Monday, 22 May 2017

Artie Conan Doyle and the Gravediggers' Club by Robert J. Harris

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 192
Publisher: Floris Books 
Released: 1st of June 2017 

One day Arthur Conan Doyle will create the greatest detective of all -- Sherlock Holmes. But right now Artie Conan Doyle is a twelve-year-old Edinburgh schoolboy with a mystery of his own to solve. While sneaking out to explore Greyfriars Kirkyard by night, Artie and his best friend Ham spot a ghostly lady in grey and discover the footprints of a gigantic hound. Could the two mysteries be connected? These strange clues lead them to a series of robberies carried out the sinister Gravediggers' Club and soon they find themselves pitted against the villainous Colonel Braxton Dash. Will Artie survive his encounters with graveyards and ghosts in the foggy streets of nineteenth century Edinburgh -- or will his first case be his last?

What I Have to Say 

This is perhaps my new favourite Middle-Grade mystery series! I was worried it would be overdone or written down too much, but I found it such a great read. Artie is a really great character based on a lot of research that the author has done on Arthur Conan Doyle and his life. I liked the fact that it wasn't all centred around Sherlock Holmes (though there were some great references) but also took into account Conan Doyle's interest in the afterlife as well. 

The mystery was very well written and also brought in components of two Sherlock Holmes stories, though not in a way that was too obvious. Harris built his own mystery around these two stories making a wonderfully original and thrilling mystery. I loved all the historical references as well and the Latin that was brought up from time to time. 

I think this is a great introduction to Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes for young readers who have never read the books, but also a really great series for readers who are already fans of the books and the man behind them, young and old. 

I really wasn't sure what this book would be like, but I'm so glad I requested it because it was a really great book. 

My thanks go to Floris Books and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 368
Publisher: Penguin
Released: 1st of June 2017 

Yale hopeful Bronwyn has never publicly broken a rule.

Sports star Cooper only knows what he's doing in the baseball diamond.

Bad body Nate is one misstep away from a life of crime.

Prom queen Addy is holding together the cracks in her perfect life.

And outsider Simon, creator of the notorious gossip app at Bayview High, won't ever talk about any of them again.

He dies 24 hours before he could post their deepest secrets online. Investigators conclude it's no accident. All of them are suspects.

Everyone has secrets, right?

What really matters is how far you'll go to protect them.

What I Have to Say 

A good mystery like this one was exactly what I needed right now. It had very real, believable characters who you couldn't help but like as piece by piece you got to know their real personality. I don't think there was actually one of the four that I didn't love completely by the end. The way it's written makes you feel like you know them at the start but then as they get caught up in being investigated for murder and their lives start to fall apart, it uncovers more about their personalities and you start to really know them as individuals rather than stereotypes. 

The mystery was compelling and beautifully written. I guessed the ending, but in a way that made me feel really clever rather than like it was predictable, because of the fantastic twist to the story. You've got to be able to guess the endings sometimes, or what's the point, right?   It was just perfect and exactly the answer that satisfied me immensely. 

Above all this is a story about secrets. There are so many secrets hidden in this book and it's all about what happens when they come out. I absolutely loved that idea and the way that everything changed as the plot progressed. 

This is definitely one of the most perfect contemporary mysteries I've read and I would recommend it to anyone. 

My thanks go to Penguin Random House and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Battlemage by Taran Matharu

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Hatchette Children's Group 
Released: 4th of May 2017 

After the thrilling cliffhanger at the end of book two, we rejoin Fletcher and his friends in the ether, where they must undertake a mortally dangerous quest, all the while avoiding capture by enemies and facing foes more terrifying than anything they have yet encountered.

But this is nothing compared to what truly lies ahead for Fletcher, as his nemesis, albino orc Khan, is on a mission to destroy Hominum and everything and everyone that Fletcher loves.

What I Have to Say 

Apparently this was the last in the series? I'm surprised by that as I think they left a lot of stuff open. I guess enough was concluded, so perhaps they'll be a sequel trilogy or just a potential for tie in series or novels later on. It would be nice to see something from the other characters. The Dwarven characters especially are really interesting or something more from Sylva. I think Fletcher doesn't have much more to give, but I'd like to know at least in passing about how he does and whether he and Ignatious reach their full potential. 

