Thursday, 8 February 2018

Blog Tour Review - Dark Game by Rachel Lynch


Dark Game by Rachel Lynch
Published 29th January 2018 by Canelo
Genre - Crime, Thriller, Police Procedure 
Star Rating - ***
Goodreads Challenge - 5/75

I received an eARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Synopsis

Kelly’s gut turned over as she realised the danger she was in. She heard no sirens. She knew that she was simply collateral. To these men who made a lot of money from the suffering of others, they’d have no problem snuffing her out.

After a scandal forces DI Kelly Porter out of the Met, she returns to her home turf in the Lake District. Crimes in the Cumbrian constabulary tend to be of the minor sort, but Kelly begins work on a cold case that shocked the local community – the abduction and brutal murder of ten-year-old Lottie Davies.
Meanwhile, Kelly is also investigating two seemingly straightforward crimes: a case involving an illegal immigrant, and a robbery following the death of local businessman Colin Day. But evidence comes to light that reveals a web of criminal activity beyond anything Kelly imagined. Behind the veneer of sleepy, touristy towns lies a dark and dangerous underworld. As Kelly threatens to expose those with much to lose, she risks paying the ultimate price to get to the truth…

Don’t miss this taut and gripping debut from a crime writer to watch. Perfect for fans for Carol Dwyer, Patricia Gibney and Angela Marsons.

My Thoughts

This was a dark and gritty crime novel that intrigued me in places and kept me wanting to read until the end. It does get quite dark in places so be warned but if you can cope with some darker themes in books then I would recommend this one. Covering topics such as prostitution, human trafficking and money laundering there are several plot lines woven together into one final climactic moment. I'll be honest, I am in a bit of a reading slump, so the pacing of this one didn't feel as fast as I would of liked. However, I think if I was in my usual reading mood this would of moved along at a much faster pace. The chapters were fairly short which always keeps me wanting to read one more and this is something I really like in a thriller.

Kelly Porter was a great character. She was passionate about what she did and was determined to solve the case throughout the book. I also found it interesting to see her family relationships between her mum and her sister and I would like some more of this in subsequent books. There were lots of other characters in this book too but I didn't find them hard to keep track of. They all played their own part in the story and I thought everything fitted together well. 

Overall I enjoyed this story, it was just a shame I was in a bit of a reading slump whilst reading it as I think I would have enjoyed it a bit more if I wasn't. That being said it was a dark and gritty fast paced thriller with a twisty turny, interwoven plot that had be excited to reach the climax. 


Overall Rating

The book is available from the following links:


Author Bio

Rachel Lynch grew up in Cumbria and the lakes and fells are never far away from her. London pulled her away to teach History and marry an Army Officer, whom she followed around the globe for thirteen years. A change of career after children led to personal training and sports therapy, but writing was always the overwhelming force driving the future. The human capacity for compassion as well as its descent into the brutal and murky world of crime are fundamental to her work.

Twitter: @r_lynchcrime

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Review - Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed





Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
Published 16th January 2018 by Hot Key Books
Star Rating - ****
Goodreads Challenge - 4/75
Diversity Bingo - Indian Main Character (Own Voices)

I was provided with an early copy from Readers First to read and review. 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape--perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacquelyn Woodson, and Adam Silvera.

Maya Aziz is torn between futures: the one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter (i.e.; staying nearby in Chicago and being matched with a "suitable" Muslim boy), and the one where she goes to film school in New York City--and maybe, just maybe, kisses a guy she's only known from afar. There's the also the fun stuff, like laughing with her best friend Violet, making on-the-spot documentaries, sneaking away for private swimming lessons at a secret pond in the woods. But her world is shattered when a suicide bomber strikes in the American heartland; by chance, he shares Maya's last name. What happens to the one Muslim family in town when their community is suddenly consumed with hatred and fear?

My Thoughts

This isn't my usual genre choice but my diversity bingo challenge pushed me to give it a go and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It's an own voices novel and, although I can't comment from an own voices perspective, I really liked the representation in this book. I thought it was a really important look at how a single act can change someones life so quickly. I thought it depicted the prejudice that Maya received in a very true way and it gave us a real view of today's society and how we need to fight this. What happened in this book is not okay, in any circumstance!

