Saturday, 24 June 2017

The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha Pulley

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 336
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK 
Released: 13th of July 2017 

Deep in uncharted Peru, the holy town of Bedlam stands at the edge of a forest. The shrine statues move, and anyone who crosses the border dies. But somewhere inside are cinchona trees, whose bark yields quinine: the only known treatment for malaria.

On the other side of the Pacific, it is 1859 and India is ravaged by the disease. The hunt for a reliable source of quinine is critical and in its desperation, the India Office searches out its last qualified expeditionary. Struggling with a terrible injury from his last mission and the strange occurrences at his family's ruined estate, Merrick Tremayne finds himself under orders to bring back cinchona cuttings at any cost and dispatched, against his own better judgement, to Bedlam.

There he meets Raphael, a priest around whom the villagers spin unsettlingly familiar stories of impossible disappearances and living stone. Gradually, he realises that Raphael is the key to a legacy left by two generations of Tremayne explorers before him, one which will prove more dangerous and valuable than the India Office could ever have imagined.

What I Have to Say 

Let's be honest here, this was never going to be quite as good as The Watchmaker of Filigree street. Nothing could have followed that and been quite as good. This did eventually get the same feel to it that Filigree Street had, though it was slower to be as good. It was probably mostly because my expectations for it was too high, but I think it also took longer for the magic to really appear in the book. It was took normal, even when they got to Bedlam and started to see the pollen and the trees, it still didn't feel completely magical until lately on. 

By the end of it, I was in love with it though. Not as much as Filigree Street but I still got a little bit of that same feeling. I think the reappearance of Keita helped. He's just such a fantastic character and I don't think I'd ever get bored of reading about him. 

This book had some really interesting themes. The idea of language that came up in it was just so fascinating. The themes of translation and mistranslation and how much culture and belief is hard to translate when talking to foreigners. This book definitely stressed the point of how to really know and understand anything about a culture you have to fully embrace it. 

I love this world of hidden magic so much. I can't wait for Natasha Pulley's next book. 


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

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Goodnight, Boy by Nikki Sheehan

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Publisher: ONEWorld Publications 
Released: 6th of July 2017 

A tale of two very different worlds, both shattered by the loss of loved ones. Tragic, comic and full of hope, thanks to a dog called Boy.

The kennel has been JC’s home ever since his new adoptive father locked him inside. For hours on end, JC sits and tells his dog Boy how he came to this country: his family; the orphanage and the Haitian earthquake that swept everything away.

When his adoptive mother Melanie rescues him, life starts to feel normal again. Until JC does something bad, something that upset his new father so much that he and Boy are banished to the kennel. But as his new father gets sicker, JC realizes they have to find a way out. And so begins a stunning story of a boy, a dog and their journey to freedom.

What I Have To Say 

This book was made special by the way it was written. As one boy's monologue to his dog, it was different to a lot of things. Even other books written in monologue haven't come close to being as good as this one. I think that's partly because as JC tells the dog his story, he often has to stop and come back to the present because something is happening with the dog. 

I found that this story really captured me. Often monologue stories can be a little dull, but there were so many threads and little mysteries that kept my attention fixed on the story. What happened that caused JC and Boy to be locked into the kennel? When will Melanie come back? All these little questions keep me interested and reading to the very end. 

JC's voice also just made me care for him a lot. His voice was so young and he had been through so much, it made it so easy to connect with him and want the best for him. 

This was definitely a very interesting book and it's made me more interested in reading more like it. 


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

Monday, 19 June 2017

Runemarks by Joanne M. Harris

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 528
Publisher: Gollancz
Released: 24th of November 2016 

It's been five hundred years since the end of the world and society has rebuilt itself anew. The old Norse gods are no longer revered. Their tales have been banned. Magic is outlawed, and a new religion - the Order - has taken its place.

