18 July 2019

Book Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

I got A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer in February's Fairyloot box with a Beauty and the Beast theme, and I was pretty excited - it's a gorgeous book and I'm a sucker for re-tellings, especially of my favourite fairy tale.

I read this for #OWLsJuly2019.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer coverAdd to Goodreads button
Fall in love, break the curse. 

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she's instead somehow sucked into Rhen's cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom. 

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn't know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what's at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall... and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin. 

Source: Purchase, Fairyloot Subscription

5 Words: Family, survival, strength, power, love.

When you're reading a retelling you pretty much know what you're in for - you know where the story is going to go. Or so I thought, before I read A Curse So Dark And Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. Because this book was full of unexpected takes on the traditional tale. And I loved it.

I loved the back and forth between the worlds, how it brought the differences into even starker contrast. I loved the difference in danger, the meaning of words and actions.

I think one of my favourite things about this book was Harper. She's a delight to read. I loved her tenacity, her drive, the way she worked towards her purpose but was still so unselfish. She is generous and kind and such a Hufflepuff, I loved her. Harper has cerebral palsy, but it doesn't define her, and I loved how she called out anyone who assumed she was weak because of her disability. YES, YOU GO GIRL. It definitely does not define her.

A Curse So Dark And Lonely is beautifully written. I picked out so many quotes while I was reading, and I pretty much want all of them as prints. I loved the pace, the slow release of secrets, the slow burn romance building in the background, the intense ending. But this book isn't just romance - it's political intrigue and magic and danger. And it's an addictive read, I couldn't put it down.

I'd recommend A Curse So Dark And Lonely to anyone who enjoys fantasy books, and I can't wait to read more of Brigid Kemmerer's books, and to read on in this fantasy series.

I am always surprised to discover that when the world seems darkest, there exists the greatest opportunity for light.

13 July 2019

Book Review: When I Lost You by Merilyn Davies *AD Gifted

Arrow sent me a free review copy of When I Lost You by Merilyn Davies ahead of the blog tour.

When I Lost You by Merilyn Davies coverAdd to Goodreads button
When a young couple are the lead suspects for the murder of their only child, Crime Analyst Carla Brown and DS Nell Jackson are assigned to investigate.

The evidence seems conclusive, but something just doesn’t feel right.

The case is quickly cast into doubt when the lead forensic pathologist starts receiving threatening letters – containing details only the police should know.

Who’s sending them? What do they want? And how did they get hold of the information?

As Carla and Nell dig deeper, it soon becomes clear that this case isn’t the first of its kind.

They must stop at nothing to find the truth – even if it hits close to home.

5 Words: Mystery, blame, conflict, murder, abuse.

Content warnings: Infant death, child abuse, graphic descriptions of crime scenes.

I feel that a lot of the author's own experiences as a crime analyst with the Met feeds a lot into the book - it feels like a completely authentic look at the job, full of first person research. It really comes across in the writing and it's fascinating. And definitely not a job that I could do.

When I Lost You is a bit police-procedural, a bit twisting thriller, and wholly addictive. It's gritty and harsh, but at the same time - and despite the content - it's sensitively told.

I did find the split timeline a little confusing at first, but I quickly got used to it and couldn't put the book down. It's a pretty compelling read, and even if I did guess the mystery it was still a bit fun and a satisfying whodunit, and I didn't see every twist coming.

I loved how When I Lost You ended, I felt like the ending was a fantastic way to bring everything together. I really hope that this is the beginning of a series, as I feel like there is a lot of scope for the stories of Carla and Nell to continue. And I feel like it would be an excellent TV series.

11 July 2019

Book Review: Lily's Just Fine by Gill Stewart *AD Gifted

Sweet Cherry Publishing sent me a free electronic review copy of Lily's Just Fine by Gill Stewart via NetGalley.

Lily's Just Fine is a perfect read for summer, full of passion and drive and a wee bit of romance. I loved it.

Lily's Just Fine by Gill Stewart coverAdd to Goodreads button
Lily couldn’t have planned life better herself. She lives in the best house in town and she’s dating the most popular boy in school. Everything else she can fix. Mum’s apathy? On it! The stuffy gala committee? Watch this space! 

Tom has enough on his plate without trying to drag Newton St Cuthbert into the 21st Century. His sister is sick and there’s nothing anyone can do. Not doctors, not his parents, and certainly not Lily Hildebrand.

