Friday, 15 November 2019

Review - The Remaking by Clay McLeod Chapman

The Remaking: A Novel

The Remaking by Clay McLeod Chapman
Published 8th October 2019 by Quirk Books
Star Rating - ****
Goodreads Challenge - 58/50

I was gifted a copy of this book, unsolicited, from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Inspired by a true story, this supernatural thriller for fans of horror and true crime follows a tale as it evolves every twenty years—with terrifying results.

Ella Louise has lived in the woods surrounding Pilot’s Creek, Virginia, for nearly a decade. Publicly, she and her daughter Jessica are shunned by their upper-crust family and the Pilot’s Creek residents. Privately, desperate townspeople visit her apothecary for a cure to what ails them—until Ella Louise is blamed for the death of a prominent customer. Accused of witchcraft, both mother and daughter are burned at the stake in the middle of the night. Ella Louise’s burial site is never found, but the little girl has the most famous grave in the South: a steel-reinforced coffin surrounded by a fence of interconnected white crosses.

Their story will take the shape of an urban legend as it’s told around a campfire by a man forever marked by his boyhood encounters with Jessica. Decades later, a boy at that campfire will cast Amber Pendleton as Jessica in a ’70s horror movie inspired by the Witch Girl of Pilot’s Creek. Amber’s experiences on that set and its meta-remake in the ’90s will ripple through pop culture, ruining her life and career after she becomes the target of a witch hunt. Amber’s best chance to break the cycle of horror comes when a true-crime investigator tracks her down to interview her for his popular podcast. But will this final act of storytelling redeem her—or will it bring the story full circle, ready to be told once again? And again. And again…

My Thoughts
I was sent this book unsolicited from the publisher and I'm usually quite wary of unsolicited review copies but this one sounded so intriguing I couldn't help but give it a go. The synopsis of this one sounded perfect for the Halloween season and I was right. The story was creepy and the writing style was extremely atmospheric which made it the perfect Halloween read.

The thing I loved most about this one was the storytelling. I loved the way the author told the story using four different timelines all following the same urban legend. We started at the beginning with the original legend and then moved through the years with the remakes, but it all linked back to the very beginning. It was really clever, all of the stories interconnected well and I think this made the story quite unique.

Not only did the stories connect but so did the characters. Our female MC was featured in all 3 of the remake story lines and all of the male MCs had the same traits. I'm not really sure how I feel about the male characters, which is the reason why I gave this one 4 stars. Each of them came across as quite possessive of the story they were telling and therefore the female MC however, this did fit quite well with the story and definitely added to the creepy vibe.

Overall I quite enjoyed this one. It was very creepy and atmospheric and definitely makes a great Halloween read, perfect for the spooky season.

Overall Rating 


Saturday, 2 November 2019

September and October Wrap Up

Over the past couple of months my reading has slowed down dramatically. Over the months of September and October I have only read 7 books across the two months which is a lot less than I had been (I'm looking at you 13 books in August)! I think this is combination of being back at work full time after the summer holidays and being in a bit of a dreaded reading slump. 

Because of these things I have also slowed down with my blog, only posting reviews of books I received from publishers, and that is why there was no September wrap up. However, I feel like I'm coming out the other side of this blip now so here I am bringing you a combined wrap up of all of the books I've read in the months of September and October. 

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Invisible in a Bright Light by Sally Gardner
Published 17th October 2019 by Head of Zeus
Star Rating - ***
Goodreads Challenge - 54/50 
Review - Blog Review

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Evermore by Sara Holland
Published 3rd January by Orchard Books
Star Rating - ***
Goodreads Challenge - 55/50

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The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt
Published 5th September by Pan Macmillan
Star Rating - ***
Goodreads Challenge - 56/50
Review - Blog Review

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The Remaking by Clay McLeod Chapman
Published 8th October 2019 by Quirk Books
Star Rating - ****
Goodreads Challenge - 58/50
Review - Blog Review

Daughter of the Pirate King (Daughter of the Pirate King, #1)

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
Published 28th February 2017 by Feiwel Friends
Star Rating - ****
Goodreads Challenge - 57/50

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Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff
Published 5th September 2019 by HarperVoyager 
Star Rating - 
Goodreads Challenge - 59/50

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Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff
Published 18th June 2018 by Harper Collins
Star Rating - *****
Goodreads Challenge - 53/50

Not a bad couple of reading months ratings wise but not great quantity wise. Hopefully the rest of the year will be better. 

I'm really pleased to have finished out the Nevernight Chronicles this month though definitely a series I would recommend. What was your favourite read of the month?








Friday, 1 November 2019

Review - The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt

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The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt
Published 5th September 2019 by Pan Macmillan
Star Rating - ***
Goodreads Challenge - 56/50

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

Synopsis (from Goodreads)
The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt is a stunning contemporary fantasy debut about another London, a magical world hidden behind the bustling modern city we know.

