Monday, 6 July 2015

Summer Blogging Break!

Image via WeHeartIt

Over the past few years I've blogged through summer, but this year, I've decided to take a break. It feels like things are winding down a little in the book blogging world, you know? I think this happens every year during the summer months; visitors to the blog dwindle, as do comments, reader interaction and all the rest, so...

I'm taking a break.

I plan on returning to blogging sometime in August, although I'm not quite sure when in August - could be early-mid or mid-late.  We'll see!

Until then, have a fun summer and happy reading!

Check out my Goodreads Profile to keep up to date with what I'm reading this summer!


*****

Book Review: The Other Child by Lucy Atkins.


Product details:
Publisher: Quercus.
Paperback, 400 pages.
Release date: June 4th 2015.
Rating:  3 out of 5.
Ages: Adult
Source: Received from publisher for review.

 Sometimes a lie seems kinder than the truth . . . but what happens when that lie destroys everything you love?

When Tess is sent to photograph Greg, a high profile paediatric heart surgeon, she sees something troubled in his face, and feels instantly drawn to him. Their relationship quickly deepens, but then Tess, single mother to nine-year-old Joe, falls pregnant, and Greg is offered the job of a lifetime back in his hometown of Boston. Before she knows it, Tess is married, and relocating to the States. But life in an affluent American suburb proves anything but straightforward.

Unsettling things keep happening in the large rented house, Joe is distressed, the next-door neighbours are in crisis, and Tess is sure that someone is watching her. Greg's work is all-consuming and, as the baby's birth looms, he grows more and more unreachable. Something is very wrong, Tess knows it, and then she makes a jaw-dropping discovery ...


What’s with this fictional trend which finds seemingly smart and successful women married to men they barely know, all of whom are inevitably harbouring deep dark secrets behind invariably perfectly polished and dashingly handsome appearances? It’s a trend that lends itself to a sometimes good story, yes, but it’s also pretty much guaranteed to leave me rolling my eyes and wishing and hoping that the women in question will hopefully wise up and grow a brain before they end up in dire straits indeed.

Sheesh.

Tess, the protagonist in The Other Child by Lucy Atkins is a case in point. Tess, a photographer who lives in London with her nine year old son Joe is sent to photograph paediatric heart surgeon, Greg, for an upcoming publication. Tess, who is drawn to Greg on sight, more or less because of the guarded, troubled look in his eyes, quickly marries him, falls pregnant and relocates to Boston, where it is evident from the get-go that Greg is not who he seems, and is, in fact, keeping a whole lot of secrets from her. It soon occurs to Tess that she really doesn’t know her new husband at all. Maybe that should have occurred to her before she married him and moved her son half way across the world? Just saying. Also, who is drawn to someone because she sees a troubled look in their eyes? Wouldn’t most people run a mile?

But that’s the problem with Tess. She is sort of slow on the uptake. That’s the main problem I had with this book. OK, so I had a number of problems with this book, but I guess a suspense thriller never really works when the reader is one step ahead of the main player in the book at all times. Even though as a multi-layered mystery, this is well plotted, there are few surprises here.  Certain things about Greg are glaringly obvious to the reader for a long, long time before Tess picks up on them. Maybe she’s just blinded by love? I dunno, I never really bought into her relationship with Greg, so I’m not giving her a ‘still in the honeymoon phase’ pass here.

While The Other Child succeeds as an atmospheric read, it lacks tension, and for me was slow moving and repetitive throughout.  I love a good page-turner, but this wasn’t it - and it really needed more surprises.  I pretty much figured out early on what Tess continued to overlook throughout the book, and by the end I felt that things fell a little flat because I was constantly waiting for Tess to figure out what I already knew – I think a lot of readers will feel the same on this point. I also have to say something about the use of dialogue in this book: there are no dialogue tags whatsoever – no ‘he said’ ‘she said’ – nothing. This made for a disjointed and often confusing reading experience which I just didn’t find all that pleasurable.

The Other Child isn’t all bad. As I mentioned it is well-plotted, if somewhat predicable, and the dilemma Tess finds herself in will appeal to fans of slow-burn family-centric mysteries. As for me, though, I like my thrillers much faster paced and more twist-filled than this. And I’m not a fan of dumbed-down to ‘slow on the uptake’ characters for the sake of plot convenience.


Readalikes: Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse, A Trick of the Mind by Penny Hancock.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Cover Candy: Some Recent Cover Favourites!

It's true, I stalk cover reveals like it's nobody's business! 

What's your pick of this bunch of recent reveals?



