30 January 2018

Review: Ink by Alice Broadway

For twenty days I remained formless and void, until one day my mother said, “let her be Leora.”

And I was Leora. The word was punched with miniscule needles into my flesh. Tiny letters that have grown with me for sixteen years.

Every action, every deed, every significant moment is tattooed on your skin for ever.

When Leora's father dies, she is determined to see her father remembered forever. She knows he deserves to have all his tattoos removed and made into a Skin Book to stand as a record of his good life.

But when she discovers that his ink has been edited and his book is incomplete, she wonders whether she ever knew him at all.


Source: Purchase

5 Words: Family, secrets, stories, identity, truth.

Why did I leave this so long?

I was being recommended it left, right, and centre, and yet I still didn't pick it up. Someone gave me their copy, and I still didn't pick it up.

I think I was a little bit intimidated by the beautiful cover for this book. It's absolutely stunning, and it gave me Expectations.

It was January's Northern Book Blogger book so I picked it up. And wow.

Thankfully, Ink lived up to the cover. It was fantastic.

I loved the stories within the story, how some of them were instantly recognisable as tales we know, and some were unique to the world of Ink.

I loved the mystery of the story, the twists and turns as I read. I did find it a little easy to guess the big twist, but I didn't enjoy the story any less for it.

The concept of the story is unique, and it really got me thinking. I liked the exploration of religion and prejudice, the visibility of everyone's lives on their skin.


28 January 2018

Blog Tour: A Week To Be Wild by JC Harroway

A daring game of temptation

She’ll play his game-but only by her rules!

Alex Lancaster is an adrenaline junkie. He’s also a sexy British billionaire who should come with his own warning signs. When Libby insists she is done with men who live on the edge, Alex coaxes her out of her comfort zone-professionally and very, very personally. Libby’s taking a high-stakes gamble, but the pay-off could win her everything...


Source: Mills & Boon Insiders | NetGalley | Blog Tour

5 Words: Attraction, sexy, responsibility, charity, family.

This book is super steamy, sexy AF. It really is a scorcher.

I don't read a huge amount of romance. I used to refer to them as a guilty pleasure (never feel guilty!) and read them in secret and usually in a single sitting. This one I strung out over a few evenings as I didn't want the story to end, it's pure escapism in a contemporary setting.

One of my favourite things about this story was the boundaries set, the consent sought, the safe sex. THAT is what I want in my romance. It doesn't "ruin in mood". If anything it made it even hotter. I don't know about you, but someone who truly cares about what you want is definitely a turn on.

Yes, there are cliches. Some things are cliche for a reason, and this book works them fabulously.

I loved the story behind the romance too, how lust and that initial attraction was acknowledged, and how it only grew into something more when they knew each other a little better. Libby and Alex are fantastic characters, I loved the depth behind them.

If this is a sign of the Dare books to come, then sign me up.

26 January 2018

Blog Tour: The Girl Before by JP Delaney

Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.

The request seems odd, even intrusive - and for the two women who answer, the consequences are devastating.

Emma

Reeling from a traumatic break-in, Emma wants a new place to live. But none of the apartments she sees are affordable or feel safe. Until One Folgate Street. The house is an architectural masterpiece: a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant - and it does.

Jane

After a personal tragedy, Jane needs a fresh start. When she finds One Folgate Street, she is instantly drawn to the space - and to its aloof but seductive creator. Moving in, Jane soon learns about the untimely death of the home's previous tenant, a woman similar to Jane in age and appearance. As Jane tries to untangle truth from lies, she unwittingly follows the same patterns, makes the same choices, crosses paths with the same people, and experiences the same terror as the girl before.


Source: Blog Tour

5 Words: Attraction, obsession, love, death, secrets.

This story is quite dark and brooding, and a little chilling, in part due to the mental health of the alternate narrators, and exasperated by the stark setting.

I liked how none of the narrators were reliable. They had their own agendas. This did mean it was difficult to get behind them, but it made the mystery more compelling. Although I didn't like them, I needed to know their stories.