I enjoyed the writing style. I thought it merged the cute and fluffy romance story line with the more hard hitting Islamophobia story line well. It showed you just how affected Maya and her family were and how difficult this made their lives. I also enjoyed the inclusion of the italicized paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter showing the parallel story. I thought this was a good way of doing this as you felt the build up to something and, although we know what from the synopsis, it does give the added feeling of intrigue and suspense. I also thought there was some great culture in this book. It was nice to see this and to learn about different aspects of their lives, although reading some of the own voices reviews they seem to think this could of been better. That being said, from me, someone who cannot comment from an own voices perspective I thought it was good.

I really enjoyed the characters in this story too. I thought Maya was great, I loved her passion for film and movies and I loved how she was determined to follow her dreams. Even though the way she handled her parents near the end wasn't the best, this didn't affect my liking for her. I could understand why she did it. I also loved Violet as a side character. I thought it was great how she always stuck by Maya's side and wasn't influenced by any outside party. Even when life got tough she stuck up for her. I thought it was a great depiction of a female friendship. There was also a love triangle written into the story and at first I wasn't sure if I was going to like it as I'm not a fan of this YA trope however, this one was fine. It wasn't cringey or frustrating and Maya was completely honest with herself, breaking off one of the relationships early. She did keep this friendship though and I liked this. The romances were cute and fluffy and the love interests were sweet and understanding. They really seemed to care for Maya.

Overall, as a book outside of my usual comfort zone, it was a really enjoyable read. I loved the own voices Indian rep and I thought it covered some quite prominent and hard hitting topics. This mixed with the sweet contemporary aspects of the story made it a really great read. I would definitely recommend reading some of the own voices reviews if your interested in any opinions from that perspective however, if your looking for a quick, sweet contemporary mixed with some slightly more intense themes then I would recommend this one. 

Overall Rating 


 

Friday, 12 January 2018

Review - The Cruel Prince by Holly Black


The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Published 2nd January 2018 by Hot Key Books
Star Rating - *****
Goodreads Challenge - 3/75 

I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

My Thoughts
I definitely think Holly Black is one of my new favorite authors! This is the second book I've read by her now and I loved it. Her writing is amazing, its somewhat whimsical but also dark and magical. This story was truly compelling and as I neared the end I couldn't put it down.

I loved the world that Holly Black created in this book, as I did with The Darkest Part of the Forest. As I said before it was quite whimsical and magical but there were lots of darker elements too. Her world building was great and I really felt immersed in the world. The story itself was also great. For about the first half of the book there wasn't anything that really happened in the way of big plot points but this was okay. Her writing style more than made up for this and I was fully invested in the world that she had created. After the half way point things definitely started moving. The pace picked up and there were so many twists and turns. I didn't see any of them coming and I often found myself gasping from shock at the turn of events. Holly Black sure knows how to surprise her readers.

I loved the characters too. None of them were perfect they all had their own flaws but often morally grey characters are the best. Jude was a fantastic protagonist, she was ruthless but loyal to everyone around her, even Madoc who she really just wanted to hate! I also loved Cardan. Despite how he behaved towards Jude, he was horrible, there was just something compelling about him. I really shoudn't like him but I so do and I feel like I'm going to be rooting for him in the next book. I like that there wasn't a massive emphasis on romance either, but there was some there. I will also say that there is a bi character in this book, with a female female romance which was great.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, I was completely captivated throughout the story. It was dark with a twisty, turny plot that kept you on your toes until the very end. Full of a complete cast of morally grey characters that you just can't help loving. I cannot wait for the next one! 

Overall Rating 




Saturday, 6 January 2018

Review - Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp




Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp
Published 2nd January 2018 by Sorcebooks Fire
Star Rating - ****
Goodreads Challenge - 2/50
Diversity Bingo - Main Character with an Invisible Disability

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

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...

My Thoughts
  
Oh my goodness this book...I don't know how to describe it, it gave me all the feels. It made me so angry I just wanted to hit something, there were times when I sat there, physically gobsmacked, I don't think I've every read a book like it. This book covered a lot of important topics. There's a trigger warning for suicide, one of the main characters suffers from bipolar disorder so this book looks at mental illness. We also have some LGBTQIA+ rep in the form of an asexual character, a pansexual character and gay characters. So as you can tell this book sounds like its going to be important and hard hitting and too me it really was.

