Book Review: What If It’s Us – Becky Albertalli and Adam Silveria

Book Review: What If It’s Us – Becky Albertalli and Adam Silveria

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Release Date:
18th October 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Pages: 433
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

Review

Arthur and Ben are officially my new favourite couple. This is my first time reading a book by either of these YA superstars but honestly I was so engrossed in this adorable story. I’m now dying to pick up more from these authors because I honestly can’t get enough.

The story is told in alternating POVs by Arthur, who is interning at a New York law firm over the summer and Ben a New York native. The boys have an adorable meet cute in a post office but don’t exchange numbers. After getting reunited they go on a few dates but things don’t really go to plan and they begin to wonder “what if it’s us” that’s causing the problem.

This story is such a fun and enjoyable read. I raced through it because I found these characters so sweet and complex. Both authors have done a terrific job bringing the characters to life, I imagine if you know both authors well you can tell who has written which POV but for me the transition between the two felt pretty seamless.

What If It’s Us is set in the heart of New York City and I think this book does a really terrific job of bringing the city to life. Chalk full of pop culture references and all those key New York landmarks. This book definitely had me laughing and grinning and there were plenty of heart warming and emotional moments too.

The story focuses not only on the relationship between Ben and Arthur but also their relationships between the characters and their families and friends. Ben is dealing with losing part of his friendship group after a bad breakup and Arthur finds his friends being distant with him. I really liked seeing how the friendships changed and grew as the story went on.

I also thought the ending for this book was pretty perfect. It totally wasn’t what I expected and I appreciated it all the more for that. It felt realistic and really added another layer to this well crafted story. What If It’s Us is the perfect contemporary romance and if you’re a fan of Adam and Becky you will not be disappointed.
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Strangeathon TBR!

Strangeathon TBR!

The Bibliophile Chronicles (8)
October seems to be the month for Readathons! As the Magical Readthon finishes on the 13th of October I thought I could dive straight into another one. I really wanted to do a Halloween one because I have so many spooky books I want to read. I found the Strangeathon on Twitter, a readathon hosted by Rachel Verna.

This readathon runs from 13-31st Oct, and has 14 prompts. I thought this would be a great chance to get quite a few books off my TBR and I’m also on holiday for 10 days which means I’ll hopefully get through quite a few challenges. I doubt I’ll manage all 14 but it was really fun to pick books for the prompts. I tried to be tactical about my choices and pick shorter books/ones I’m really dying to read – so let’s dive in!

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1. Deathly Time: Read a book where death plays a big part. 
Originally for this I had planned to go with Scythe by Neal Schusterman, but I recently got sent a copy of The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke and I am desperate to read it. The main characters are death traders so I thought that suited this challenge pretty well!

2. Thriller Killer: Read a thrilling book. 36355177
I recently went to an event at Bloody Scotland with Thriller/Horror writers and one of them was C. J. Tudor. She talked about her book The Chalk Man and it sounded so dark and thrilling I had to pick it up. It sounds amazing and I think it’s going to be a perfect fast paced read for the readathon.

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3. Halloween Icon: Read a book with something iconic to Halloween on the cover.
For this I’m reading Strange Ink by Gary Kemble. It has a nice creepy skull with a rose on the cover and it sounds so good. I’m also on the blog tour for this one so stay tuned for that!

300954644. The Stella Special: Read a book with a part of a skeleton on the cover.
I could have doubled up and read Strange Ink for both challenges but for this I went with The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco. I bought a copy of this at YALC and I have been dying to read it ever since. I also have The Heart Forger so if I love it I might switch something out to read the sequel.
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5. Summer Slasher: Read a book set at summer.
For this I went with My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix. It sounds like the perfect summer slasher type book and I’m so excited to read this one!

382553426. Horror Monster: Read a book with a creature that is often the villain.
For this I’m reading The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kirsten White. I still haven’t read And I Darken yet but I also have this in my back up spooky reads pile so perhaps I’ll get to them both this month. This book obviously features Frankenstein’s monster which I thought was a perfect choice for a horror villain.