When We Collided by Emery Lord || Release date: April 2016

Meet Vivi and Jonah: A girl and a boy whose love has the power save or destroy them.

Vivi and Jonah couldn't be more different. Vivi craves anything joyful or beautiful that life can offer. Jonah has been burdened by responsibility for his family ever since his father died. As summer begins, Jonah resigns himself to another season of getting by. Then Vivi arrives, and suddenly life seems brighter and better. Jonah is the perfect project for Vivi, and things finally feel right for Jonah. Their love is the answer to everything. But soon Vivi's zest for life falters, as her adventurousness becomes true danger-seeking. Jonah tries to keep her safe, but there's something important Vivi hasn't told him.

Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart and Jandy Nelson, When We Collided is a powerful story of two teens whose love is put to the test by forces beyond their control.


*****



 The Sister Pact by Stacie Ramey || Release date: November 2015

A suicide pact was supposed to keep them together, but a broken promise tore them apart

Allie is devastated when her sister Leah commits suicide—and not just because she misses her. The two teens made a suicide pact so that they'd always be together, and Allie can't understand why she was left behind.

Drugs seem to be the only thing that help Allie with her grief, and it just so happens that her dealer might be the only one who knows why Leah did what she did. As Allie struggles to uncover the truth, she must come to terms with the fact that she wasn't as close to her sister as she thought…and that some secrets are best left buried.

*****



First & Then by Emma Mills || Release date: October 2015

Devon Tennyson wouldn't change a thing. She's happy watching Friday night games from the bleachers, silently crushing on best friend Cas, and blissfully ignoring the future after high school. But the universe has other plans. It delivers Devon's cousin Foster, an unrepentant social outlier with a surprising talent for football, and the obnoxiously superior and maddeningly attractive star running back, Ezra, right where she doesn't want them first into her P.E. class and then into every other aspect of her life.

Pride and Prejudice meets Friday Night Lights in this contemporary novel about falling in love with the unexpected boy, with a new brother, and with yourself.


*****


In Real Life by Jessica Love || Release date: March 2016

Hannah Cho and Nick Cooper have been best friends since 8th grade. They talk for hours on the phone, regularly shower each other with presents, and know everything there is to know about one another.

There's just one problem: Hannah and Nick have never actually met.

Hannah has spent her entire life doing what she's supposed to, but when her senior year spring break plans get ruined by a rule-breaker, she decides to break a rule or two herself. She impulsively decides to road trip to Vegas, her older sister and BFF in tow, to surprise Nick and finally declare her more-than-friend feelings for him.

Hannah's romantic gesture backfires when she gets to Vegas and meets Nick's girlfriend, whom he failed to mention. And it turns out his relationship status isn't the only thing he's been lying to her about. Hannah knows the real Nick can't be that different from the online Nick she knows and loves, but now she only has one night in Sin City to figure out what her feelings for Nick really are, all while discovering how life can change when you break the rules every now and then.
 


*****


Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus|| Release date: Oct. 2015

A troubled teen, living in Paris, is torn between two boys, one of whom encourages her to embrace life, while the other—dark, dangerous, and attractive—urges her to embrace her fatal flaws.

Haunting and beautifully written, with a sharp and distinctive voice that could belong only to this character, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unforgettable young adult novel.

Summer Barnes just moved to Paris to repeat her senior year of high school. After being kicked out of four boarding schools, she has to get on track or she risks losing her hefty inheritance. Summer is convinced that meeting the right guy will solve everything. She meets two. Moony, a classmate, is recovering against all odds from a serious car accident, and he encourages Summer to embrace life despite how hard it can be to make it through even one day. But when Summer meets Kurt, a hot, mysterious older man who she just can't shake, he leads her through the creepy underbelly of the city-and way out of her depth.

When Summer's behavior manages to alienate everyone, even Moony, she's forced to decide if a life so difficult is worth living. With an ending that'll surprise even the most seasoned reader, Romancing the Dark in the City of Light is an unputdownable and utterly compelling novel.


*****


The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry || Release date: January 2016

Natalie Cleary must risk her future and leap blindly into a vast unknown for the chance to build a new world with the boy she loves. 

Natalie’s last summer in her small Kentucky hometown is off to a magical start…until she starts seeing the “wrong things.” They’re just momentary glimpses at first—her front door is red instead of its usual green, there’s a pre-school where the garden store should be. But then her whole town disappears for hours, fading away into rolling hills and grazing buffalo, and Nat knows something isn’t right.