Sail away this summer with the unexpected romance of Scotland's most determined teenager.

Perfect for fans of emotive YA stories. 


5 Words: Summer, friendship, attraction, control, inclusion.

Content warnings: Depression, anxiety, homophobia.

This book was all at once fun fluff and serious issues - and I loved it.

At times Lily can be a rather difficult characters. I definitely didn't always a agree with her, she can be rather selfish and single minded, but she grows and changes. When she learns something, she adjust to it. She is pretty damn firey, but she can also empathise with others. And become a bit too caught up in fighting for what she thinks is right, even if it might harm people.

I loved the LGBT+ themes, the way mental health was explored, how changing family dynamics were picked apart. I loved how a side character had chronic fatigue syndrome, the gripes about chronic illnesses and how even now so little is known about it. I also loved the soft, slowly building romance.

Unusually, the setting is a seaside town in Scotland. It had some colloquialisms, I felt that the voices were authentic, and it was a bit of a joy to read. I felt like the accent came through in the writing.

Lily's Just Fine is perhaps a little bit of an issue book, but that's not the whole of it. I found the story perfectly balanced, with enough drive from the characters themselves (rather than their issues) to keep me reading.

This book is perfect for summer, and I'd definitely recommend. I can't wait read more of the Galloway Girls series!

09 July 2019

Ten Thoughts While Reading Come Back For Me by Heidi Perks

Arrow Publishing sent me a free review copy of Come Back For Me by Heidi Perks ahead of the blog tour.

Once I started reading it, I couldn't put Come Back For Me by Heidi Perks down. It's a story packed with mysteries and secrets and lies, all wrapped up in an increasingly tense community. A Compelling thriller that I couldn't put down.

Come Back For Me by Heidi Perks coverAdd to Goodreads button
A shocking discovery.
An island wrapped in secrets.

A tiny island community is stunned by the discovery of a long-buried body.

For Stella Harvey the news is doubly shocking. The body has been found in the garden of her childhood home - the home her family fled without explanation twenty-five years ago.

Now, questioning her past and desperate to unearth the truth, Stella returns to the isolated island. But she quickly finds that the community she left isn’t as welcoming as she remembers – and that people in it will go to any length to protect their secrets.

One thing rings true…
You can’t bury the truth forever.

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.

Top Ten Tuesday
This week is Top Ten 
Character Freebie 
Ten Thoughts While Reading Come Back For Me by Heidi Perks
This was supposed to be a Character Freebie, but I decided instead to do ten thoughts I had while reading Come Back For Me by Heidi Parks. Because I had A LOT of thoughts while I was reading, and it was a book that kept surprising me
  1. This cover is gorgeous, I love the shades and the contrast, the way the red pops. Interesting tag line too We all have something to hide.
  2. A MAP! There is a map! I love maps! Cute island. I think I'd like to live on an island, although this one is SMALL.
  3. Stella is very smart, isn't she? But I wonder what her motives are and what she's hiding, why she made such a drastic change in her life.
  4. Oooh here come the secrets and lies! I am so unsure of who to trust right now, I love an unreliable narrator, and Stella's compartmentalising, and her age at the time, means she is definitely unreliable.
  5. OK so maybe this island isn't as nice as I thought? I think I'd still like to visit though, it sounds a wee bit idyllic, despite the body.
  6. I did NOT see that coming! Poor Stella, she must be heart broken. But now who is it..? Honestly thought that's who it was.
  7. OK so I kind of saw that one coming, especially with the focus the narrative was taking. But still. A wee bit shocked at the reveal.
  8. I don't believe this is the truth, I think there are still lots of secrets and lies and things that need to come to light.
  9. WELL I certainly had suspicions but I wasn't expecting that! What a twist.
  10. Right, what other books has this author written? I need them now!
Come Back For Me by Heidi Perks blog tour banner

07 July 2019

Book Review: Needlemouse by Jane O’Connor *AD - Gifted

Ebury Press sent me a free review copy of Needlemouse by Jane O’Connor.

After a bit of a rocky start Needlemouse ended up being a charming story of discovery, and I loved the journey that Sylvia took throughout the pages. It's character driven story perfect for long summer evenings.

Needlemouse by Jane O’Connor coverAdd to Goodreads
Time to come out of hibernation...