39098246 (2)7. Gives Chills: Read a book about something that freaks you out.
Now I’ve cheated slightly with this one. The subject matter for this book doesn’t necessarily freak me out but Laura Purcell’s writing does. Her first book The Silent Companions is terrifying. I read it a year ago and honestly I still think about it. If The Corset is anything like that, I’m definitely going to be freaked out.

457938. Tales From the Grave: Read a short story collection. 
I don’t have an awful lot of short story collections so for this I’m going with The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe. It’s quite short and only features a few short murder mysteries so I should get through this one pretty quickly!

369596399. Setting Fun: Read a book with a spooky location.
For this I’m reading Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. This will probably be the first one I read because I’m excited to see the difference between this and her adult fantasy writing. This middle grade is set on a creepy old farm so I think that works really well.

3638582810. Blood Red: Read a book with a red or orange cover.
For this I thought I would go with Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager which honestly I can’t believe I haven’t read yet. It has a suitably dark and orangey cover so I’m hoping this one lives up to the hype.

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11. Darkness Within: Read a book in the dark or in darker conditions than usual.
For this challenge I figured I could pick anything so I’ve gone with Sawkill Girls. I’ve got my candles at the ready to read this spooky and atmospheric book.

3909339412. Striking Words: Read a book based solely on the title.
I honestly bought The Price Guide to the Occult because it had such an interesting title so I think it’s going to work pretty well. It’s also quite short so hopefully it helps me fulfil this challenge!

2818723013. Lucky Number: Read a book with 13 chapters or 13 in the title.
So this one I am also cheating. I looked through all the books on my TBR and none of them have thirteen chapters and the only book I could find with 13 in the title was The Thirteenth Tale and it isn’t particularly a spooky book. So I decided for this to read The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware – it was 10 on the cover and that’s pretty close right?

3596081414. The F-Up: Read a book that doesn’t fit any of the challenges.
For this I tried to go with something as far from spooky as possible so I’ve gone with The Accidental Bad Girl. I didn’t manage to get to this during Contemporary-AThon so I thought this would be the perfect time and a way to lighten up the scary reads!

So that’s my slightly insane TBR for Strangeathon. Honestly if I manage to read half of them I will be impressed with myself but I’m excited to try. Are you participating in any Halloween readathons? If you are what are you reading? Also if anyone has read any of these and can tell me which ones to pick up first or if I should avoid any let me know!

 

 

Book Review: Ravencry – Ed McDonald

Book Review: Ravencry – Ed McDonald

Book Review (30)
Series: Raven’s Mark #2
Release Date: June 28th 2018
Publisher: Gollancz
Pages: 432
Find It On: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of the book to review.

Synopsis

Four years have passed since Nall’s Engine drove the Deep Kings back across the Misery, but as they hurl fire from the sky, darker forces plots against the republic.

A new power is rising: a ghost in the light known only as the Bright Lady manifests in visions across the city, and the cult that worship her grasp for power even as the city burns around them.

When Crowfoot’s arcane vault is breached, an object of terrible power is stolen, and Galharrow and his Blackwings must once find out which of Valengrad’s enemies is responsible before they have a chance to use it.

To save Valengrad, Galharrow, Nenn and Tnota must venture to a darker, more twisted and more dangerous place than any they’ve walked before: the very heart of the Misery.

Review

 This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018. If you saw my top picks of 2018 or indeed my rather rambling review of Blackwing (see it here), you’ll know I absolutely adored the first book in this series. After just a few pages I was completely hooked back into this series and if it’s possible, I loved Ravencry even more than Blackwing.

Ravencry picks up four years after the events of Blackwing. The book also contains a ‘previously on’ which I really appreciated to help remind me of exactly where all the characters were. The story is action packed as Galharrow and his rag tag band discover that someone has broken into Crowfoot’s vault, stealing something that the gang desperately need to get back.

