Sunday, 17 September 2017

The Disappearances - Book Review


The Disappearances 

Emily Bain Murphy

YA Magical Realism

UK Publisher: Pushkin Children’s Books


Synopsis:

Every seven years something disappears in the town of Sterling: people’s reflections, the stars in the sky, the ability to dream. Aila realises that her mother may be to blame for the curse. But some mysteries are buried very deep, and some secrets want to stay hidden - and one young woman’s desire to uncover the truth may not be enough to save Sterling from the past. 

A beautifully told story of love, loss, and finding the truth - no matter how difficult that may be.

Review:

I have read a lot of magical realism lately, and this one has been by far one of my favourites. With elements of magic, grief, romance, and a fantastically twisted plot, this story had it all. 

When Aila and her brother move to small village of Sterling, they begin to notice that things aren't quite normal. Scents have disappeared. Reflections aren't there. The stars no longer shine... and the people of Sterling are certain Aila's mother is the cause...

This is a slow burn story. Time is taken to build the world and the characters, so that when the magic is revealed, it blends seamlessly into reality. I often found myself waiting for something to happen, only to realise that something HAD happened several pages ago, I just hadn't picked up on it’s relevance straight away. That probably sounds strange, but if you read the book I’m sure you would understand.

However I also feel this is a story where you really need to pay attention to the details. There is a lot to absorb so I took my time with it, only reading a couple of chapters each night over a few weeks - crazy considering I read most books within two days, but some stories you really need time to digest. This is one of them. 

I also really enjoyed the writing in this book. There were some really poignant descriptions and I liked the main characters quirk of having a “finishing word” for every conversation, which summed up both her feeling and attitude toward things. 

However what I loved most about the characters was their ordinariness. Despite suffering under a magical curse, day to day, the tried to continue on with normal lives.  Dating, schoolwork, family dinners… while I thought this was sweet, it does keep the pacing fairly slow. That doesn't mean its boring in anyway, but for those of you who like an up and down beat, be aware that the pace of this book stays pretty steady throughout. 

In regards to the characters, most of the story is told from Aila's Pov. However there are interludes of another character, whose true motives and identity aren't revealed until very near the end of the story. Huge congrats to the author for keeping the reader guessing so long, it was certainly unpredictable. 

This of course meant that the plot had several seemingly unrelated threads, however by the last page, everything does come together nicely, with only a few things left a little open.  

Overall, this is a great read for fans of Shakespeare, Magical realism and although witches aren’t ever mentioned, I feel if you like a good story steeped deep in a curse, then this is a book for you. It reminded me a lot of Moira Fowley-Doyle's, Spellbook of the Lost and Found, so if you were a fan of that, then be sure to pick this one up too.

4 stars!

Chat with me

What are your thoughts on magical realism? Anything books you would recommend?



Wednesday, 6 September 2017

July in Review

(A sunny day in Scotland - I forgot how glorious the UK could be!)

July In Review

So today I’m posting my July wrap up (I’m a little behind on things, I know!) but my normal routine has gone completely out the window. Why? Well, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I’VE RETURNED TO ENGLAND… temporarily. 

I think I’ll be here until about October, which makes this my longest stay in about five years. As you can imagine, I’ve had a lot of catching up to do with friends and family… then there was the scary process of retrieving all of my stuff from storage. My room is currently a bed surrounded by 101 boxes of clothes, stationery (Why I have a thousand blank notebooks I will never know) and of course, books books books! It doesn't help that with me gone, my room became storage space for my parent’s things too.

So my highlights for July were:

*CLEAR OUTS! So far I’ve donated about a dozen boxes to charity, sold most of my Manga on eBay, and yet still more boxes of my stuff keep appearing from the depths of the garage. Its strange, but after living out of one 60 litre backpack for so long, I’ve become very un-materialistic. For me the rules have become simple.