Sylvia Penton has been hibernating for years, it's no wonder she's a little prickly...

Sylvia lives alone, dedicating herself to her job at the local university. On weekends, she helps out at a local hedgehog sanctuary because it gives her something to talk about on Mondays - and it makes people think she's nicer than she is.

Only Sylvia has a secret: she's been in love with her boss, Professor Lomax, for over a decade now, and she's sure he's just waiting for the right time to leave his wife. Meanwhile she stores every crumb of his affection and covertly makes trouble for anyone she feels gets in his way.

But when a bright new PhD candidate catches the Professor’s eye, Sylvia’s dreams of the fairy tale ending she has craved for so long, are soon in tatters, driving her to increasingly desperate measures and an uncertain future.

Sylvia might have been sleep walking through her life but things are about to change now she’s woken up…

Source: Review copy

5 Words: Family, obsession, jealousy, love, hedgehogs.

Needlemouse is definitely a character driven novel, and it's one of those where nothing really happens when it comes to action, but by the end you've taken quite a journey in terms of growth. It's got a pretty slow pace, but nevertheless I couldn't stop reading.

I found Needlemouse quite a difficult book to get in to, and this was down to the main character,  Sylvia. She's rather bitter and disagreeable, and generally just not a nice person. She's pretty much a straight up bitch for the first half of the book. She's also more than a little bit obsessed with the Prof and it made me feel quite awkward to read at first. Sylvia has a lot of internalised misogyny that made for uncomfortable reading at times, but it made the character seem much more believable and gave added weight to why she was the way she was.

It's a testament to the author's writing that I not only kept reading, but I actually grew to love Sylvia by the end. She has hidden depths and I loved how it all came together. Needlemouse ended up being quite a charming read.

I really loved how I learned a fair bit about hedgehogs while reading this book. A lot of research has obviously gone in to it, and it didn't feel like the author was showing off - what I learned through the characters actions felt very natural.

06 July 2019

My Favourite UKYA Moments

I couldn't tell you when I first became aware of the UKYA community being a thing, but I do know that I have loved every moment being part of it.

Here are some of my favourite moments...

YALC 2018
Me at YALC 2018.

Seeing my favourites win awards at UKYABA

I've been lucky enough to be able to attend the UKYA Blogger Awards presentation twice now, and both times I've had a wee cry seeing people I admire and consider friends in the UKYA community win awards. Everyone is so amazing and supportive, and I love being part of that joy.

I love getting to nominate the people I admire and always do a squeak of "yay!" when the nominations are announced and I see so many familiar names. My fingers are crossed for everyone shortlisted this year.

SundayYA Chat

I have met some of the very best people through this chat, and they're not just there to talk books (although we talk a lot about books). Some of them have become real life friends and we meet up for book events and signings and sometimes just a drink and a natter.

But that chat itself inspired so many debates and blog posts and I added so many books to my TBR. It's how I discovered Vic James in the debuts chat, immediately pre-ordering Gilded Cage and finding a new favourite. It's how I got to host my own book club chat and talk about a book I loved with lots of people.

You're Cora from Twitter!

The first time this happened was at YA Shot in 2016, and I was stunned. People recognised me, and I recognised other people, from those tiny little Twitter icons. I got to meet people that I talked to online almost every day, we got to talk about books in real life, not just online.

I like how now at book events I'm not alone (hello, first YALC, you were scary) and that I know so many people that I can chat to. I also love how everyone is accepting of anxiety and the need for space, and asking before jumping in for a hug.

Making Vic James cry

This sounds worse than it is, honest. Basically, I when I love a book I read it to death. I read it multiple times, I fold down pages, I annotate. It spends that long in my bag as I cart it around for rereading that the cover gets ripped and the page edges get smushed. ANYWAY. The first time I made Vic James cry was at YA Shot when she saw the state of my book - but it was happy tears! She said she loved that it'd been read to death and she scoured the annotations to see what I'd marked out and made notes on. At YALC later in the year I spent some time with her after her signing, she got to have a look at my scribbles in Tarnished City, and she circled the pages she wanted to see my reactions on in Bright Ruin.