That house though? It sounds amazing. It felt like a character itself. And a bit Black Mirror-ish.

There was a lot of sex in this book, and it did feel quite out of place with the rest of the story. I get that the relationships between the "girls" and Monkford were the major plot point, but such graphic descriptions weren't quite necessary.

The twist in this story completely blindsided me, I was not expecting it at all. That's not something that happens often, so for this the book really stands out.

24 January 2018

Blog Tour: Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated - and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town's lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she's a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets - chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter... 


You can read my thoughts on the sampler here, and below I get to ask Marieke Nijkamp a question about her own reading habits...

Before I Let Go is your second YA novel. 
Which contemporaries do you like to read?

Oh, all sorts! I love reading thrillers, unsurprisingly. But I also love humour and romance. I love slice-of-life stories and stories that take place within minutes.

  • I love the pure magic of Anne-Marie McLemore’s words. Seriously, it may not technically count as contemporary, but Before I Let Go doesn’t entirely either. Just read everything she’s ever written.

Head on over to Twitter where I have a UK giveaway to win a copy of Before I Let Go.



22 January 2018

Blog Tour: A Year at Meadowbrook Manor by Faith Bleasdale

One divided family, one life-changing year...

Harriet Singer hasn’t been home in ten years. When her beloved dad dies suddenly, she races to be there for her estranged siblings, despite the memories it brings back.

Then Harriet learns that all four Singer siblings must live together for one year, caring for their dad’s Animal Sanctuary, or forfeit their inheritance.

Living under the same roof could make or break the family, but it’s time Harriet stopped running and faced her past. Especially when her first love turns up...

A heart-warming story about love, hope and family, perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley and Heidi Swain.


Source: Blog Tour

5 Words: Family, grief, obligation, attraction, change. 

A Year At Meadowbrook Manor was a lovely way to start 2018. 

This book really has the feel-good factor, even if it does start off shrouded in grief. I loved the family dynamics, how even from beyond the grave the Singer siblings were almost taunted by their father. He seems almost as much of a wind up as my own dad.

Even people who weren't part of the family by blood were counted as part of the family. Gwen was so lovely, a real matriarch even if she was technically staff. The added complications of attraction and romance were a nice interjection to the family drama. I couldn't help but root for the couple.

If I could visit Meadowbrook Manor, I would in a heartbeat. It is not only a beautiful setting, but the sense of family, community, and love is prevalent in every description. It's a family home, and I loved the nostalgia that Harriet felt. The animal sanctuary I thought was a unique touch, you can't go wrong adding some floof to a story.

This book is a perfect pick me up, something to keep you warm on cold days and night.


18 January 2018

Would You Survive in the World of Your Favourite Book?

Inspired by The Fandom by Anna Day, I decided to sit down with my favourite books and figure out whether or not I'd make it if I was transported into that book's canon. At first I was filled with giddy excitement - who wouldn't want to visit the world of their favourite book? But as I started seriously considering it, I realised it wouldn't be a walk in the park.

I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith

I would be cold, I would be hungry, and I would miss social media, but I think I'd survive. Heck, I think I'd probably be a bit of a better person for it. I'm not sure where I'd fit in when it comes to canon, the story is pretty contained with little of the outside world.

This is actually a place I dream of being, this is my all time favourite book and that draughty, half-ruined castle feels a little like home already.

Gilded Cage by Vic James

Knowing what I know of this world, I don't think I'd survive. If I was dropped into this terrifying alternate reality, I would probably leave my slave days as late as possible and try and get as much out of my life beforehand.

If I was dropped into a slavetown? I'd be a goner for sure! I can barely walk two miles some days as it is, I definitely couldn't cope with the labour required.

Shadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick

I'd like to say that I would, but in reality I probably wouldn't. They'd probably think I was a witch, and I'd likely starve or freeze to death.

This author's books have taught me a lot about life in medieval times, and my own mum's knowledge has taught me a little of foraging and natural remedies. But I'd probably end up killing off everyone with my icky modern germs.