  1. Clothes - If it doesn't fit, it goes. If it hasn't been worn in a year, it goes = about 3/4 of my wardrobe.
  2. Books - If they’ve been read and I wont re-read them (my feelings 98% of the time) they go. I think this stems from the fact that I HATE the idea of a perfectly good book only being read once. I truly believe a single book should be passed through as many hands as possible, which is why I adore book swaps and charity shops.
  3. Everything else - If I forgot I had it, its goes! If it has no purpose or sentimental value, it goes! If its never been used, it goes!

*MY MUM GOT ENGAGED! My mum and my soon-to-be-step-dad are finally tying the knot! They’ve only been together 17 years, and I’m so so thrilled. Although my mum has deviously planned the wedding for December 23rd. Her way of ensuring me and my boyfriend will be home for Christmas, instead of freezing our butts off in Mongolia like we had planned…

*ZERO WRITING - yep, you read that right. Not a single word has been added to my MG WIP. I have utterly failed my self-imposed deadline. However, I did hash out my query letter and half-a-synopsis (getting a little ahead of myself I know) but I’m totally in love with my query—it gives me chills (the good kind) — but first… I really have to finish the book….

And that pretty much wraps up my July. A quiet month for me compared to the rest of the year, but at least I got lots of reading done :)

How was July for the rest of you? Did you do anything exciting? And for those of you who attended YALC, know I am extremely and utterly jealous since I’m certain you had an unforgettable time!

Books Read:

  1. Hunted by Meagan Spooner *****
  2. Avenged by Amy Tintera **
  3. Queen of Hearts by Colleen Oakes ***
  4. Immortal Fire by Annette Marie ***** (This shall live on my shelves and be worshipped forever!)
  5. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordon ****
  6. The Savage Dawn by Melissa Grey ****
  7. Blood Red Road by Moria Young ***
  8. Hollow Pike by James Dawnson ****
  9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern ****
  10. Our Dark Duet by V.E Schwab **** (Beautiful but bittersweet!)

POSTS


And that’s a wrap. And yes, I am totally ashamed by my lack of posting… I’m heading off now to catch up on some long over due reviews!

Love and Hugs!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Nearest Faraway Place - Book Review


The Nearest Faraway Place

Hayley Long 

YA Contemporary 


Synopsis:

Griff and Dylan are driving into Manhattan with their parents when the worst happens. There is a terrible car accident and Dylan and Griff’s parents are killed.

The boys are suddenly orphans with nowhere to go, until a kind aunt and uncle give them a new home in Wales. Now Dylan and Griff have everything they need. Love, a happy home and a future. But Dylan is worried about Griff: whether he is ok, whether he is coping with his grief. He doesn't seem to want to speak about it or really acknowledge the loss of their parents.

But Dylan needs to be even braver than Griff, because there is something very important he needs to face up to before he can move on. 

Review:

I always applaud books that make me cry - and this one really teared me up. Beautiful and bittersweet, this is a story that will surprise you, even as it breaks your heart. It is a book that fans of Moria Young’s The Road to Ever After will love. 

When Dylan and Griff lose their parents in a fatal accident, their life of jet-setting around the world comes to a total standstill. Now taken in by their Aunt and Uncle, they must make new lives for themselves in Wales. But Dylan hides a terrible secret that keeps him from moving on, and its a secret he must keep close if he ever hopes to see his brother, Griff, smile again... 

This is by no means a fast paced book. However the voice behind it is strong, steady and filled with an empathy toward grief that will tug at your heart strings. Its a beautiful, poignant read, and the story deals with death in a way that makes this a must read for anyone struggling with loss. 

Told from the older brother, fifteen-year-old Dylan’s perspective, the book takes you on a journey through each stage of grief and acceptance. I particularly adored that both pets and music played a big part in the brothers healing process. 

I also liked all the characters the brothers came into contact with. However what I appreciated most were the flashbacks of their travels. Seeing how happy their family were was lovely, but undeniably sad, but it really makes you feel for everything the boys lost.