Making Tanya Byrne and Eleanor Woods cackle

I absolutely loved Floored so it was one of the books I annotated. Unfortunately I didn't much like one of the characters, Hugo, so when he came up there were a lot of snarky notes. At YALC last year I took my copy along to get it signed, and the authors got to have a flick through and see what I wrote about the characters. Every time I think about "GET IN THE BIN HUGO" I smile and remember the laughter that particular annotation brought up.

Bookish Events

I love meeting people and authors at events, getting to celebrate our love of books. Authors and readers get to interact, fangirl, share the love. Sometimes there are freebies, sometimes there is cake, every so often there's a wee drink.

I loved how at UKYACX I was sat right next to Sally Nicholls, after YA Shot I had a drink with Sarah Baker, after UKYABA Will Hill joined us celebrating our friend's successes, whenever I see Eleanor Wood at an event she jumps up and gives me a hug. I just love how authors are part of the community too.

I also love how I can meet the publicists I email and tweet so often, can thank them to their faces for their hard work and fangirl over the titles they've arranged blog tours for.

What are your favourite UKYA moments?

04 July 2019

Q&A With Sif Sigmarsdóttir

When I read The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir I knew I had read something special, and the first thing I did when I finished it was reach out and ask if I could do a Q&A... And here we go!

This is probably one of my favourite Q&As ever, I think I've read it myself around five times already. Sif gives wonderful and interesting answers that provide a bit of insight into the characters and story in The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake.

Q&A with Sif Sigmarsdóttir

Can you describe The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake in five words?
YA Nordic noir feminist thriller

What inspired you to write the The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake, especially with such emphasis on the influence of social media?
I’m fascinated with social media and how it’s changing the world. Some people say it’s all bad, others say it’s all good. But I think it’s somewhere in-between.

The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake is inspired by two real life examples of how social media is being used – one for bad and one for good:

In 2018 the journalist Carole Cadwalladr revealed that a British company called Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their consent and used it to influence elections. It was a scandal that made us all think seriously about how our personal data can be abused. (In The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake a pharmaceutical company uses stolen data to target ads for slimming pills at vulnerable young girls.)

Around the same time the #metoo movement was gaining momentum. In 2018 the actress and activist Rose McGowan released her captivating book Brave in which she exposed the predatory misogyny within the film industry and told of how the most influential man in Hollywood sexually assaulted her. The #metoo movement, which has sparked positive change in attitudes towards women, relies heavily on the power of social media. 

Which of your characters would you most like to sit down and have a cuppa with?
Oooh! That’s a tough one. There are two strong female heroines in The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake and I love them both equally.

I would love to sit down with the glamorous and mysterious Imogen Collins who is a marketing executive by day and social media influencer by night (and maybe also a murderer).

But I grew up reading – and loving – the Nancy Drew books. So, I will have to go for my amateur sleuth, the half Icelandic, Hannah Eiríksdóttir, who gets a job as a journalist – and the task of finding out whether Imogen Collins is guilty of murder or not.

I’d take Hannah out for a cold coffee which is to me the elixir of life and source of creativity.

Do you think that you would be able to survive in the world of your book?
The word “snowflake” in the title refers both to literal snowflakes and the word’s more recent adoption as a derogatory term used to describe a particular generation.

I feel that the snowflake generation, and just young people in general get far too much flak. They’ve become punching bags for older generations who are desperate to prove their moral superiority and justify their economic advantage by putting the young down.

I’m not sure how I’d cope – but I think that young people today, like the climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg, are doing a fabulous job of showing us who’s right and who’s wrong. 

Are you a planner or a pantser?
I always say that I don’t believe in inspiration; I believe in perspiration. I believe that it’s important to be organised and sit down every day and write, whether you feel up to it or not. So, my best writing skill is my tough bottom. I do consider myself a planner.

But I do think the pantser in me is also important. Because sitting down at the computer isn’t actually the only part of the writing process. It’s what happens in-between that sometimes is the key. Most of my ideas come when I’m not sitting at the computer, when I’m not technically at work. I get ideas, I get inspired, when I’m taking a walk, going to the store, making dinner, on the loo, in the shower… So, my books come to life subconsciously while I’m doing other things.

What is your favourite thing about writing?
The endorphin kick I get when I’ve written a paragraph that I’m pleased with. It’s like the rush you get from bungee jumping or swimming with sharks (or so I imagine – I’ve done neither … writing is as close to an extreme sport I’m willing to go).