That’s when she gets a visit from the kind but mysterious apparition she calls “Grandmother,” who tells her: “You have three months to save him.” The next night, under the stadium lights of the high school football field, she meets a beautiful boy named Beau, and it’s as if time just stops and nothing exists. Nothing, except Natalie and Beau.

Emily Henry’s stunning debut novel is Friday Night Lights meets The Time Traveler’s Wife, and perfectly captures those bittersweet months after high school, when we dream not only of the future, but of all the roads and paths we’ve left untaken.

*****



Take the Fall by Emily Hainsworth || Release date: Feb. 2016

WHO KILLED GRETCHEN MEYER?

Fear grips the residents of Hidden Falls the night Sonia Feldman and her best friend, Gretchen Meyer, are attacked in the woods. Sonia was lucky to escape with her life, but Gretchen’s body is discovered at the bottom of a waterfall. Beautiful, popular, and seemingly untouchable, Gretchen can’t be gone. Even as Sonia struggles with guilt and confusion over having survived, the whole town is looking to her for information…could she have seen something that will lead the police to the killer?

At the top of the list of suspects is Gretchen’s ex-boyfriend—and Sonia’s longtime enemy—Marcus Perez. So when Marcus comes to Sonia for help clearing his name, she agrees, hoping to find evidence the police need to prove he’s the killer. But as Gretchen’s many secrets emerge and the suspects add up, Sonia feels less sure of Marcus’s involvement, and more afraid for herself. Could Marcus, the artist, the screwup, the boy she might be falling for have attacked her? Killed her best friend? And if it wasn’t him in the woods that night…who could it have been?
 

*****


Loving the cover of the new Emery Lord! I have a cover crush on First & Then by Emma Mills and really can't wait to read that one due to my newly acquired obsession with Friday Night Lights!

 Let me know your faves!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Reviewed by Arianne: The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle.


Product details:
Publisher: Corgi Childrens.
Paperback, 288 pages.
Release date: July 2nd 2015.
Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Reviewed by: Arianne.

It's the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara's life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara's family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items - but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?


For fans of We Were Liars and The Sin Eater's Daughter, this is one book you’ll need to watch out for in 2015. Stylishly written, highly engaging and utterly captivating, The Accident Season heralds the arrival of one the most original and striking voices in YA fiction for decades.

Every October, seventeen-year-old Cara and her family – including her mother, older sister and ex-stepbrother - board up the windows, hide sharp implements and batten the hatches, because if something bad’s going to happen to them, it’s going to happen during the titular Accident Season. Throw in the mystery of a girl who shows up in all of their photographs, though nobody else seems to notice or even remember her, and The Accident Season sends chills down your spine from the very first page. 

The Accident Season is a shifting, shadowy tale which seems to hover in the border between reality and fantasy. It reads with the ease of a labyrinthine Tumblr or an abandoned places Instagram; flowing, illustrative, and telling more story in a single page than some authors do in a lifetime. The plot is exquisitely constructed, and often raises more questions than it answers. It’s full of tarot cards, masquerade balls, fortune-telling, dreams, hallucinations and hazy, intoxicating magic. As its secrets are revealed, it will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about this surreal storytelling world.

Fowley-Doyle seizes her chance to make use of legends and folklore, but never overplays her hand; she breaks free from tradition as much as she draws on it, and I loved it. The book is set in Ireland, and it could have easily seemed too Irish or cliché (thank you, any writer who’s ever written an Irish stereotype, for leaving me unable to read about Irish characters without wondering if a hardy, handsome, gruff émigré or maybe a green-eyed half-leprechaun teenage boy is about to come strolling around the corner). Yet The Accident Season and all its settings are cleverly written, very natural and hugely relatable. In avoiding the usual pitfalls of an Irish-set book and always taking the brave choice, Fowley-Doyle’s true talent may even lie in the way she skilfully appeals to an international audience. Her prose springs to life and dares you to hold on; she writes fearlessly, brimming with intellect and vivacity. 

The Accident Season is a quite a dark book, never far from themes of trauma and tragedy, so it’s not for younger readers (and I haven’t even mentioned the drinking, trespassing and truancy yet). For older YA readers, however, it’s a treasure trove; powerful, striking, and totally unnerving, it’s perfect if you’re looking for a very different kind of read to fill your summer with. For me, the only downside came with the characters. They’re well-drawn, but it’s difficult to connect with them in such a heady, ethereal atmosphere, and even more difficult to relate when so much of their decision-making is questionable at the very least. There’s a great LGBTQ+ storyline but unfortunately romance usually take a backseat to the spooky happenings of the plot. That said, when you’ve got so many mysteries to unravel, there’s always something to keep you reading. 