Alice Wyndham has been plagued by visions of birds her whole life...until the mysterious Crowley reveals that Alice is an 'aviarist' capable of seeing nightjars, magical birds that guard human souls. When her best friend is hit by a car, only Alice can find and save her nightjar.

With Crowley's help, Alice travels to the Rookery, a hidden, magical alternate London to hone her newfound talents. But a faction intent on annihilating magic users will stop at nothing to destroy the new aviarist. And is Crowley really working with her, or against her? Alice must risk everything to save her best friend--and uncover the strange truth about herself.

My Thoughts
I was really intrigued by the plot of this one. It was a great sounding concept and the ideas were really interesting however, I don't feel like they were executed in as much depth as I would of liked. I wanted more of the magic system and more information about aviarists and why they were so rare in this world. The setting was interesting too, I loved the idea of an alternate London however again, I didn't think this was explored as much as it could of been. We seemed to barely scratch the surface and I just wanted more.

The main character was really frustrating too. She was headstrong, which was great but, she often dived head first into bad situations without thinking which then resulted in her having to be rescued, a lot! There was also a lot of secrets and lies between our female and male main characters and I think the aim of this within the story was to keep you reading to find out more but this resulted in the above actions from the main character and this made for a bit of a frustrating reading experience. Also don't get me started on the romance! I didn't like it, it was far to tropey and cliche and in fact a little bit pointless.

The writing itself was fine. It was a bit slow to start and it did struggle to capture my interest in the beginning however, it did pick up the pace about half way through which kept me going until the end. The ending itself seemed to set up for a sequel too that explores more of the magic system but I'm not sure if I'll be picking that up.

Overall it was an okay read. One that, the more I read the more enjoyable it became however, I don't think I will be picking up any sequels.

Overall Rating 



Saturday, 26 October 2019

Quarterly Wrap Up

Here's the next instalment of my quarterly wrap up (sorry it's a bit late) for the third quarter of the year, July to September.

This quarter I read 21 books which is the most so far this year. I think that's due to the school summer holidays that happened during this quarter. Here are my stats for this quarter.

Age Demographic

Middle Grade: 2
Young Adult: 7
Adult: 12

Genre

Fantasy: 14
Sci-Fi: 1
Contemporary: 2 
Mystery/Thriller: 1
Fairytale Retelling: 1
Graphic Novels: 2

Source

Physical ARC/Finished Copy from Publisher: 15
eARC from Publisher/NetGalley: 1
Bought in 2019: 2
Owned Prior to 2019: 1 
Library Book: 2

Star Rating

1 Star: 0
2 Star: 1
3 Star: 6
4 Star: 12
5 Star: 2

Top 3 Books of this Quarter

Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan 

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Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff

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Turning Darkness into Light by Marie Brennan

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I'm fairly pleased with my reading this quarter. I focused mainly on reading my review copies and I think I managed to do that well. The ratings were quite average but there were definitely some stand out reads. 

What has been your favourite read so far this year?


Friday, 25 October 2019

Review - All the Things We Do in the Dark by Saundra Mitchell

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All the Things We Do in the Dark by Saundra Mitchell
Published 29th October 2019 by Harper Teen 
Star Rating - ****
Goodreads Challenge - 43/50

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

Synopsis (from Goodreads)
There’s no such thing as a secret.

SOMETHING happened to Ava. The curving scar on her face is proof. But Ava would rather keep that something hidden—buried deep in her heart and her soul.

She has her best friend Syd, and she has her tattoos—a colorful quilt, like a security blanket, over her whole body—and now, suddenly, she has Hailey. Beautiful, sweet Hailey, who seems to like Ava as much as she likes her. And Ava isn’t letting anything get in the way of finally, finally seeking peace. But in the woods on the outskirts of town, the traces of someone else’s secrets lie frozen, awaiting Ava’s discovery—and what Ava finds threatens to topple the carefully-constructed wall of normalcy that she’s spent years building. Secrets leave scars. But when the secret in question is not your own—do you ignore the truth and walk away? Or do you uncover it from its shallow grave, and let it reopen old wounds—wounds that have finally begun to heal?

My Thoughts
This book was raw and emotional. It told a really powerful story based of the authors own experiences with rape and sexual assault, so trigger warnings for these things. This book does have it's own trigger warnings in the front too which is great as it doesn't rely on early readers and reviewers to make people aware of these. The main character tells her story and as you follow her we discover ways in which she copes with what has happened to her but also how she struggles with what has happened and how she's feeling. This book definitely promotes the importance of talking to people and asking for help however, it doesn't force this upon you. I think it was extremely well written and handled all of the topics very well. There was a bit of a mystery aspect to this plot as well that ran alongside the main characters day to day life and I think this was an interesting way to depict the characters thoughts and feelings about how she's coping in her everyday life. There's also LGBTQIA+ rep in this book, our main character ends up in a f/f romance and again this didn't feel forced or included on purpose. It complimented the story well. 