What really sold this book for me though was the big plot twist toward the end. It’s not often I’m taken by surprise and this book really threw in a huge curve ball. I overlooked every clue, and although I caught a few lines that puzzled me, I never came close to seeing the finished picture. Massive applause to Hayley Long for her skilled writing!

All in all, a spellbinding read of family, loss and the bond between brothers. 4 stars!

What are your thoughts? Have any of you picked up this book?

Friday, 11 August 2017

The Savage Dawn - Book Review


The Savage Dawn
Melissa Grey
YA Fantasy
The Girl of Midnight Book #3
UK Publisher: Atom

Other Books in the Trilogy:

Synopsis:

The sides have been chosen and the battle lines drawn.

Echo awakened the Firebird. Now she is the only one with the power to face the darkness she unwittingly unleashed… right into the waiting hands of Tanith, the new Dragon Prince. Tannish has one goal in mind: destroy her enemies, raze their lands, and reign supreme in a new era where the Drakharin are almighty and the Avicen are nothing but a memory.

The war that has been brewing for centuries is finally imminent. But the scales are tipped. Echo might hold the power to face the darkness within the Dragon Prince, but she has far to go to master its overwhelming force. And now she’s plagued by uncertainty. With Caius no longer by her side, she doesn't know if she can do it alone. Is she strong enough to save her home and the people she loves?

Whether Echo is ready to face this evil is not the question. The war has begun, and there is no looking back. There are only two outcomes possible: triumph or death.

Review:

A great wrap-up of the trilogy! The Savage Dawn is the final instalment of what has been a a whirlwind adventure. Fantastical through every page, with strong world building, character growth and beautiful word play, it ended on a magical high note that left me satisfied, yet still hoping for more. 

Echo is losing the war. Her beloved Caius has been captured and she is stuck on the island, duty bound to protect what is left of the Avicen people. But as travel through the in-between becomes unstable, Echo learns Tanith is plotting to wipe out the world… and Echo is the only one who stands a chance of stopping her. But just what sacrifice will victory demand, and is Echo willing to pay it?

Aside from a few nit-picks, I really enjoyed this book. What really sprang at me were the characters, most especially the secondary ones. Jasper and Dorian… I could write a whole review based on their relationship alone. I heart this pairing so much and was thrilled to see their emotions hit full bloom. 

However the whole cast, Ivy, Ronan, the Ava… they are a diverse and witty group with lots of quirk. Their interactions with one another really helped bring this story to life and they are one of the reasons I enjoyed this series as much as I did.

Echo has done heaps of growing in this book too. She is more mature after all the trials of book two-and by finally putting her past behind her-she made strong decisions throughout book three. This also allowed her relationship with Caius to move forward, and together they made one impressive unit. 

However my true love for this trilogy lies in Echo’s obsession with collecting words. Once again, these were beautifully threaded throughout the story, allowing Echo to express herself in the most meaningful of ways. Keeping a notebook handy while reading is most recommended!

As for the plot, it was less emotional than book two. Also while I enjoyed the winding journey Echo took, I do feel some readers might grow impatient with the pacing. There were also one or two scenes that I felt were quite similar to events in previous books - but these were all minor niggles that didn't really impede my enjoyment of the story.

The ending though really blew me away. It was open-ended, bittersweet, but still full of hope. It reminded me of Laini Taylor’s ending to her daughter of smoke and bone trilogy… and I think its an ending that people will either love or hate. Personally, I liked it. However I will still be keeping my fingers crossed for a novella of some sort… there is definitely room for one. 

All in all I really enjoyed this book, and the trilogy as a whole. Melissa Grey is definitely an author to watch out for.

4 stars!

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

June in Review

(Me Sky Diving in Vancouver... Don't I look fashionable)

June in Review

You’re probably wondering why I’m posting my June wrap up at the end of July—and all I can say is— I completely forgot about it! Which is a shame, because for me June was a pretty exciting and productive month.

Here are the highlights:

  • I went to the cinema and saw WONDER WOMAN - which I loved. True it was a little cheesy in places, but I adored the soundtrack (It’s now my background writing music) and all in all, it was an empowering film.

