Monday, 24 April 2017

Windfall by Jennifer E. Smith

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320 
Publisher: Pan Macmillan 
Released: 4th of May 2017 

Alice doesn’t believe in luck—at least, not the good kind. But she does believe in love, and for some time now, she’s been pining for her best friend, Teddy. On his eighteenth birthday—just when it seems they might be on the brink of something—she buys him a lottery ticket on a lark. To their astonishment, he wins $140 million, and in an instant, everything changes. 

At first, it seems like a dream come true, especially since the two of them are no strangers to misfortune. As a kid, Alice won the worst kind of lottery possible when her parents died just over a year apart from each other. And Teddy’s father abandoned his family not long after that, leaving them to grapple with his gambling debts. Through it all, Teddy and Alice have leaned on each other. But now, as they negotiate the ripple effects of Teddy’s newfound wealth, a gulf opens between them. And soon, the money starts to feel like more of a curse than a windfall. 

As they try to find their way back to each other, Alice learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined . . . and about the unexpected ways in which luck and love sometimes intersect.

What I Have to Say 

This is a great book about the ups and downs of life. Teddy and Alice haven't had the best of fortune in their lives, but when Teddy wins the lottery, it seems like their luck is going to turn, but it's not quite as easy as it seems. This book really looks into the expectations and media coverage that lottery winners get after their win. 

It wasn't as cute and relaxing to read as I've found Jennifer E. Smith's books before. It's not that the other books weren't deep, but I feel that because through most of the book Alice love for Teddy seems unrequited, it didn't have the romantic feel that the other books. I liked it a lot in other ways, but it wasn't what I'd been expecting. 

Alice's struggle was really interesting to read. I've read a lot of books about identity and trying to find out what you actually like rather than what you've felt pushed into and the fact that she honestly thought that she was happy until it was time to actually decide on a University felt quite realistic. Freezing when it comes to big decisions and putting it off because I don't want to face it, is something that I do a lot, so it felt very familiar to me. 

I'm not completely overwhelmed by this book but it was a good read. 

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

Saturday, 22 April 2017

My Life as a Bench by Jaq Hazell

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 234
Publisher: Nowness Books
Released: 2nd of May 2017

'There are so many benches lining the riverside, each and every one tragic in its own way.'

Ren Miller has died aged seventeen and yet her consciousness lives on, inhabiting her memorial bench by the River Thames in London.

Ren longs to be reunited with her boyfriend Gabe, but soon discovers why he has failed to visit. Devastated, she must learn to break through and talk to the living so she can reveal the truth about her tragic end.

What I Have to Say 

This book was so good! I think I would have read it in one sitting if it wasn't an eBook. Ren was such an interesting character, though maybe the fact that she was stuck as a bench had something to do with her. Still it was interesting to hear how she had run away from Devon to find her father and how she coped with living in London.

But the most important part was the bench. It's just such an interesting take on the afterlife, bringing the idea of ghosts and memorials together to have a person inhabit the object with their plaque on, leaving them to observe the world and relive their memories until they find release from the limbo they're stuck in.

The book would have been dull however, but for the mystery surrounding who had killed Ren and how exactly she had died. I liked the way Hazell teased the reader, throwing out several different hints about how she might die. The way he threw out the idea of gangs and knives and guns which could easily be foreshadowing or just a red herring.

This is definitely a book that I would recommend. It's just such an interesting premise and it was so well executed.

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

Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Girl from the Tyne by Melody Sachs

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 400
Publisher: Zaffre
Released: 20th of April 2017 

Ballroom dancer Alice Rooney seduces Jack Wood, a local boy from a good Tyneside family. With a little one on the way, Jack is forced in to a shotgun marriage. He vows to protect his baby daughter but his marriage is volatile from the start.

Damaged by her own dysfunctional childhood Alice shows not a scrap of affection towards little Lizzie. As Alice feels more trapped and unhappy, Lizzie becomes the focus of her frustration and anger. Lizzie's saving grace is her loving grandmother, Mrs Wood, who does her best to improve life for her whenever she can.

When Jack is drafted in to the Air Force at the start of WWII, Lizzie is left alone with her unstable mother and life becomes almost unbearable. 

It's only when Mrs Wood steps in and introduce Lizzie to the Madame Bella's Academy for the theatrical arts, that Lizzie blossoms. Though still very young and innocent, will Lizzie fulfil her dream to escape her mother's clutches and leave Newcastle behind to pursue a glittering theatrical future? And will she be safe, if she does?

What I Have to Say 

I think I just prefer books with a more defined plot arc. Books like this where there isn't one are all well and good, but I spent most of the book waiting for the story to really start, not realising that it actually already had. I mean it wasn't a bad story. It was interesting to see Lizzie grow up and the way that the abuse of her mother had an effect on her. 

I do think that Lizzie grew up into a surprisingly good kid considering the lack of affection and the critical way her mother was towards her. I mean the amount of times Lizzie skipped meals to avoid conflict or was sent to bed without, I feel she probably should have been severely undernourished. Either way, I think that it was probably inaccurate that she would be such a put together person having grown up with a mother like that. 

It was interesting to see how the family all banded together to try and look after Lizzie as much as they could though. I've never thought about how things were before child services and how kids could just suffer all on their own like that, so it was nice that they showed that, but also showed the father and his family doing what they could to support Lizzie and give her time away from her mother. 

I would have enjoyed it better if it had been a more focused plot but it was a fairly good book overall. 

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

Monday, 17 April 2017

The Cows by Dawn O'Porter

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 464
Publisher: Harper Collins 
Released: 6th of April 2017 

COW [n.]