In a remote valley in the north, fourteen-year-old Maddy Smith is shunned for the ruinmark on her hand - a sign associated with the Bad Old Days. But what the villagers don't know is that Maddy has skills. According to One-Eye, the secretive Outlander who is Maddy's only real friend, her ruinmark - or runemark, as he calls it - is a sign of Chaos blood, magical powers and gods know what else...

Now, as the Order moves further north, threatening all the Worlds with conquest and Cleansing, Maddy must finally learn the truth to some unanswered questions about herself, her parentage, and her powers.

What I Have to Say 

This book dragged a little for me. It was a really interesting concept and I really enjoyed the first half of it, but then it just went on a bit to long and it got a bit too involved with all the Gods and factions. It may just be that I'm not so used to reading High Fantasy these days and I really wanted to enjoy it, but I think I just wasn't in the mood for such an involved plot. 

I loved the characters. Each of the gods was played up to almost caricature level of personality. Loki as always was a very complex and beautifully mean character who seemed to love pissing people off as much as he regretted having everyone hated him. Odin, the one who wanted to be the man behind the scenes and pulling all the strings, the general of the army, but weakened by Ragnarok. And then there was Maddy, stuck in the centre of all the politics and backstabbing of the gods and trying to make sense of everything and survive it all. 

I'll probably read the next one at some point, because I really think I could like this series. I just have to be in the right mood to read it. 


My thanks go to Gollancz for providing me with this copy for review

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Day 7 by Kerry Drewery

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 448 
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 15th of June 2017 
Other Books in the Series: Cell 7 

Martha Honeydew has been released from the terrifying Cell 7. But despite her new freedom, the corrupt judicial system is still tracking Martha's every move. And Isaac, her only trusted friend, is now imprisoned in the very same cells she was. Isaac saved Martha's life, it is only right she now saves his. 

But with Martha still a target, her chances of saving Isaac are remote. Martha begins to question whether it is ever possible to escape government scrutiny. 

Will Martha and Isaac ever reunite? 

Will they ever live in a better world?

What I Have to Say 

I loved Cell 7 so I was really looking forward to Day 7, but it made me feel a bit disappointed when I found it a little repetitive. For a lot of it, it kind of felt like the same plot as Cell 7 but with Isaac in the cell instead of Martha. It was different enough to keep me interested, but I think it could have been more different. 

I love the whole concept of it though. Everything is a conspiracy. Everything is manipulation and I feel like in this book we saw more of that. We saw how everyone's strings are being pulled behind the scenes. Not just the presenters of the TV shows but even Martha and Eve and everyone else. I love reading about manipulation and how hard it is to escape from this kind of thing. 

I'm looking forward to the next book a lot. I don't like the repetitiveness, but I still love the whole idea and everything else about, Kerry Drewery's writing is beautiful and the different styles really bring it all together. 

I can't wait to see what happens now. 


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

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Flight of a Starling by Lisa Heathfield


Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 320
Publisher: Electric Monkey 
Released: 29th of June 2017 

Rita and Lo, sisters and best friends, have spent their lives on the wing – flying through the air in their trapeze act, never staying in one place for long. Behind the greasepaint and the glitter, they know that the true magic is the family they travel with.

Until Lo meets a boy. Suddenly, she wants nothing more than to stay still. And as secrets start to tear apart the close-knit circus community, how far will Lo go to keep her feet on the ground?

Trigger Warnings: Suicide 


What I Have to Say 

I can't give this book a good review. I can't do that because it left me feeling awful. It left me shaking and scared and in a really bad state for the whole of the next day. So much so that I ended up having to miss my class and go home because I couldn't manage. I want to discuss exactly why at the end of this review for people who don't want spoilers. But if you have any triggers, be sure to check out the trigger warning above, because this book triggered me really badly. 

So one short paragraph about what I like for the people who don't suffer from the same stuff as I do. 