Darkmere by Helen Maslin

I'd be absolutely terrified the whole time. While I'm relatively certain that I'd survive, it would depend on whether I was dropped into Kate or Elinor's timeline. In the modern day with Kate, I could probably hack it, but back with Elinor? Nope.

I'd love to explore Darkmere, though maybe not uncover the secrets.

Slated by Teri Terry

The prospect of being dropped into this world is making me rethink my decision to include it. Slated canon is chilling. The world is so similar to our own that I think I might be able to fake it, but also so shockingly different that I don't think I could hide that there was something not right.

If I had a choice I would like to be dropped in to the third book in the series and just live in the Lake District. And not be Slated.


What is your favourite book?
Do you think you would survive?


16 January 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #114

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Top TenBookish Resolutions/Goals.

I read some absolutely amazing books last year, and found some new auto-buy authors. Take a peek at my favourite new-to-me authors from last year.
  1. Put Money in the Jar
    Aoife at Pretty Purple Polka Dots posted about this last year, I jumped on it too and I saved £150. Yaay. So I'm doing it again this year, putting £1 in a jar for every book I finish.
  2. Read Less
    I'm putting less pressure on myself to read a huge amount, and so far I've actually read a lot more.
  3. Review Promptly
    I am terrible for shoving "Review to Come" as a placeholder on Goodreads and then never actually writing the review.
  4. Get my NetGalley Ratio Up
    I went super click-happy the first couple years I was on NetGalley much to the detriment of my ratio, and now I'm going to beat that backlist.
  5. Get on a Blogger/Reviewer List
    I would love to get on just one more blogger list this year. Greedy? Perhaps. But I'm only on four, and I'd love to think I was good enough for the big guys.
  6. Bookstagram More
    I settled on a fairy simple and vague theme for my Instagram in November. Basically everything is black and white.
  7. Apply to be a Rep
    I doubt it'll come to anything as my Insta isn't colourful flat lays like 99% of reps, but something different might stand out. Or so I tell myself.
  8. Read More Non-Fiction
    I want to push myself a little more outside of my comfort zone and read more non-fiction. I'm aiming for one a month.
  9. Listen More
    I'm going to listen to more audiobooks and really take advantage of my Audible subscription.
  10. Read Subscription Box Books
    I have been getting bookish subscription boxes for a while, but it usually takes me ages to read the book. I'm going to try and start as soon as possible after I receive the box in future.

What are your bookish goals for 2018?

13 January 2018

Blog Tour: The Extinction Trials by S.M. Wilson

Betrayal. Sacrifice. Survival.
Welcome to the Extinction Trials.

In Stormchaser and Lincoln's ruined world, the only way to survive is to risk everything. To face a contest more dangerous than anyone can imagine. And they will do anything to win.

But in a land full of monsters - human and reptilian - they can't afford to trust anyone. Perhaps not even each other...


Source: Review Consideration | Blog Tour

5 Words: Friendship, trust, family, betrayal, survival.

When I opened this book, I stepped into a different world. I could see it all play out before me as I read.

I loved both of the main characters, their motives and beliefs. But I think Storm just beat Lincoln in being my favourite. I loved the steady build up of trust and friendship between them, and how a romantic relationship wasn't overshadowing the story,

The writing is rich and vivid, the story intense and twisting. The pace of The Extinction Trials is just incredible. I couldn't stop madly turning the pages, wishing I could read faster to keep up. I couldn't help but rush through this, gripped by the story and the action.

I did find myself Googling a few of the dinosaurs as they were new to me (I've always been a strictly Triceratops kinda gal with little room for anything else) and it really brought forward the research that had been done.

I cannot wait for the next one!

As part of the blog tour, I got to ask the author one question. With the amazing world of The Extinction Trials, it was clear what I would ask...


What’s your favourite thing about the world you’ve created?
The whole continent of Piloria. The fact it’s virtually unexplored and full of lush plant life and a whole host of deadly dinosaurs – who wouldn’t want to go there!

If you've already read The Extinction Trials then sign up for the Usborne YA newsletter - next week there's going to be a sneak peek at book two. If you haven't read it then sign up anyway as there will be a chance to win a signed copy!