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.

THE COWS is a powerful novel about three women. In all the noise of modern life, each needs to find their own voice.

It’s about friendship and being female.
It’s bold and brilliant.
It’s searingly perceptive.
It's about never following the herd.

And everyone is going to be talking about it.

What I Have to Say 

This book really wasn't my thing. I just don't like too much sex in books. I get that the book was all about encouraging women to speak up about sex and everything, but for me, male or female, I'm just not interested in that much sex. I prefer different kind of stories. 

I also don't think the whole video going viral subplot was that realistic. I think that a video of that kind of content would get flagged as sensitive pretty quickly and removed. Even if people kept reposting it, I just don't think that a video of that nature would get the kind of traction needed to become a viral sensation like that. A thing that I think would have made this part of the plot better would be if more had been made about the fact that she'd been filmed without her consent. I would have been far more interested had Tara tried to get legal action taken against the boy who filmed her. 

Another thing I did like was the question of whether the father has the right to know about a pregnancy. It was interesting the way both sides were shown and it honestly has me questioning my opinion on the subject. The whole controversy over Annie's father and the way that Tara found out what he thought on the matter really has me thinking that sometimes keeping a child's father from knowing is the kinder thing to do. 

I'm sad because I really like Dawn O'Porter's writing, but like I said, this book just really wasn't my kind of think. 

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

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The House of Mountfathom by Nigel McDowell

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 384
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 9th of March 2017 

Luke Mountfathom knows he is special and odd. He is told so by everyone he knows. His parents are special and odd too - they are the keepers of the House of Mountfathom, a magnificent stately home where the wrong door could take you to a far away land, and strange animals appear to stalk the grounds at midnight. The house is his home - but it is also the headquarters of the Driochta, a magic-weaving group of poets, artists, politicians and activists charged with keeping the peace in Ireland. They have many powers - have mastered Mirror-Predicting and Smoke-Summoning and Storm-Breaching - and a final ability: that of Mogrifying; taking on a unique animal form.

But Luke's idyllic existence at Mountfathom cannot last. Word reaches the House of protests across Ireland. There is a wish for independence, a rising discontent and scenes of violence that even the Driochta cannot control. In Dublin, death and disease is running rife in the tenements; a darkness is clogging the air, and is intent on staying. And when things quickly spin out of control for the Driochta, it is up to Luke, his cat Morrigan and his best friend Killian to worm out the heart of the evil in their land.

What I Have to Say 

This was another book that I just couldn't get into. I liked the opening, with the magic of the house and the way it was written, but after that, not much seemed to happen for most of the book. It was just Luke growing up and learning magic with a couple of adventures scattered in. I have to admit that I was completely bored. 

It's a real shame because I really liked the way that the magic system worked. I love the house and the way that it was all blended in with Irish history. 

It was a story that I could have really enjoyed if more had just happened in it. But as it was all the action was left until the last bit of the book and by that time I just wanted to finish with it and move onto something else. 

I really wish I could have liked this book, but I just didn't. 

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

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Out of Heart by Irfan Master

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 272
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 20th of April 2017 

Donating your heart is the most precious gift of all.

Adam is a teenage boy who lives with his mum and younger sister. His dad has left them although lives close by. His sister no longer speaks. His mum works two jobs. Adam feels the weight of the world upon his shoulders.

Then his grandfather dies and in doing so he donates a very precious gift - his heart. 

William is the recipient of Adam's grandfather's heart. He has no family and feels rootless and alone. In fact, he feels no particular reason to live. And then he meets Adam's family. 

William has received much, but it appears that he has much to offer Adam and his family too.

What I Have to Say 

This was a good story, but the way it was written didn't click with me. It was too arty, with all the words suddenly appearing in the text. I think that's a big reason as to why I didn't get on with it. It was easier as I got on through the story and as I began to engage with the characters, but it didn't make that much of a difference. 

I liked Adam as a character. I liked his drawing and the way he is with his sister. I also liked the graffiti and the way that Adam wanted to leave his mark on the world. How he wanted to show what was in his head to more people. 

I still think it's a bit weird how the family treated William. I mean what kind of people just accept someone who shows up on their doorstep into their home like that? But I understood it more as it went on. 

It would have been nice to connect more with this book, I think I would have really enjoyed it if I hadn't been so put off by the style. 

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

Monday, 10 April 2017

And Then We Ran by Katy Cannon

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 352
Publisher: Stripes Publishing
Released: 6th of April 2017

A road-trip story about following your dreams and embracing the unexpected.

Megan knows what she wants out of life and she intends to get it, whatever her parents say.

Elliott has given up on all his plans for the future – but then Megan bursts into his life with a proposal that could change it forever.

Together they embark on a road trip to escape their hometown and chase their dreams. But life is a journey and not even Megan can control where theirs will lead…

What I Have to Say 

I wasn't sure about this book. It was a good enough story and there were moments that I really liked, but it didn't leave much of an impression on me. The character's were cool. I liked Megan and her wild ideas. I liked the way that Elliott knew how Megan was with her crazy ideas and how willing he was to go along with her idea. 

I liked the way it ended too. It was such a desperate scheme that I knew it probably all work out the way they planned it to. So I'd guessed pretty much how it would end, at least for Megan. But I like the way it came together quite neatly, even if I was rooting for them to pull it all off. 

I wasn't sure about the treatment of grief in the book. I guess that most of the grief really takes place before the book starts. Megan has reach a point where she's ready to move on and become her own person, even if her parents still weren't. 

So basically, I enjoyed reading this book, but it wasn't one that is especially good or especially bad. It was interesting but not anything special. 

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