I liked the circus life and the characters a lot. Heathfield showed a really interesting culture that went on in the little circus and I would have loved to see more of it. Also, Rita and Lo were such interesting characters. I really think that if it hadn't been for the ending, I would have really loved this book. 

On to the SPOILERS: 

This book showed a very graphic suicide. It showed a character taking pills, including details like how many pills she took and all the feelings that she had while taking them in detail. I haven't been suicidal for a long time, but this book revived all of the feelings that I had back when I was. It was only for the short time between when I finished the book and I went to sleep as I'd stayed up late to finish it. But as I said. I was shaken really badly during the next day. 

I worry about this book falling into the hands of someone who's actively suicidal. The readership of this book is teenagers, who can be more susceptible to this sort of stuff. I know from the acknowledgement that this wasn't the authors intention, so I just really feel that it shouldn't be this detailed. 

This book has really made me question whether to pick up any more of Lisa Heathfield's books again because there was no warning for this and I don't want anything like this to happen again. 



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

Monday, 12 June 2017

Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index by Julie Israel

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 345
Publisher: Penguin
Released: 1st of June 2017 

This moving and uplifting debut follows Juniper Lemon, heartbroken after her older sister Camilla's unexpected death, as she navigates the holes that have been torn in her world, and the mysteries that Camilla left behind.

It's hard to keep close a person everyone keeps telling you is gone.

It's been sixty-five painful days since the death of Juniper's big sister, Camilla. On her first day back at school, bracing herself for the stares and whispers, Juniper borrows Camie's handbag for luck - and discovers an unsent break-up letter inside. It's mysteriously addressed to 'You' and dated July 4th - the day of Camie's accident. Desperate to learn the identity of Camie's secret love, Juniper starts to investigate.

But then she loses something herself. A card from her daily ritual, The Happiness Index: little notecards on which she rates the day. The Index has been holding Juniper together since Camie's death - but without this card, there's a hole. And this particular card contains Juniper's own secret: a memory that she can't let anyone else find out.

What I Have to Say 

This is such a beautiful book about grief, guilt and friendship. It's about how people process and grieve differently. It was interesting to see the family dynamic and how each member of the family were trying to grieve for Camilla in different ways and how it meant that Juniper clashed so much with her mum and how she wasn't able to grieve because her mum got upset every time Camilla was mentioned. 

Though Juniper's motives for getting them together may not have been entirely good, I loved the friendship group that formed throughout the novel. It was obvious how close they were growing in such a short amount of time and it felt real. It felt like what you want in a friendship group.

I also really liked the arty stuff. I loved how the idea of the found collages and how Juniper started to express herself through her art. 

For friendship, realistic characters and Dala horses, Juniper Lemon's Happiness Index is the place to go. 


My thanks go to Netgally and Penguin for providing me with this copy for review. 

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Dramatically Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press 
Released: 6th June 2017 

Senior year is not shaping up to be the picture perfect movie Em Katsaros had imagined. Her super hot leading man is five thousand miles away. Her dad just got laid off. And Em can kiss her first-pick university goodbye if she doesn't snag a scholarship

To turn this Shakespearean tragedy into the Academy Award-winning dream Em has written for herself, she enters a speech competition and manages to cinch a spot in the US Youth Change Council national round. She gets to spend a week in Boston and her prayers might be answered if she can kick butt and win one of the national scholarships.

Everything seems to be going by the script until she finds out Kris Lambert-senior class president, stuck-up jerk, and her nemesis-is going, too. Cue the dramatic music. In Boston, Kris is different. Nice. Cute, even. But she knows his game way too well-be nice to your opponents and then throw them under the bus on your way to victory. Instead of becoming his next victim, Em decides to turn the tables by putting her acting and flirting skills to work. Unfortunately, as they get close to the final competition and judging, reality and acting start to blur.

Can Em use the drama from the stage to get the future she's been dreaming of?

What I Have to Say 

I love book series where we switch to a different character each book. This book made me miss Phoebe's voice a lot, but it's so great to see Em's story and I can't wait for the third one. 