Finally, what are you working on now? What can we expect from you in the future?
That’s the million-dollar question. I’m not sure if many writers are willing to admit to this (they probably fear that it will make them sound like ungrateful pricks), but having your book published can be extremely depressing. Yes, you’ve achieved your dream. But then what?

You’ve spent years writing a book, obsessing about it, thinking about it night and day. Publication day arrives. It’s a massive high. It’s all about you, your creation, your precious offspring which is now out there in the world for all to see. But then comes a new day. Your life doesn’t change when your book is published. The pile of dirty laundry is still there. A crowd of adoring fans doesn’t magically appear outside your house with home-made cookies and cold coffee to encourage you on and keep you fed and happy while you work on your next masterpiece. It’s like you’ve climbed up a steep mountain, got to the top, and then rolled back down again. You’re back to square one.

But saying that, being a writer is the best job in the world. (Sorry for the mixed messages, folks.) I’m definitely climbing up that mountain again. While writing The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake I fell in love with the characters of Hannah and Imogen so at the moment I’m planning a new adventure for them. So, stay tuned.

02 July 2019

Ten Childhood Favourites

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.

Top Ten Tuesday
This week is Top Ten 
Childhood Favourites
What were your favourite books as a kid?

30 June 2019

Book Review: Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young *AD Gifted

Simon and Schuster Children's Books sent me a free electronic review copy of Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young via NetGalley.

When I first heard about Girls with Sharp Sticks I knew I wanted to read it - it has a few of my catnip tropes. Once my NetGalley wish was granted, I was excited to pick it up. And once I started reading, I was not disappointed.

Girls with Sharp Sticks by Suzanne Young coverAdd to Goodreads button
The Girls of Innovations Academy are beautiful and well-behaved - it says so on their report cards. Under the watchful gaze of their Guardians, the all-girl boarding school offers an array of studies and activities, from “Growing a Beautiful and Prosperous Garden” to “Art Appreciation” and “Interior Design.” The girls learn to be the best society has to offer. Absent is the difficult math coursework, or the unnecessary sciences or current events. They are obedient young ladies, free from arrogance or defiance.

Until Mena starts to realize that their carefully controlled existence may not be quite as it appears.

As Mena and her friends begin to uncover the dark secrets of what’s actually happening there - and who they really are - the girls of Innovations will find out what they are truly capable of. Because some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns.

Amazon UK | Amazon US

5 Words: Control, manipulation, perfection, rebellion, life.

Content warnings: physical abuse, graphic violence, murder, PTSD, infertility, mental abuse and manipulation.

I have to admit that when I first picked up Girls with Sharp Sticks I had Expectations. It was promising to bring together some of my favoruite things: a boarding school setting, feminist themes, dystopian storyline. And this book blew my expectations out of the water.

Parts of this story had my toes curling. Parts of this story are terrifying. Parts of it broke my heart. And all of this is because of how scarily plausible the whole thing is. It's disturbing and compelling and I couldn't help but be fascinated by the world.

Mena was an excellent character - unreliable at times for Reasons, but a character who I loved reading about. I was rooting for her the whole time.

I really loved the questions this book posed about ownership, perfection, ethics, the standards people are held to, sexism... It's a bit of an issue book, all wrapped up in a gripping story.

I don't want to spoil the book, because you HAVE TO READ IT, but there was a twist that absolutely flabbergasting. This book kept me guessing. Once I got to the end the whole story felt different, and I know that when I reread it (and I will reread it) I'll see things in a new light and pick up on the clues that I may have missed.

So stop sleeping on this book. Go out and Read It because I need more people to talk about it with.

I'm starting to see how unusual our lives are here. And the more I recognize it... the more I want to change it.

28 June 2019

Book Beginnings #73

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 Needlemouse by Jane O'Connor.

Needlemouse by Jane O'Connor cover

I look forward to this day all year. Not because I enjoy getting older (heaven's no), but because Prof takes me out somewhere special for lunch on my birthday, just the two of us.
This book doesn't actually start with this line. It starts with an excerpt of information about the European Hedgehog, which was very fascinating and written by one of the characters in the book, but I wanted more of a feel for the writing so my first line is from the first chapter instead. Is this cheating?

I like that I'm learning a bit even from the start, although the thought of hedgehogs cooked in clay made me feel a little bit queasy. I think I'll enjoy the writing as I read.