The book features some of the characters that I loved from the first book (particularly Nenn), as well as some fascinating new characters. I particularly liked the new additions of Amaira and Vailya. Ed McDonald does an excellent job creating these complex characters that you can’t get enough of. One of the things I love about this series is that there isn’t always a clear right or wrong answer, McDonald weaves a multi-layered story that I definitely couldn’t put down. It’s full of action yes, but also humour, emotion and friendship. Ravencry deserves all the stars and is without a doubt one of my favourite books of 2018.

Much like Blackwing the book is gory, full of the sights, sounds and smells of battle and living in a grimy city. This brings the setting to life and draws the reader in. Ravencry is unputdownable, and the best kind of page turner. If you read Blackwing and loved it, you’re in for a real treat with book two. This fantasy series is never predictable will keep you wanting more, your only problem will be waiting for book number three.
5 stars

Waiting on Wednesday #4: King of Scars – Leigh Bardugo

Waiting on Wednesday #4: King of Scars – Leigh Bardugo

Book Review (28)
Welcome to another Waiting on Wednesday. This week I am moaning about how desperate I am to get my hands on a copy of King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo!

Synopsis

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

Thoughts

I am so so excited for this book. Apart from the Darkling, Nikolai is definitely my favourite character from the Grisha trilogy and after recently rereading the first two books and finally reading Ruin and Rising, I am here for this Nikolai Lantsov duology. I got a chapter sampler for this at YALC and it only made me more excited to read it. I’m excited that Zoya is going to be in the story too, because I think she’s a fantastic character. The cover is also gorgeous and I can’t wait to have a beautiful shiny copy to put on the shelf next to the others. King of Scars is released January 29th 2019 from Orion Books.

Book Review: Jinxed – Amy McCulloch

Book Review: Jinxed – Amy McCulloch

Book Review (29)
Series:
Jinxed #1
Release Date: 9th August 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 323
Find it on: Goodreads. BookDepository. Waterstones.
Source: The publisher kindly sent me a copy of this book to review.

Synopsis

Lacey Chu has big dreams of becoming a companioneer for MONCHA, the largest tech firm in North America and the company behind the  “baku” – a customisable smart pet that functions as a phone but makes the perfect companion too. When Lacey finds out she hasn’t been accepted into Profectus – the elite academy for cutting edge tech – it seems her dreams are over. Worst of all, rather than getting to choose one of the advanced bakus, she’s stuck with a rubbish insect one.

Then, one night, Lacey comes across the remains of an advanced baku. Once it might’ve been in the shape of a cat but it’s now mangled and broken, no sign of electronic life behind its eyes. Days of work later and the baku opens its eyes. Lacey calls him Jinx – and Jinx opens up a world for her that she never even knew existed, including entry to the hallowed halls of Profecus. Slowly but surely, Jinx becomes more than just a baku to Lacey – he becomes her perfect companion. But what is Jinx, really? His abilities far surpass anything written into his code or built into his motherboard. He seems to be more than just a robotic pet. He seems … real.

Review

When I picked up Jinxed I had expected to really enjoy this book. What I didn’t expect was for this book to completely blow me away, and be one of my favourites of 2018. Amy McCulloch has written a wonderful gripping story, and I absolutely could not put it down.

There were so many things I loved about this book. Lacey Chu is a fantastic protagonist. She’s strong, determined, she works hard and all she wants is to succeed in reaching her dream job at Moncha. I really loved her character, seeing her develop as she ends up at Profectus, bonds with Jinx and meets new people at this prestigious school. There’s an intense amount of character development, and it really made me fall in love with Lacey.

The story is fast-paced and gripping and has definitely left me wanting more. I thought the concept was so fascinating – curing the world’s addiction to smartphones by having a companion with all your smartphone needs built right in. But as always there’s that question – how far is to far? What happens when the robotic pet starts to seem real?