The dynamic between Kris and Em was what really made this book I think. It's so different from Phoebe's story. I also really enjoyed how much the intense field trip to Boston was shown. It highlighted how tied up in her emotions Em was getting, because there just wasn't time to process it while she was going from one conference to the next. 

I really liked Em's character as well. She was so driven. I love to read about people who know what they want and are ready to go out and do anything to get it. With actors like Em it can be especially fun because you can see the characters they put on. 

I think Bookishly is still my favourite, but this is a very good follow up. I can't wait for Practically Ever After! 


My thanks go to Netgalley and Spencer Hill Press for providing me with this copy for review. 

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Aurabel by Laura Dockrill

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 304 
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 1st of June 2017 
Other Books in the Series: Lorali 

It has been two years since Rory drowned, and Lorali is in Hastings, living the quiet life of a normal teenage girl. But her safe life on land won't last for long. Life in The Whirl has become a hotbed of underwater politics and as the council jostles to oust the king, one Mer in particular has her eye on Lorali as the key to her own rise to power.


Meanwhile, Aurabel, a lowly Mer from the wrong side of the trench, is attacked by sea beasts and left for dead - and without a tail. Raging with righteous anger, she rebuilds herself a mechanical tail and reinvents herself as a fearless steampunk Mer seeking revenge. But she never expected the most important job that was about to drop into her lap.

What I Have to Say 

I didn't like this as much as Lorali. I think most of that is because I didn't warm to Aurabel as quickly as I did to Lorali. Lorali had all the sweet innocence and Aurabel has an edge to her even before the events of the stories started. I grew to like her more once she became bad-ass, but at first she just wasn't a character I could connect to. 

It also was just lacking the innocence and wonder that I really enjoyed about Lorali. Lorali's wonder at discovering everything about the Walkers was one of the best things about Lorali and I just missed it so much. It also had all all the darker elements that were in the second half of Lorali and it quickly became a bit too much for me. It was all dark and gore and not enough lightness to balance it out. 

I still think that these are good books, but I just was so unprepared for Aurabel.  I think if I reread it now that I like Aurabel as a character and am more prepared for the dark, gritty feel of the book, I'd enjoy it more, but this time it just didn't live up to my hopes. 


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

Monday, 5 June 2017

The Women of the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 368 
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre 
Released: 18th of May 2017 

A resistance widow. A silent co-conspirator. The only one who survived. 

The Third Reich has crumbled. The Russians are coming.
Can Marianne von Lingenfels and the women in her care survive and build their ravaged world anew?

Marianne - widow of a resistor to the Nazi regime - returns to the grand, crumbling castle where she once played host to all of German high society. She assembles a makeshift family from the ruins of her husband's movement, rescuing her dearest friend's widow, Benita, from sexual slavery to the Russian army, and Ania from a work camp for political prisoners. She is certain their shared past will bind them together.

But as Benita begins a clandestine relationship and Ania struggles to conceal her role in the Nazi regime, Marianne learns that her clear-cut, highly principled world view has no place in these new, frightening and emotionally-charged days.

All three women must grapple with the realities they now face, and the consequences of decisions each made in the darkest of times . . . 

What I Have to Say 

This book was interesting, but it frightened me a lot. I don't think I can read books about the lead up to the Second World Two and Nazi Germany for a while. It's just too close to what's happening politically in America right now and I'm not sure I can handle reading that. So much of the stuff that was shown in this book is so close to what's happening in America right now. The only comfort I can take is that I'm seeing a lot more resistance. 

The book itself though was pretty good. The characters and their different stories were really interesting and the way their personalities interacted showed how good characters they were and the way that their experiences defined their characters so much, both what they went through during the war and their interactions with the Nazi party before the war. 

Marianne's journey throughout the novel was really something as well. Her political opinions were so strong, whereas the other women didn't believe so strongly in things. It was interesting to see how that hardened her and how her pressure on the other characters to see things as black and white as she does effected them and her relationships with them. 