I am starting this book as I type so anything more is a mystery to me. I hope I enjoy it.

He had a beautiful face for a man of his age. A face that spoke of a life filled with laughter and warmth and adventure, of summers on the beach and winters skiing down mountains.
This part from page 56 is giving me romance vibes, so I'm going to cross my fingers now. I'm in the mood for a romance! I jabbed my finger randomly at the page to pick out this quote so that I could avoid spoilers, but it also means that I have no context. Still, romance vibes.

What are you reading this week?

27 June 2019

Book Review: The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir *AD Gifted

BKMRK sent me a free review copy of The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir

I knew nothing about The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir when I first picked it up, except that it was going to be a pretty dark mystery. I was definitely not disappointed by the story I read, and I absolutely loved it.

The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir coverAdd to Goodreads button
The snow is falling thick and fast now. Snow in Iceland is dangerous.

Hannah Eiríksdóttir has been banished from her home in London to a place of eternal punishment for the wicked. No, not Hell, but close: Iceland. There, she faces a new life working as a journalist for her father's newspaper - a man she barely knows.

Imogen Collins has the perfect life as a social media influencer, showing off her glamorous London existence to adoring fans. But behind the filters lies a dark secret. She thought she'd buried it: But the Beast is back - a ghost from her past who's threatening to ruin her future.

When a man is found murdered at the edge of the road in snowy Iceland the girls' lives collide. Imogen had the motive. Can Hannah find out the truth, and discover the reality of the girl beneath the filters?

Behind perfection often lies unbearable ugliness.

5 Words: Family, secrets, conspiracy, influence, belonging.

Content Warnings: Sexual assault.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I first picked up The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir. All I knew was that I was picking up a Nordic mystery with a stunning cover.

Once I started reading The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake I couldn't put it down. I loved this book and I loved the characters. I couldn't help but pick out quotes while I was reading.

Both Imogen and Hannah, vastly different characters, resonated with me. I could relate to them both and I loved that. Their voices were so distinct that I knew instantly who was narrating.

I really enjoyed the social media aspect of this story. It was necessary to the story, and I loved how self-worth and validation was explored through the medium. And social media wasn't vilified, it wasn't an "evil" in the story. I liked how each of the characters projected different images, how they acknowledged that what they put out wasn't necessarily quite true.

The ending. Wow, the ending. I loved it, the way everything came together. Ish. I'd happily read more set in this version of Iceland, with the same intrigues as this story, and the ending of The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake left it kind of open to that possibility.

I will absolutely read more by this author, The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir was excellent.
Through experience she's come to learn that life is random. As it turns out, so is death.

25 June 2019

Ten Books on my YALC 2019 List

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.

Top Ten Tuesday
This week is Top Ten 
Books On My Summer 2019 TBR 
Books on my YALC 2019 List
This was supposed to be a summer TBR but I kinda did a little one earlier in the month inspired by The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie, so instead I'm doing a YALC panic TBR/list of books I want to take. It's a month to go, so I better crack on!

I've handily ticked off the books I've already read.

Here are ten books on my YALC 2019 list:
  1. Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young ✓
  2. The Tesla Legacy by KK Perez
  3. The Wrath and The Dawn by Renée Ahdieh
  4. The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown ✓
  5. The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie ✓
  6. Other Words for Smoke by Sarah Maria Griffin ✓
  7. No Big Deal by Bethany Rutter
  8. Rose, Interrupted by Patrice Lawrence ✓
  9. The Deathless Girls by Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  10. The Sharp Edge of a Snowflake by Sif Sigmarsdóttir ✓
Some of these will be a case of me trying to read the electronic review copy before the event so that I can fan-girl at the authors understand their talks a bit better, and I'm a little bit sad that I won't be able to get actual books signed by some of them.
What's on your summer reading list?

22 June 2019

Book Review: The Beholder by Anna Bright

I got a copy of The Beholder by Anna Bright in my May 2019 Fairyloot box, and I was pretty excited - it had been on my radar for a while because of that beautiful cover. And that beautiful cover (and gorgeous pink sprayed edges) delivered and I absolutely adored reading this book.

The Beholder by Anna Bright coverAdd to Goodreads button
Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

Amazon UK | Amazon US

Source: Fairyloot

5 Words: Family, duty, betrayal, politics, survival.

I'm struggling to review The Beholder - it's a book I enjoyed immensely and struggled to put down, but at the same time I can't quite put my finger on why I loved it.