  • And speaking of empowering, I went SKY DIVING! A truly exhilarating experience… nothing is more freeing than throwing yourself out of a plane. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do (I'm not crazy, I promise). But a huge applause for my beloved caveman for jumping with me - no small feat considering he’s afraid of heights. He also melted my heart with a real Titanic moment of “If you jump I jump”... made slightly less romantic with his pasty, green-faced, I’m-about-to-throw-up expression.

  • I HIT 68K with my Middle-Grade WIP! Although 60k was my actual word goal… however the story is still going, and going… and going! I’m not too worried because I know much will be cut during edits, but when I think about the amount of slicing and dicing I’ll need to do… Well, for now I’ve decided not to think about it!!

  • I READ 11 BOOKS! As you can see, another fab reading month for me… but I’m crazy behind on reviews! However my favourite reads were Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (No contest) followed by A Court of Wing’s and Ruin by Sarah J Maas. 

Books Read

  1. This Savage Song by V.E Schwab **** (Loved!)
  2. Scythe by Neil Shusterman *****
  3. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby *****
  4. Gilded Cage by Vic James ***
  5. A Conjuring of Light by V.E Schwab *****
  6. The Forever Court by Dave Rudden ***
  7. Truthwitch by Susan Dennard ** 
  8. Six of Crows  by Leigh Bardugo ***** (ADORED!)
  9. Mind Games by Kiersten White ***
  10. The Mystery of the Clockwork Sparrow by Katherine Woodbine ****
  11. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas ***** (LOVED!)

Books Reviewed

Other Posts:


Hope everyone else had a fab June. I'll be posting July's wrap up tomorrow :)
Love & Hugs
x

Monday, 10 July 2017

The Glittering Court - Book Review


The Glittering Court - Book Review
Richelle Mead
Historical Fantasy
UK Publisher: Razorbill
(The Glittering Court #1)

Synopsis:

The Glittering Court tells the story of Adelaide, an Osfridian Countess who poses as her servant to escape an arranged marriage and start a new life in Adoria, the new world. But to do that, she must join the Glittering court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the new world. Adelaide naturally excels in her training, and even makes a few friends: the fiery former laundress Tamsin, and the beautiful Sirminican refugee Mira. She manages to keep her true identity hidden from all but one: the intriguing Cedric Thorn, son of the wealthy proprietor of the Glittering Court.

When Adelaide discovers that Cedric is hiding a dangerous secret of his own, together they hatch a scheme to make the best of Adelaide’s deception. Complications soon arise - first as they cross the treacherous seas from Osfrid to Adoria, and then when Adelaide catches the attention of a powerful governor.

Btu no complication will prove quite as daunting as the potent attraction simmering between Adelaide and Cedric. An Attraction that, if acted on, would scandalise the Glittering Court and make them both outcasts in wild, vastly uncharted lands…

Review:

I have always been a big fan of Richelle Mead, but for me THE GLITTERING COURT was a big let down. Although the book dazzled me in the beginning, the story soon turned into a repetitive, longwinded tangle of plots lines. I really had to force myself to read through to the end. 

When Adelaide is forced into an arranged marriage, she seizes the first opportunity to flee by taking on the name of her maid servant and joining the glittering court—a type of finishing school where young women of the working class are trained in the ways of high society—before journeying across the seas to  the new land of Adoria . There, they are guaranteed rich husbands, but Adelaide must keep her identity a secret at all costs, or she will be forced to return home to life she no longer wants.

Adelaide was a strong character but I didn't understand her motives at all.  She fled an arranged marriage for the opportunity to go to a hostile country, where another arranged marriage was waiting… only to toss all her careful plans into the wind when she falls into the arms of  a man who was by her side the whole time…

Honestly while I liked the adventurous side of this book, the story fell flat. The whole plot rode on Adelaide’s whims and fancies, and with all the twists and turns, I’m just not sure what this book was trying to be. While I did enjoy the beginning— the initial set-up and premise of the story were really strong— this story just goes on and on and toward the end, my attention was definitely wandering. 