I was looking forward to this book because of what happened at the end of the last book and I have to say I'm a bit disappoint. I wanted to explore more of the world the demons come from and see more of the different types of demons. There was a bit of that and I understand that the characters were concerned more about their survival and getting back to Hominum as quickly as possible, but maybe in the future it would be cool to get a book about people who go and explore. 

I think this was a good trilogy in general really. There were a lot of battle scenes towards the end of this book, though. They went on a long time and the strategies that Fletcher and his army were using were interesting, but after a while it was just too much. I was done with battles and wanted it to end.

 Also, I think the only thing that really sets this apart from other fantasy series was the issues of race. The Dwarven issues and the way the people in power were trying to set them up and force them into rioting and give them an excuse to round them all up hit me quite strongly. Especially in these political times, it's important to see how racism can be stirred up and incited by a manipulative power, especially when there are terror attacks involved. 

It's interesting that this series has so much to say about race and I definitely think that it's a good reason to read these books. 

My thanks go to Hatchette Book Group and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Like Other Girls by Claire Hennessy

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 288
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 25th of May 2017 

Here's what Lauren knows: she's not like other girls. She also knows it's problematic to say that - what's wrong with girls? She's even fancied some in the past. But if you were stuck in St Agnes's, her posh all-girls school, you'd feel like that too. Here everyone's expected to be Perfect Young Ladies, it's even a song in the painfully awful musical they're putting on this year. And obviously said musical is directed by Lauren's arch nemesis.

Under it all though, Lauren's heart is bruised. Her boyfriend thinks she's crazy and her best friend's going through something Lauren can't understand... so when Lauren realises she's facing every teenage girl's worst nightmare, she has nowhere to turn. Maybe she should just give in to everything. Be like other girls. That's all so much easier ... right?

Trigger warnings: Transphobia, Sexual Harassment. Abortion 

What I Have to Say 

Claire Hennessy likes to take on important issues, as she comes at it from a way that walks on a knife edge between being problematic and really showing how the issues work. In Nothing Tastes as good, this worked quite well. It would be very triggering for someone reading with an eating disorder, but as a book written to show readers what it feels like to have a eating disorder, it did it really well. 

Like Other Girls though, I think goes across the line on some issues. The transphobia really put me off. It horrified me completely and made me dislike Lauren as a character. Considering the ending, I kind of understand what Hennessy was going for, especially as Lauren and Evan have a lot of their own issues which somewhat explained the transphobic comments that Lauren was making and how much she didn't understand what Evan was going through. But I'm not sure it really made it any better. I don't think it was really addressed enough. 

The main plotline was obviously very important and I found it very emotional and interesting. It gave me the connection to Lauren as a character that I hadn't managed to find due to her transphobia, If the book had just been this storyline and there hadn't been the transphobic plotline then I think I really could have enjoyed it. 

I think this is an important book, especially being set in Ireland, but Hennessy just stepped over the line with what she was trying to show with the transphobia. I think it's good that she tried but it just didn't turn out well. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Hot Key Books for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Girlhood by Cat Clarke

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 342
Publisher: Quercus 
Released: 4th of May 2017 

Harper has tried to forget the past and fit in at expensive boarding school Duncraggan Academy. Her new group of friends are tight; the kind of girls who Harper knows have her back. But Harper can't escape the guilt of her twin sister's Jenna's death, and her own part in it - and she knows noone else will ever really understand.

But new girl Kirsty seems to get Harper in ways she never expected. She has lost a sister too. Harper finally feels secure. She finally feels...loved. As if she can grow beyond the person she was when Jenna died.

Then Kirsty's behaviour becomes more erratic. Why is her life a perfect mirror of Harper's? And why is she so obsessed with Harper's lost sister? Soon, Harper's closeness with Kirsty begins to threaten her other relationships, and her own sense of identity.

How can Harper get back to the person she wants to be, and to the girls who mean the most to her?