First off, this book is beautifully written. Every so often there was a line that would stop me reading, because I had to read it over and over and make a note of it. It's almost lyrical, poetic, at times.

Something I really liked was the abundance of fashion. So many pretty dresses and intricate jewellery. I also loved how the characters would talk about them and have fun. There's a part where Selah and another character just play around with makeup and dresses while getting ready and YES I need more of this please.

I think it has a lot to do with Selah.

Selah is such a darling, an absolute delight to read about, someone whose every action seems filled with good. She has such a big heart, and she wears it on her sleeve and give her love freely, and it was so endearing. But at the same time she's a little bit stubborn and strong-willed and knows what she wants. She's an incredibly well written character, so many layers and nuances bring her to life on the page.

I can understand how The Beholder will not be everyone's cup of tea, but I adored it. I loved the slower pace, the time spent getting to know each character, how I couldn't help but get fully invested in Selah and heart.

After how The Beholder ended, I can't wait to read the next one. I'm so glad that this is the start of a series, because I need more of Selah and her generous heart.

 My heart was a lit candle, a forest fire, a burning star.

21 June 2019

Book Beginnings #72

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 The Beholder by Anna Bright.

The Beholder by Anna Bright cover

Once upon a time always began on nights like tonight.
Isn't this a great first line? I think it really sets the tone of the story, gives a hint at the fairytale-with-a-hint-of-snark quality the writing has.

I'm reading The Beholder by Anna Bright for the Fairyloot readalong. It came in the May Fairyloot box, and I probably would have picked it up anyway as the cover is stunning. It reminds me of the introduction for Black Sails, so I've immediately got ideas of pirates floating round my head.

My father had never looked so defeated.
This is actually from page 55 as page 56 is blank!

So far, The Beholder by Anna Bright is a bit Cinderella, a lot of plotting and political intrigue, and a crisis of confidence. I love how already I am so invested in Selah and her life. I really feel for her, she and those around her are being manipulated, and it's like she's the only one who can see that. And she's not in a position to do anything about it.

Selah and her father have such a sweet relationship, this bit hit me in the feels.

Also the significance of the cover now makes sense! I spent a while flipping back and forth.

What are you reading this week?

19 June 2019

Book Review: Forget My Name by JS Monroe *AD Gifted

Head of Zeus sent me a free electronic review copy of Forget My Name by JS Monroe.

I thought that this was a very clever domestic thriller and although I was expecting a twist (there's always a twist) this one surprised me quite a bit.

Forget My Name by JS Monroe coverAdd to Goodreads button
How do you know who to trust...
...when you don't even know who you are?

You are outside your front door. 
There are strangers in your house.
Then you realise. You can't remember your name.

She arrived at the train station after a difficult week at work. Her bag had been stolen, and with it, her identity. Her whole life was in there – passport, wallet, house key. When she tried to report the theft, she couldn’t remember her own name. All she knew was her own address.

Now she's outside Tony and Laura's front door. She says she lives in their home. They say they have never met her before.

One of them is lying.

5 Words: Secrets, lies, memory, manipulation, mystery.

Forget My Name was an quick and compelling read, one that was difficult to put down. It presented so many mysteries that I was desperate to solve and slowly became more and more sinister as the story progressed.

Our mystery women is quite quickly called Jemma with a "J" by Tony, and this is pretty much where the fun starts. With a main character unable to remember even her name, the narrator is immediately wholly unreliable. As the story unfolds she becomes even more unreliable as she is influenced by everyone around her.

I loved how unpredictable this book was. I was surprised again and again. It is definitely more of a mystery than a thriller, but it did have me on the edge of my seat at times.

I thought that Forget My Name by JS Monroe was a very clever read, I liked the way the story twisted and turned, and how I never knew who to trust or what was true. It is a compelling read that I couldn't put down.

18 June 2019

Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2019

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.

Top Ten Tuesday
This week is Top Ten 
Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2019

    What books are you looking forward to?

    15 June 2019

    My Paper & Hearts Society Summer Reading List *AD Gifted

    BKMRK sent me a free electronic review copy of The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie.

    The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie is not only filled with fabulous friendships, but an excellent book club. The pages are bursting with recommendations, and I loved the passion of the characters when they were talking about the books.