In short: The Accident Season is an absolute diamond of a book. Beautiful, enchanting and just a little dangerous, it holds an almost mythical power over the reader, drawing you in until you can’t look away. Deliciously dark and utterly spellbinding, this is a shimmering and unmissable début.


--Arianne.


Monday, 29 June 2015

Book Review: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han.


Product details:
Publisher: Simon & Schuster.
Hardcover, 337 pages.
Release date: May 26th 2015.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: 12+
Other Books in Series: To All the Boys I've Loved Before.
Source: Purchased.

 Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I've Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.


With To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Jenny Han truly hit the bookish jackpot. A slice of pure YA perfection with a great premise and cast of loveable, highly-relatable characters, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was the best book I read last year, and well deserving of the number one spot on my list of 2014 favourites. Now, the heroine of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Lara Jean Covey is back, and this time round things are about to get serious. Because Lara Jean is no longer the girl that plays it safe indulging in never-to-be-spoken-of crushes and faux-relationships with handsome boys. Nope, this time, Lara Jean is getting real. This time Lara Jean is playing the dangerous game of falling in love.

And, as anyone who has been in love knows, the highs are oh-so-great, but then sometimes things turn bad and you have to deal with soul crushing lows of  heartbreak too. Will it be all plain sailing for our cuter than cute couple? I hope so! But if Peter K’s very own first love, his scheming ex Genevieve has any say in the matter a plain-sailing relationship will exist only in Lara Jean’s dreams. That’s right, Genevieve is sticking around. She’s out for revenge, and she’s on a mission to bring Lara Jean down. We’re about to hit rough seas, folks!

First crushes don’t always translate into first loves, but that’s exactly where Lara Jean is at. She should really thank her interfering little sister Kitty for that!  We were all privy to Peter K and Lara Jean’s hot tub make-out session in To All the Boys I’ve Loved…and so it seems was a certain sneaky somebody else, when a  video of their hot tub session winds up on the internet and goes viral.  Who is behind this mean-spirited act? Lara Jean is quickly convinced that it’s Genevieve (of course it is!) but Peter isn’t so quick to condemn his ex, with whom he maintains a close relationship – much too close of a too-close relationship if you ask me, but then I’m not Lara Jean. I swear, I wanted to give Peter K a good talking to a times due to his behaviour in this book! But our girl is kind-hearted, level-headed and mature – and she doesn’t do jealousy – or at least she tries not to.

All the same, Genevieve’s continued presence in Peter’s life, his forever hanging out with her, his constant defending of her behaviour, drives a wedge between the lovebirds.  And when another very cute boy from Lara Jean’s past enters the picture, well, maybe Peter K can’t have it all his own way, and there just might be major trouble in store. Could it be that Lara Jean is all kinds of smitten with two boys at the same time?! Studious, wise beyond his years and oh-so-dreamy, John Ambrose McLaren, another recipient of one of Lara Jean’s infamous ‘crush’ letters seems to be the perfect fit for Lara Jean – and he’s a big fan of her baking to boot! Well, who isn’t?  Peter K might have captured your heart in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, but John Ambrose McLaren might test your love for him here.


Just like its predecessor P.S. I Still Love You is not just all about boys and crushes and kissing. Lara Jean’s family is back; Kitty, who is now proud mom to a puppy called Jamie Fox-Pickle, is on a mission to get their dad back in the dating game, and she is still Peter K’s biggest fan. All-knowing, all-seeing, always-interfering Kitty is a real favourite of mine, and I think she deserves her very own spin-off series of books. I’m pretty sure Kitty would be in total agreement with me on this. One person missing from this book is Josh, older sister Margot’s ex-boyfriend and Lara Jean’s one time crush, who is no longer a constant presence in Lara Jean’s life. At first I was surprised at Josh’s absence since he played such a big part in To All the Boys…but I guess it makes sense in a very true-to-life way that he’s not around as much in this book. As Lara Jean says, in one of my favourite quotes from this book, “People come in and out of your life. For a time they are your world; they are everything. And then one day they’re not. There’s no telling how long you will have them near.”

Jenny Han is the Queen of heart-warming, feel-good reads, and P.S. I Still Love You is certainly no exception to the rule. The storyline here may be a little less captivating than that of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, but with pitch-perfect prose and characters that will remain in your heart long after you’ve finished reading, this book is yet another winner from Han, who, in my mind, can pretty much do no wrong.

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