What I Have to Say 

This was interesting and guessed what Kirsty was doing from fairly early on. It was interesting to see this story line from the point of view of someone who was so taken in by Kirsty and who just couldn't see how creepy and manipulative she was being. 

What I think I liked most though, other than the beautiful friendship group, full of diversity, was the fact that this isn't a story about destroying and losing friendships. It's a story about second chances. It's about redemption and moving passed grief. Harper is so filled with grief and guilt over the death of her sister and it's all about her and her family needing to move on from that. 

I also felt the boarding school atmosphere was accurate at showing the good and bad sides of boarding school as well. It showed the bitchiness and grudges that students can get in that intense, all girl atmosphere as well as the fun that Harper and her friends get from their close friendships. It shows how friendships can be lost and how hard that is and also how to move on with that. 

In general, it just had a lot of great messages and lot going for it. 

My thanks go to Quercus and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review. 

Monday, 8 May 2017

Legion by Julie Kagawa

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: HQ
Released: 25th of April 2017 

Dragon hatchling Ember Hill was never prepared to find love at all--dragons do not suffer human emotions--let alone the love of a human and a former dragonslayer, at that. With ex-soldier Garret dying at her feet after sacrificing his freedom and his life to expose the deepest of betrayals, Ember knows only that nothing she was taught by dragon organization Talon is true. About humans, about rogue dragons, about herself and what she's capable of doing and feeling.

In the face of great loss, Ember vows to stand with rogue dragon Riley against the dragon-slaying Order of St. George and her own twin brother Dante--the heir apparent to all of Talon, and the boy who will soon unleash the greatest threat and terror dragonkind has ever known.

Talon is poised to take over the world, and the abominations they have created will soon take to the skies, darkening the world with the promise of blood and death to those who refuse to yield.

What I Have to Say 

I'm enjoying this series more than when I started it, but it still isn't my favourite Julie Kagawa series. She's doing really interesting things with the Talon organisation and the clone dragons. I'm especially liking the stuff with Dante. This book especially gave a lot of information on Dante's motivations. It makes sense now as to what he's doing and exactly why he's doing it. I wish he'd get out from Talon's claw, but I can understand his aims and why he thinks he's doing the right thing for both himself and Ember by doing what he's doing. 

The thing that's really holding me back from really adoring this series is the love triangle. I am so sick of love triangles in books. They never capture my interest as much as they seem to with everyone else. I thought that we could move on with it after what happened in the last book. And again I'm hoping that it will be put behind us after the things that happened in this book. I really hope so anyway. I just don't care which of them Ember ends up with, all I care about is whether they can defeat Talon and avoid being killed by St. George. 

The things with St. George have gotten really interesting in this book though. I can't say much without spoilers, but let's just say that I'm really curious to see what they do in the next book... 

My thanks go to HQ and Netgalley for providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 6 May 2017

I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 336
Publisher: Electric Monkey
Released: 4th of May 2017

Jemma knows who did the murder. She knows because he told her. And she can't tell anyone.

Fourteen-year-old Jemma has severe cerebral palsy. Unable to communicate or move, she relies on her family and carer for everything. She has a sharp brain and inquisitive nature, and knows all sorts of things about everyone. But when she is confronted with this terrible secret, she is utterly powerless to do anything. Though that might be about to change...

What I Have to Say 

This was such an interesting story! It made me want a Miss Marple style detective story about a detective who's in a wheelchair tends to overhear things from people around her because people just assume she doesn't understand and then she could use it to her advantage. I think it would be cool if this turned into a series with Jemma at the center, but I don't think it would happen. 

It was so interesting to see things from the point of view of a person with no way to communicate at all. It really opened my eyes to the feelings of humiliation that can come from being stuck like that. Jemma was such an amazing character and she had so much going on in her mind and yet people around her couldn't do anything but just guess at her needs. And even the most kind and sensitive person in the world would never be able to get that right for her. 

I love this book most because it really made me think of things from a different viewpoint and I hope to find more books like this. 

My thanks go to Netgalley and Electric Monkey for providing me with this copy for review.