This is a novel about the shades of gray. This is a novel about the German people, how complicit they were, but also about how they were treated afterwards. It goes into morality and consequence and blame in a really fascinating way.


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

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Superpowerless by Chris Priestley

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Pages: 336
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Released: 15th of June 2017 

David is sixteen. A pretty ordinary boy, in most ways - he just wants to hang out in his bedroom, reading his dad's old comics. Comics that are full of his heroes - those figures whose lives are charmed, special, unique. 

Life hasn't been easy recently for David, though. His father died just a couple of years ago, he has a fractious relationship with his mum, and he has fallen out with his best friend. But, David has a secret, which he hasn't told anyone. He has superpowers. He can soar through the air, he has superhearing, he feels and hears everything super-keenly. So life should be easier, then, shouldn't it? But somehow it's not - and when David gets involved with the girl next door, gorgeous Holly Hunter, he begins to realise just how very complicated it can get. 

David's harbouring another secret, a deeper darker one, and on this journey from boyhood to manhood, will he have the courage to face up to it?

What I Have to Say 

This was really not the book for me. There's a certain kind of book that's written about selfish teenage boys who only think about sex all the time. I know that according to a lot of people and the media that this is accurate to teenage boys, but I really just don't believe it. Some of the selfishness can be accounted for by the depression, but mostly I didn't believe it. 

The superpower element was interesting and it was a good way to show David processing events, but the artwork wasn't to my taste at all and again, so much of it was centred around sex and David watching Holly through the scope that it really put me off. 

I also felt that there was barely any personality written for the girls at all. Holly was beginning to develop a bit towards the end, but other than sunbathing and a crush on Robert Downey Jr, she really didn't have much of a life outside of helping David through his grief. Ellen had even less going for her. She was just there for David to lust after. 

In all. I just didn't like this book. If it hadn't been for review, I probably wouldn't have bothered finishing it. 



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

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell

Synopsis (from Goodreads

Pages: 416
Publisher: Hot Key Books 
Released: 4th of May 

"There are three things that earn you a man’s name among the Jan’Tep. The first is to demonstrate the strength to defend your family. The second is to prove you can perform the high magic that defines our people. The third is surviving your fourteenth year. I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn’t be doing any of those things."

MAGIC IS A CON GAME. Kellen is moments away from facing his first mage's duel and the start of four trials that will make him a spellcaster. There's just one problem: his magic is gone. As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Kellen falls back on his cunning in a bid to avoid total disgrace. But when a daring stranger arrives in town, she challenges Kellen to take a different path. Ferius Parfax is one of the mysterious Argosi - a traveller who lives by her wits and the three decks of cards she carries. She's difficult and unpredictable, but she may be Kellen's only hope...

What I Have to Say 

Don't you just love when a book is so much better than you expected it to be? Especially since I'm going through a phase of not being so into Fantasy at the moment, when I looked at this book, I wasn't sure whether it was for me. But it looked interesting and there were things that drew me to it. So I gave it a chance and I am so, so glad I did, because it was fantastic. 

The whole world just had something interesting to it. The society of the Jan'Tep with their mage names and the class divide between the magic users and the non-magic users. Also, the small hints at what Argosi life is like. I was so happy when there was another hint about what Ferius Parfax's life consisted of. 

The only thing that put me off a bit was that Kellen was rather whiny about not having magic. Other than trying to trick people, he didn't do much to try and help himself out or find out what Ferius was offering him outside of magic. I got that his situation was awful and that probably would be what I'd do in that situation too, but I much preferred him towards the end of the book when he took matters into his own hands and actually did something about it all. 

With secrets, lies and interesting societies, I truly think this is one of the better Fantasy books I've read lately, I really feel it's making an effort to do things different. I can't wait for the next book so that I can see more of the world outside of Kellen's society. 


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