11 January 2018

Bad Girls with Perfect Faces by Lynn Weingarten


No one is good enough for Xavier. Not according to Sasha, his best friend. There's nothing Sasha wouldn't do to protect Xavier from getting hurt, especially by his cheating ex Ivy, who's suddenly slithered back into the picture. Worried that Xavier is ready to forgive and forget, Sasha decides to do a little catfishing. She poses as a hot guy online, to prove cheaters never change.

But Sasha's plan goes wrong fast, and soon the lies lead down a path from which there's no return... 


Source: NetGalley Request

5 Words: Friendship, love, manipulation, secrets, lies.

When I picked this up, I have to confess I was expecting something a little Pretty Little Liars ish. Something mostly light, with a slight attempt at darkness. Something that I could easily predict. I was wrong.

Bad Girls With Perfect Faces is twisted and twisting. Just as I thought I had it figured out, I'd turn the page and be wrong. So wrong. It's like the writing was set up to make me think it was going to be a predictable cliche. After a slow start, all of a sudden it changed. I never felt at ease reading this story, I knew that whenever I felt I'd figured it all out that I'd be tripped up.

The story is gripping and addictive. It actually surprised me. 

Make no mistake, this book is DARK. I loved the intoxicating toxicity of the relationships, the complexity of the plot, the steady drip of the truth between the split narrative. Although it took a small while to get going, I could not put it down.

The writing itself I thought was fantastic - even the writing style changes with the characters as the story progresses.

07 January 2018

Blog Tour: Games With The Dead by James Nally

Irish runaway. Insomniac. Functioning alcoholic.

Life is about to get complicated for DC Donal Lynch.

When a young woman is kidnapped, Donal is brought in to deliver the ransom money. But the tightly-planned drop off goes wrong, Julie Draper is discovered dead, and Donal finds his job on the line – a scapegoat for the officers in charge.

But when Donal is delivered a cryptic message in the night, he learns that Julie was killed long before the botched rescue mission. As he digs further into the murder in a bid to clear his own name, dark revelations make one thing certain: the police are chasing the wrong man, and the killer has far more blood on his hands than they could even imagine.


Source: Blog Tour | Review Consideration

5 Words: Crime, murder, family, betrayal, mystery.

From the first lines, I was hooked.

I loved the pace, and the writing was quite snappy. I liked the wry observations of Donal's surroundings, the added humour that stopped the story being too dark. The plot was more complicated than I had anticipated, and I really had to think about this one.

I liked the touch of the unnatural, Donal's visions, and how they weren't straight forward so he had to work them out. And I love that he was affected by them, that his weird and graphic visions were an ingrained part of his character.

Although this is the third book in the series, I found it very easy to read as a standalone. The lack of my having read the previous books didn't detract from my reading experience, but I will definitely read more. And as the cover says, perfect for fans of James Oswald.

05 January 2018

Book Beginnings #57

For Book Beginnings, Rose City Reader invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.

For Friday 56, Freda's Voice asks you to turn to Page 56 in your book or 56% on your e-reader and pick a sentence.

I am currently reading Games with the Dead by James Nally.
We all know Julie Draper now. Her twenty-four-years-old, shyly smiling face is everywhere. Can it really be just nine days since she rushed out of her estate agent's office in south London to show a client around a house, only to vanish into thin air? The hunt for Julie Draper goes on. Only two people know she's already dead. The man who killer her. 
And me. 
How intense? I was really in the mood for something a bit darker and more gritty when I picked this up, and I wasn't disappointed. This is the third book in the series but I'm hoping as with most crime/mystery/thrillers it can be dipped in and out of and read out of order.
I walk into our bedroom. She's a snoring bed lump. A human landslide. It is 11pm after all.
I'm actually almost finished, so I know what was going on on page 56. I actually really love this little snippet, I think it captures the emotions of the moment in the story really well. The familiarity and the building anger.

This book is fully living up to my expectations. I don't feel lost having not read the previous two books, but I am enjoying this one so much that I will go back and read them both.

Check back on Sunday for my full review.