It was such an addictive read and I loved so many things about it, the science and technology, the romance that was a slow burn and didn’t take over from the main story as well as the buzz of the school and its secret goings-on. This book is entertaining and fun and I guarantee you will love it. This has been my first time reading a book by Amy McCulloch (Amy Alward) and it definitely won’t be my last.
5 stars

Blog Tour: A Remedy For All Things – Jan Fortune

Blog Tour: A Remedy For All Things – Jan Fortune

Book Review (27)

Synopsis

In the dream she is not herself.

Belief is Catherine’s gift, or it was once, growing up in the shadow of an extraordinary friendship amongst a cacophony of voices trying to tell her who to be. Now, in her thirties, Catherine knows what she has lost and what she has survived. Her professional life is on course and she has a new relationship with Simon, a writer who shares her imaginative and creative worlds. But when Catherine arrives in Budapest in winter 1993 to begin researching a novel based on the poet, Attila József, she starts dreaming the life of a young woman imprisoned after the 1956 Uprising. More disconcertingly, by day this woman, Selene Virág, is with her, dreaming Catherine’s life just as she dreams Selene’s. Obsessed with uncovering the facts, Catherine discovers that Selene was a real person who lived through the persecution of Jews in Hungary during WW2, but what is most disorienting is that Selene believed Attila József to be the father of her daughter, Miriam, despite the fact that József committed suicide in December 1937, eighteen years before Miriam was born. How do the three lives of Catherine, Selene and Attila fit together?

Now take a look at our guest post from author Jan Fortune on what anchors our characters!

remedy front coverAs someone who works as an editor and runs a busy independent press, carving out time to write can be difficult. A trilogy of novels is a particularly ambitious undertaking when time is limited, but the Casilda trilogy has had hold of my subconscious for a long time and had to be written. Day to day, I write first thing every morning, but this tends to be ideas, journalling, notes, rather than actually writing the book I’m working on.

For that, I have to grab evenings and parts of weekends, but to write well I’m someone who needs big stretches of time. So, whilst the evening and weekend writing is fine for first drafts and later editing, to get into flow I generally go away from home. I work from home so this shift in environment seems to signal to my brain that this is time for deep work and creativity.

A Remedy for All Things was largely written in Budapest, where it’s based, and, in addition to providing local detail and texture, moving place altered my perspective of the novel I was writing. I’ve found that having the space to go into that wonderful trance state, that only long blocks of writing provide, was essential to putting together a trilogy.

Of course, any novel with a complex timeline demands lots of work on continuity and threading its themes. Doing this across three novels has been a fascinating challenge and I discovered early on that one of the most powerful techniques for keeping the continuity tight was not only time away to write, but also using physical objects that related to character development. The objects that appear and re-appear across the trilogy are like threads on which the story is woven.

So several objects assumed importance in communicating themes through the novels and particularly in A Remedy for All Things, which acts as the bridge around which the whole trilogy hangs.

My protagonist, Catherine wears a pendant that first appears in This is the End of the this_is_the_end-300x300Story. She finds it beside her bed, during a trip to Toledo to search for traces of the 11th century Muslim-princess-turned-saint, Casilda — she dreams that her friend, Miriam, is with her and wakes to find a tiny hamsa, a hand of Miriam symbol.

The necklace becomes not only Catherine’s link back to Miriam but to Selene, another main character, who is imprisoned at the end of the 1950s after the Hungarian Uprising and whose life Catherine begins to dream when she visits Budapest in the early 90s.

Objects ground us. People often use objects as parts of how they identify themselves and how they want others to perceive them. Objects also hold memories.

There’s an antique pen in A Remedy for All Things, which Catherine gives to Simon after a visit to the artists’ colony at Szentendre. It will re-appear in the

third book in the trilogy, For Hope is Always Born. It’s personal, says something about the user, adds texture and depth to the narrative, shows the reader some vital detail without telling her what to think or see …

Similarly, there’s a sketchbook given to Catherine in Paris that once belonged to Selene’s father. It becomes not only a symbol of a better way of life that Selene and her family (and so many Jewish families lost in the years before, during and after WWII) but also a motif for the future.

