fresh perspective to a story that has been reimagined so many times before. It’s got plenty of twists and turns and the story is well paced – really allowing you to get to know the characters and the world.

I really enjoyed the setting in this story, the seaside Kingdom, beautiful scenery and twisting waves were all really brought to life in the story. I liked the characters too – they were well fleshed out and I thought Evie made an excellent protagonist. There were some plot points that I felt were a little predictable but I still enjoyed the overall execution of the story. The story jumps in time with each chapter containing a scene relating to the past and the friendship between Anna, Evie and Nik. I really liked this as it gave the reader the opportunity to get to know the characters and see how Evie and Nik cope with the loss of their friend.

The one negative I have about this book is the romance aspect. There are several romances taking place throughout the course of the story and I did feel that there wasn’t all that much to them. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone so I won’t name characters but the romances felt a bit forced, meaning I had less of an interest in the characters getting together. Despite this I still enjoyed the overall conclusion, and thought the ending was particularly well done.

Sea Witch is a really dark and fascinating tale, and if you’re a fan of retellings, you’re definitely going to want to try this one. There’s a second book coming in August, so you won’t have too long to wait to find out what’s in store next.
4 stars

Book Review: Daisy Jones and the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid

Book Review: Daisy Jones and the Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Release Date:
March 7th 2019
Publisher: Hutchinson
Pages: 368
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: I bought a copy of this in Sainsburys
Rating: 5/5 stars

Synopsis

For a while, Daisy Jones & The Six were everywhere. Their albums were on every turntable, they sold out arenas from coast to coast, their sound defined an era. And then, on 12 July 1979, they split. Nobody ever knew why. Until now. They were lovers and friends and brothers and rivals. They couldn’t believe their luck, until it ran out. This is their story of the early days and the wild nights, but everyone remembers the truth differently. The only thing they all know for sure is that from the moment Daisy Jones walked barefoot onstage at the Whisky, their lives were irrevocably changed. Making music is never just about the music. And sometimes it can be hard to tell where the sound stops and the feelings begin.

Review

40554141Daisy Jones and the Six tells the tale of world famous Daisy Jones and the Six, a rock band that took the world by storm in the 60s. After a hit record and sell out shows – the band suddenly disbanded and no one knows why. Now years later, the band recount the tale of what led to them breaking up.

Now I’m going to point out straight away that this is completely not the kind of book I would normally read. The majority of the books I read are Science Fiction and Fantasy, so this is completely outside of my comfort zone. I picked this up because of all the hype for this and another of Reid’s novels – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo – and thought it might be quite an interesting read. What I didn’t expect was to be absolutely blown away by this book, and have it be one of my new all-time favourites.

Daisy Jones and the Six is told in a really fascinating way, the book unfolds as a series of interviews – with the band recounting their time recording music and touring. The story is exclusively dialogue, there’s not really anything in the way of scenery descriptions or anything of that nature. Despite that the story completely came alive for me and I felt like Daisy and the band were real people – in fact by the time I was finished I wanted to google the band to learn more about them. The story really makes you feel like these people were real, and brings to life the sights and sounds of life in the 60s.

Daisy Jones and the Six holds nothing back and there’s plenty of drink, drugs and the difficulty of dealing with fame. It’s a fascinating tale and you get the sense early on that it’s going to end badly, yet you absolutely cannot look away.

The story is emotional and heart breaking in the best possible way and I honestly struggled not to bawl my eyes out at it on the way home from work. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like Daisy Jones and the Six, and it’s definitely a book I keep thinking about despite finishing it a while ago.

I’m so glad I took the jump and tried something out of my comfort zone, because this is absolutely a new favourite. I’m incredibly keen to try more from this author and if you’ve seen the buzz around Daisy Jones and thought that the book isn’t your cup of tea I’d definitely suggest giving it a go – you might just find a new favourite.

5 stars