I was hooked from the first page. The writing was fantastic it was compelling and very atmospheric. The chapters were short which kept me going and the inclusion of different forms of media including script like passages and telephone calls kept me engaged. I also like that the author included the flashbacks, this helped to flesh out the story and understand what was happening. The rural Alaskan setting also made this story really atmospheric that coupled with the, what I can only describe as, 'cult' like members of the community made this story both thrilling and creepy. Marieke's writing was also very emotive. Corey was experiencing a barrage of emotions throughout this book and you could really feel them coming off the page. She experiences grief, anger, confusion, hurt and guilt along with other things and I felt all of these emotions right along with her. It takes some good writing skills to get me to do that and I really admire Marieke for it. There were times in this, as I said before, that I was physically gobsmacked with the way the community of Lost were treating Kyra. Marieke did a good job of writing Kyra as a character in her own right and not just as a vessel for her illness but my god the way she was treated made me angry. I would assume this was Marieke's intention and it definitely worked.

After I finished this I wasn't really sure what to think. I knew I enjoyed the book as a whole and that it was a compelling and atmospheric read but I struggled to put my thoughts together. As a result I read some of the reviews and lots of people criticized the development of the characters but to me that wasn't an issue. This got me thinking about the novel as a whole and really it isn't a highly plot driven story. It was more of an exploration of an event with a large focus on the feelings of others and dealing with grief and emotions and I think this was done very well. Throughout the story there are elements of the unusual and not all of these were wrapped up in the end. Overall I think I was okay with that but I suppose it could of been wrapped up better.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I loved the writing style, I don't think I've ever read anything like it. It made me feel all sorts of emotions and I admire the author for being able to do that. It was a highly compelling and extremely atmospheric read that I would recommend. I'm looking forward to picking up Marieke's other novel.  

Overall Rating 




Friday, 5 January 2018

Review - Wunderkids Part 1: Wildwood Academy


Wunderkids Part 1: Wildwood Academy by Jacqueline Silvester
Published 21st July 2017 by Lonewolf Press
Goodreads Challenge - 1/75
Star Rating - ****

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

15-year-old Nikka is invited to attend Wildwood Academy, a prestigious but secret boarding school for talented youth located deep in the Californian mountains. Once there, Nikka quickly falls in love with her bizarre classes, the jaw-dropping scenery and... two very different boys.

However, Wildwood Academy has a dark and twisted secret, one that could cost Nikka the one thing she had never imagined she could lose, the one thing that money can’t buy. It is this very thing that Wildwood Academy was created to steal.

Nikka can stay and lose everything, or she can risk death and run.
 

My Thoughts

So this was my first read of 2018 and I feel like I definitely started the year as I mean to go on. When I was first offered a copy of this book I read the synopsis and I knew it would be something that I would enjoy. To be honest, when I first started reading it I realized it wasn't what I was expecting. From the initial synopsis I thought there was going to be elements of fantasy in this novel but that wasn't the case. Small elements of sci-fi maybe but definitely no fantasy. It actually turned out to be more of a YA mystery/thriller but that was fine, I enjoy this genre and I enjoyed this book.

I thought this story was written really well. It was fast paced and easy to follow. That being said the writing wasn't simple, there was adequate description and character development, I felt fully immersed in this world and the story within it. You didn't find out too much in the beginning, there are hints of whats to come and I often found myself thinking maybe this has something to do with it. Every element of the story was part of something bigger and I enjoyed how all of these aspects fitted together. I kept getting vibes that something 'odd' was going on and I was intrigued throughout. By 75% of the way through I felt fully invested in the story and I stayed up late to find out what was happening. There were definitely some 'oh my god!' moments.

I loved all of the characters in their own way. They each had their own personality traits that made them unique and I loved them for it. Nikka was overly loyal to the people she loved, always thinking of others, especially her mum. She was also very strong willed and didn't just give up or give in. Sums was completely adorable and an absolute genius. He's someone I would really want to be friends with. Stella made me laugh, she seemed shallow on the outside but there was more too her, she tried hard to do what was right. Tristan just exuded that boyish charm that everyone loved, it was hard to stay mad at him and Izaya was so slick. He came across as a player but once you got to know him you see that there's more deep down. I also found the Dean really creepy right from the offset and this set the scene well. The only thing I didn't feel was necessary that the love triangle. It wasn't shoved in your face but it was always there in the background. I didn't feel it was necessary.

Overall I really enjoyed this story, even though it wasn't what I was expecting when I went into it. I suppose you could say it has some tropey YA elements like the love triangle, exclusive school with the creepy headmaster and an unlikely friendship group but I felt that they were mostly handled well. I'm looking forward to continuing on with the story and I will definitely be picking up the next in the series.