Overall I enjoyed this story when I read it and it definitely covered some really important topics extremely well. It was a raw and powerful read, full of emotion and I think it was very well written and handled all of the topics well. The only reason why I didn't give it 5 stars was because I found the story itself, although extremely important, didn't fully immerse me. 

Overall Rating 


Friday, 18 October 2019

Review - Invisible in a Bright Light by Sally Gardner

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Invisible in a Bright Light by Sally Gardner
Published 17th October by Head of Zeus
Star Rating - ***
Goodreads Challenge - 54/50

I was gifted a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)
From I, Coriander to Invisible in a Bright Light, Sally Gardner's first middle grade novel in 14 years soars with the imagination of a master story-teller. A pitch-perfect story about a crystal chandelier that splinters into a thousand pieces, a girl abandoned as a baby on the steps of an opera house and a dangerous game called the Reckoning.

It is 1870: opening night at the Royal Opera House in a freezing city by the sea, where a huge, crystal chandelier in the shape of a galleon sparkles magically with the light of 750 candles.

Celeste, a theatre rat, wakes up in a costume basket from what she hopes is a bad dream, to find that everyone at the theatre where she works thinks she is someone else.

When the chandelier falls, she is haunted by a strange girl who claims to know Celeste's past and why she must risk playing a game called the Reckoning to try to save the people she loves.

My Thoughts
When I received this in the post I read the synopsis and was instantly excited to read it. I loved the sound of the plot and I do enjoy a magical middle grade story which I hoped this was. Unfortunately I think this was a little bit of the wrong book at the wrong time for me. I picked this one up right after finishing Godsgrave as I thought I wanted something completely different but I was still in a bit of a book hangover when I read this one.

By no means was this a bad book. The plot was interesting, although I did find myself a little bit lost at the beginning, and had some fun magical elements to it. The writing was great too. It had a really whimsical and childlike feel to it which I think fit really well with the story.

The characters were fun too, our main character was strong and knew her own mind. The 'villain' character was interesting and just the right amount of mean for a middle grade book. There were also some great themes of friendship and supporting others running throughout this book.

Overall, as I said, it wasn't a bad book however, I did find myself struggling at times but I think that's due to the fact that I was in a little bit of a book hangover. I can really see this being enjoyed by many children and adults alike.

Overall Rating


Friday, 4 October 2019

Review - The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis

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The Good Luck Girls by Charlotte Nicole Davis
Published 1st October 2019 by Hot Key Books
Star Rating - ***.5
Goodreads Challenge - 50/50

I was kindly gifted an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Aster, the protector
Violet, the favorite
Tansy, the medic
Mallow, the fighter
Clementine, the catalyst

THE GOOD LUCK GIRLS

The country of Arketta calls them Good Luck Girls--they know their luck is anything but. Sold to a "welcome house" as children and branded with cursed markings. Trapped in a life they would never have chosen.

When Clementine accidentally murders a man, the girls risk a dangerous escape and harrowing journey to find freedom, justice, and revenge in a country that wants them to have none of those things. Pursued by Arketta's most vicious and powerful forces, both human and inhuman, their only hope lies in a bedtime story passed from one Good Luck Girl to another, a story that only the youngest or most desperate would ever believe.

It's going to take more than luck for them all to survive.

My Thoughts
I was really excited about this one, I'd seen quite a bit of hype around this book and the synopsis was really intriguing to me however, unfortunately I think my expectations were a little bit too high and I was a little bit disappointed overall. 

As I said the synopsis sounded super intriguing and I did enjoy the overall plot in the end. There is a big focus throughout this book on fighting back against societal expectations and I really liked that about this story. The themes in this book are really important however, I think the execution let it down a little bit. The writing style was okay, it was descriptive and reasonably paced but the plot was quite predictable in places. There were things that happened in the plot that seemed very coincidental and seemed like they were only there to move the plot along. I also felt the ending was quite rushed. There was a big build up and our main characters were travelling on a long journey that lasted the majority of the book and then all of a sudden everything was wrapped up in a few pages. 

I did enjoy the characters though. Each of our cast of characters brought something different to the story and I really liked that about them. I particularly liked Aster, who I would say is our main character. She's described in the synopsis as the protector and I completely agree with that statement. She's strong and determined and strives to keep everyone safe. I loved the development of her character alongside Zee as he challenges her view on men and she learns to trust him. As I said the other characters all brought something individual to the story too however, none of them were as strong as Aster. 

Overall I enjoyed the story and I really liked the characters but the predictable nature of the plot and the rushed ending left this one feeling a bit lacklustre for me. 

Trigger Warnings - sexual assault and sex trafficking

Overall Rating (3.5*)