What are you reading this week?

04 January 2018

Review: The Fandom by Anna Day

Cosplay ready, Violet and her friends are at Comic-Con.

They can’t wait to meet the fandom of mega movie, The Gallows Dance. What they’re not expecting is to be catapulted by freak accident into their favourite world – for real. Fuelled by love, guilt and fear, can the friends put the plot back on track and get out? The fate of the story is in their hands ...

A fast-paced, genre-flipping YA fantasy adventure from a brand new author, writing in homage to the best YA fiction.


Source: YALC

5 Words: Fandom, danger, love, betrayal, friendship.

Oh man. I love books about fandoms. I love the giddy excitement, getting swept away by the enthusiasm and love.

When I read, I tend to spend a portion of my time imagining that I am in the story with the characters. But let's be honest, would you really want to find yourself in the books you read?

As Violet and her friends discover, this isn't always a good thing. They have disrupted the canon of the world they have found themselves in, and they have to find a way to fix it to get home. Dilemmas and confusion and drama ensue (and it's excellent). 

I loved the mix of worlds. There was the real world, with familiar references and sights and smells. And then BOOM you're in The Gallows Dance. I liked how the world was explored through Violet and the differences she saw between the film and canon. The sights and smells came to life on the page, I was experiencing them with Violet.

I kinda really want to read the actual The Gallows Dance story now. And I need more of THIS story.


02 January 2018

Top Ten Tuesday #113

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and is a chance for everyone to get to know fellow bloggers and share lists. I love lists. Every week is a different list.

This week is Top Ten New-To-Me Authors We Read In 2017.

I read some absolutely amazing books last year, and found some new auto-buy authors. Take a peek at my favourite new-to-me authors from last year.
  1. Katherine Webber
  2. Maria Turtschaninoff
  3. Rebecca Denton
  4. Emily Barr
  5. Renee Ahdieh
  6. Karen Gregory
  7. MA Bennett
  8. David Owen
  9. Jennifer Mathieu
  10. Julie C. Dao

Who did you discover in 2017?

01 January 2018

My 2018 Goals

My goals are small and vague and I'm taking it easy. None of this losing weight or getting fit or saving money, because I need to focus on what will benefit me most and those things won't really help me right now.

Read Fewer Books

I can't read as much as I used to and it was crushing me, so I'm going to completely change the way I approach reading.

It used to be that I would have a book open every spare second, I'd be constantly reading. My brain just doesn't let me do that any more so I'm going to read less, DNF sooner, and let myself just chill and stare out of the window instead.

Listen to More Audiobooks

As I can't read so much, and I cannot bear the thought of not being lost in a story, I'm going to listen to more audiobooks. I'm going to aim for two each month, one from my Audible credit and the other from a daily deal.

I struggle listening to audiobooks at less than 2x speed, and because the players the libraries don't have playback option, I'm screwed on that front. I wish there was a NetGalley for audiobooks.

Keep a Bullet Journal

I've been kind of messing around with different ideas and spreads since November, but I got a pretty new notebook and now I'm going to go for it.

My first attempts were pretty minimalist, but as you can see above I'm playing around with doodles and I've settled on a pretty natural theme with lots of flowers and plants.

Sleep More

I am terrible for sleeping for six hours or less each night, I just get caught up in whatever I'm doing and whoops it's after midnight. This exacerbates any fatigue I'm experiencing. I'm going to track my sleep and try to turn off screens by nine so I can settle down and get to sleep.

I figure that if I'm writing it down I can see more clearly why I sleep so little, what causes it, and whether it really does affect my fatigue and any other things like muscle spasms.

Experience More Culture

I used to visit art galleries and museums almost daily. I studied photography at a college next to a contemporary art gallery so every lunch time I'd just go and walk around an exhibition with my sandwich. After I left college, I pretty much stopped going to galleries.

After reading Following Ophelia by Sophia Bennett last year, my love of art sparked back in to life. I love how at peace I feel in a gallery or museum, so I'm going to set aside specific time for it each month.

Are you setting yourself any goals or resolutions this year?