Not only were the conflicts in the story resolved too quickly, but Adelaide never really suffered any consequences. She got everything she wanted in a nice tidy bow and as a reader, I just kept waiting for something more to happen. 

The romance at least was sweet and I did cheer for Adelaide’s chosen man. I liked all the secondary characters and the world itself was beautifully depicted. The book though should have been half the size it was. 

It jumped from high society to finishing school, to ship, then  onto the wild west with Scottish style savages. It tried to be so many things, go in so many directions that the story felt thin. And although labeled a fantasy, there is nothing fantastical in this book. Despite being set in a made up world, the most magical things were the place names. 

All in all, this book was a huge disappointment for me. 2 stars!

Have any of you read this book? Curious to know, what did the rest of you make of it?

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Love & Gelato - Book Review



Love & Gelato
Jenna Evans Welch
YA Contemporary Romance
UK Publisher: Walker Books

Synopsis:

The dying wish of 16-year-old Lina’s mother was for her daughter to live in Tuscany and get to know her father, whom Lina has never met.

“Howard is the best man I’ve ever known,” her mother says, “he’ll keep you safe.” Why did her mother wait so long to tell her about him? Lina has a happy life in Seattle and doesn't want to leave. Shortly after she arrives at Howard’s home, Lina meets Sonya, who gives Lina a diary that belonged to Lina’s mother, the one she had kept while she was a photography student in Florence. While Lina is living her life and exploring Tuscany with her handsome neighbour, Ren, she follows in the footsteps of her mother and gets to know her as never before. She also finds out the truth about her father. Mostly she finds out about herself.

Review:

Love & Gelato is the perfect summer read! The writing is smooth, using all five senses to draw you into a breathtaking world of heartache, new love and the magical country that is Italy. I must admit though that I thought parts of the end were a little cheesy, but in good way that left me smiling, even if I was shaking my head. Still I enjoyed every page of this book, cheesiness and all!

After her mother’s untimely death, Lina is forced to spend a summer in Italy with the father she has never met. Plotting her escape back to the states, her days are only made bearable by the amazing food, and a sparking friendship with a boy named Ren. But when she is gifted an old diary of her mothers—detailing the eighteen months of her mum’s own Italian adventure—Lina discovers a side of her mum she never knew. A side full of secrets that are about to rock Lina’s whole world, all over again. 

Romance, beautiful scenery, a story within a story… along with mouth watering food descriptions, this book has it all. It also left me with a huge yearning to fly to Italy immediately… and the biggest craving for pizza and gelato! 

Lina is a very honest character. Her feelings are very raw and as a reader, you can’t help but feel bad for her situation. She is very relatable as a person, however her restraint toward reading her mum’s diary drove me a little crazy. I really wanted to know what happened next!

Thanks to the dairy, this was also a story within a story, allowing the author to seamlessly flow between mother and daughter's POV. This gave us an in depth look at both characters, and their relationship. It made for a thrilling yet heart-wrenching read.

As for the romance, it was delicious in its slow burn and friendship building way. Ren is instantly likeable and quickly proves himself as a great guy. Watching him and Lina flirt was super cute and they were the sort of couple you're just begging to hurry up and kiss already :)

I did have a couple of gripes with this book though. As I mentioned, I thought parts of the end were a little cliche, but still cute and fitting with the story. However Lina could be a little naive at times and she doesn't always make the best choices. Ultimately though these were all small things and I still turned the last page, completely satisfied with the story.

All in all I can’t wait for this authors next book - I just discovered it will be set in Ireland - which I’m super excited for! Jenna Evans Welch is definitely a writer to watch out for.

Swoon-worthy, emotional and full of colour, I give Love & Gelato 4 stars!

Talk to Me!

Have any of you guys read this book? If so what are your thoughts? Any more summery reads you would recommend?