Objects don’t always have to be momentous to add richness to a novel. Some of them are simply everyday artefacts that nonetheless communicate something of a person or a period. I was keenly aware of this when I visited the Attila József Museum. In A Remedy for All Things, Catherine is in Budapest researching her own book, a fictionalised account of the life of Attila József, so I wanted to know more about the poet who committed suicide in 1937.

Not only were examples of his hand-writing on display, but other personal objects. The retractable pencil he wrote with; a facsimile of a rocking horse that was his only toy as a young child and which he gave to his mother for firewood when they had none. And a small change purse. The purse subsequently went into a scene when the Attila of my novel first meets Selene, adding a detail that is unobtrusive but hopefully one of the many details that build into an authentic image of the character.

Catherine traces Attila’s surviving relatives and is shown a book he once owned, by my fictionalised version of Zsuzsanna Makai, Attila József’s niece. There’s something very strange about this book. It looks like an ordinary copy of Carson McCullers’ The Ballad of the Sad Café, yet on this object the plot might turn. To find out how I hope you’ll read the book …

The Remedy For All Things is available now from Cinnamon Press! Thank you so much to Jan for writing this piece and you can find lots more about her books over at https://janfortune.com/

Magical Readathon Charms Extra Credit TBR

Magical Readathon Charms Extra Credit TBR

The Bibliophile Chronicles (7)The Magical Readathon: Charms Extra Credit is a readthon that was created by BookRoast over on Youtube. This readathon is Harry Potter related and allows you to sit exams based on the classes at Hogwarts. I didn’t manage to participate in them this year, but they’re running again in 2019 so I thought starting off with this extra credit was the perfect way to start. Doing the extra credit now will give me a head start for the OWLs when they come around next year. I really enjoy participating in readthons, and challenging myself. This readthon is running 8-13th of October and has five challenges. I don’t know if I’ll manage to read them all but they’re all books I’ve been dying to read so I’m hoping that makes a difference!

Spell #1: Alohamora – read a book that’s first in a series.39726818
For this I’ve decided to go with Mirage by Somaiya Daud. This is the first in a new science fiction fantasy series, featuring a young slave girl who is used as the body double for a princess in case she is assassinated. I bought a copy of this recently and have been dying to pick it up. I’m hoping it will be an exciting and intense read!

36682619Spell #2: Accio – read a book that’s top of your TBR.
I deliberated on this one for ages because there are so many books on my TBR that I am desperate to read. I eventually decided on Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller. I read the first book in the series earlier in the year and absolutely loved it. It was such a fun and quick read. I got a beautiful hardback copy of this for my birthday so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to pick it up.

Spell #3: Incendio – a book with the words ‘fire’ or ‘flame’ in the title/series name, or a flame picture on the cover.38204046 (2)
For this I’ve gone with The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden. It’s quite a big book but I have been dying to read it for so long and it has flames on the cover, making it the perfect excuse to read the conclusion to what is one of my favourite trilogies ever.

35297394Spell #4: Rictusempra – book that ‘tickles you the right way’ (exciting trope/theme/genre)
One of my favourite themes in books is witches. October is the perfect time of year for witchy books and I have so many of them to read this Halloween. With that in mind I decided for this challenge to go for The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw. This was another book I got for my birthday and I have been hoping to pick up ASAP.

Spell #5: Lumos – book with a light cover.34931507
It took me ages to find a book on my shelves with a white cover. I narrowed it down to a few but most didn’t fit the kind of book I was looking for for a readathon (literary fiction/non-fiction), but I finally found One Of Us Is Lying by Karen MacManus and I thought this would go so well. It has a white cover and is a perfect twisty turny thriller for the readathon.

So there we have my Magical Readathon Charms Extra Credit TBR. Are you participating in the readthon? If you are what are you reading? and if you’ve read any of these let me know what you thought of them!