    I was inspired while reading to pick up a few of the books recommended by various characters, and compile my own summer reading list solely from the recommendations of The Paper & Hearts Society.
    "Are any of you really going to read them just because I said so?"
    "Yes!" Olivia replied, her voice raising "That's the whole point of the book club."
    There were so many excellent recommendations, from One Italian Summer by Keris Stainton to Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt, a fair few of which I have already read. Every time I came across a book, I jotted it down, then I whittled it down to a manageable summer reading list.

    We all know how I do when I set myself a TBR, it's either a resounding success like #TheReadingQuest Reading Challenge or it's a complete failure like the the UK Re-Readathon.

    So what's on my Summer TBR?
    • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
    • Nimona by Noella Stevenson
    • One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg
    • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
    • Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
    I deliberately picked out things I wouldn't ordinarily pick for myself, and it just so happens that I can also knock off some of my 30 Classics Before 30 as well.

    14 June 2019

    Book Beginnings #71

    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 Forget My Name by J.S. Monroe.

    Forget My Name by J.S. Monroe

    I can't remember my own name.
    I think this is and excellent first line, it's dramatic and striking and has me asking so many questions, I can't wait to go on!

    Judging from the cover and the blurb, I'm expecting Forget My Name to be one of those books that really gets in your head and has you questioning everything, and I can't wait to read it!
    She looks unsteady on her feet and slumps down at the kitchen table, holding her head in her hands. "I'm sorry for coming here today, for walking into your life like this, you house, and I apologise if I've somehow upset you tonight."

    I am well past this bit in the book, but it gives a good peek at what's to come. The characters hold a lot of regret and guilt and prejudice, their own preconceptions of each other.

    It's a great story so far and although I haven't worked out what's going on yet, I'm intrigued and addicted.

    What are you reading this week?

    13 June 2019

    Release Day Book Review: The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie *AD Gifted

    BKMRK sent me a free review copy of The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie. I also somehow ended up buying myself multiple finished copies oops.

    The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie is filled with friendship and self-discovery and a great love of books, and I enjoyed it so much that I have already reread it multiple times. Oops.

    The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie coverAdd to Goodreads button
    Tabby Brown is tired of trying to fit in. She doesn't want to go to parties - in fact, she would much rather snuggle up on the sofa with her favourite book.

    It's like she hasn't found her people...

    Then Tabby joins a club that promises to celebrate books. What could go wrong? EVERYTHING - especially when making new friends brings out an AWKWARD BUZZING feeling all over her body.

    But Olivia, Cassie, Henry and Ed have something that makes Tabby come back. Maybe it's the Austen-themed fancy-dress parties, or Ed's fluffy cat Mrs Simpkins, or could it be Henry himself...

    Can Tabby let her weird out AND live THE BEST BOOKISH LIFE POSSIBLE?

    5 Words: Family, friendship, books, self-discovery, bullying.

    This. Book.

    I first read The Paper & Hearts Society by Lucy Powrie back in April when BKMRK kindly sent me a review copy. Then pretty much as soon as it was first spotted in the wild in June I read it again, this time armed with a pencil for underlining and annotations.

    As much as I loved Tabby, the main character, I related so much with Olivia that she is definitely my favourite. It was astounding to see myself so clearly in a book, in a side character so fleshed out that they came to life. I saw me - I was represented. It was a shock to me how much I felt seen.

    I think one of my favourite things about The Paper & Hearts Society was how it was packed with a huge love for books. I loved spotting books that I'd read, bumping books up my existing TBR, and adding books I hadn't heard of. Check back on Saturday for my own Paper & Hearts Society summer reading list, inspired by the books that the characters discuss.

    I really liked the conflict in this book - it was so natural and so real. The friendship group came to life to such an extent that I almost forgot they were characters in a book, and every interaction between them was natural.

    I loved the road trip, how it was another factor in the changing dynamics of the group. And all of the destinations were already on my literary travel bucket list, so it was great to see them come alive. It made me wonder how the Paper & Hearts Society would react to Barter Books and Alnwick Castle - they should definitely head up North and do a flying lesson at Hogwarts.

    The Paper & Hearts Society is one of those books that lifts you up, and it's fast becoming a self-care reread book for me. Read it, pre-order the next one, reread it.