Overall Rating 

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Read More Diversely

So one of my main reading goals for 2018 is to try and read more diversely. Near the end of 2017 I discovered the Diversity Bingo 2017 challenge and I thought this sounded like a great idea. After doing some research on Twitter and around the Booktube community I've decided to have a go at this challenge myself this year. As of now there isn't a new Diversity Bingo board for 2018 so I will be using the 2017 one which is fine by me because the challenges are great. So in this post I will be listing the books I will definitely be reading as I already own them and the ones I hope to read. Anything in italics or blank is not yet finalized as I don't own these books yet so if you have any recommendations for these spaces then I would love to hear about them. So without further ado here is the bingo board I will be using for this challenge and the books I'm hoping to read for each prompt. 


Romance with a trans main character: 
If I was your girl by Merradith Russo

Non-binary main character (own voices):
Masquerade by Laura Lam (I don't think this is own voices non-binary rep but it is own voices bi rep)

SFF with a disabled main character:
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Practising Jewish main character:  
Simon vs the Homosapiens Agenda by Becky Albertali  

Indian main character (own voices):
Love, Hate and other Filters by Samira Ahmed


Displaced main character:
The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana

Main character with an under-represented body type:
Holding up the Universe by Jenifer Niven 

Neuro-Diverse main character (own voices)
On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

Retelling with a main character belonging to LGBTQIA+
The Seafarers Kiss by Julie Ember

Bisexual main character (own voices):
Ash by Malinda Lo

Main character with an invisible disability:
Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

Main Character with an anaphylactic allergy:
Tidal Zone by Sarah Moss

Main character of colour in SFF
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Latinx main character (own voices):
Labyrinth Lost by Zoria Cordovia 

Free Choice:
Warcross by Marie Lu

Non-Western (real world) setting:    
Homegoing by Yaa Gasi
Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorofor

Own Voices:
The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Main character with chronic pain:
Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
Far From You by Tess Sharpe

West Asian Setting: 
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Arab main character (own voices):


Main character with a wheelchair: 
The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher 

Book by an author of colour: 
Boy Snow Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

Biracial main character (own voices):
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Pansexual main character (own voices):
Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate 

Black main character (own voices)
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Main character on the ace spectrum (own voices)
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

LQBTQIA+ main character of colour:
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera 

Visually impaired main character: 
Blind Spot by Laura Ellen

Book Set in Central America: 
The Jumbies by Tracy Baptiste

Contemporary World Arranged Marriage: 
Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed

Indigenous main character (own voices):
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Diverse non-fiction:
In Order to Live by Yonomi Park 

Person of colour on the cover: 
Dear Martin by Nic Stone

D/deaf/hard of hearing main character: 
Magnus Chase and The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riorden 

Immigrant or refugee main character: 
Salt to the Seas by Ruta Sepetys 

Hijabi main character (own voices): 
Saints and Misfits by S K Ali

So these are all of the prompts I'm hoping to complete this year in order to complete my challenge to read more diversely. Any recommendations you have to meet any of these prompts would be highly appreciated. 

What reading challenges are you hoping to complete this year? I'd love to hear about them. 

    

         
                      


  

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

December book haul

My haul for this month was a bit larger but not by much which if good considering Christmas happened. I did acquire a few more books after I took this picture with Christmas money but I'll include them in next months haul. 




Physical Books

Even the Darkest Stars by Heather Fawcett - I received this finished copy from the publisher, Harpercollins, in exchange for review.
Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp - I received this ARC from the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire, in exchange for review. 
Nemesis by Brendan Reichs - I won this one in a giveaway on Twitter
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Illustrated Edition by J K Rowling - Christmas gift (not pictured). 

Ebooks

Triple Cross Killer by Rosemarie Aquilina - I received this from the publisher for the blog tour in December.
The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night by Jen Campbell - eARC from NetGalley
Dark Game by Rachel Lynch - eARC from NetGalley for the blog tour in February. 
Furyborn by Claire Legrand - eARC from NetGalley

As I said before I also bought a few more books in the final days of December but I had already taken my photo for this post so I'll include them in January's haul. 

Out of what I've listed here I'm most excited for Even the Darkest Stars, Before I Let Go and Furyborn. Hopefully I'll be able to get to them very soon. What books did you receive over this holiday season? Let me know.