Monday, 30 October 2017

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Title: The Raven Boys
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 464
Genres: Fantasy, YA Paranormal

Blue has spent the majority of her sixteen years being told that if she kisses her true love, he will die. When Blue meets Gansey's spirit on the corpse road she knows there is only one reason why - either he is her true love or she has killed him.

Determined to find out the truth, Blue becomes involved with the Raven Boys, four boys from the local private school (lead by Gansey) who are on a quest to discover Glendower - a lost ancient Welsh King who is buried somewhere along the Virginia ley line.

Whoever finds him will be granted a supernatural favour. Never before has Blue felt such magic around her. But is Gansey her true love? She can't imagine a time she would feel like that, and she is adamant not to be the reason for his death. Where will fate lead them?

Monday, 16 October 2017

Review: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Title: Sense and Sensibility
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 256
Genres: Classics

"The more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!"

Jane Austen's novel tells the story of Marianne Dashwood, who wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor's warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love - and its threatened loss - the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Review: The Fate of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Title: The Fate of the Tearling
Series: Tearling #3
Author: Erika Johansen
Publisher: Bantam
Pages: 528
Genres: Fantasy, Epic/High

Since ascending to the throne, Kelsea Glynn has grown into a powerful monarch and a visionary leader.

But in her quest to end corruption and restore justice within the Tearling, she has made many enemies. Chief amongst them is the evil and feared Red Queen, who now holds Kelsea – and her magical sapphires – captive in her castle in Mortmesne, a deal brokered to protect the Tearling from a Mort invasion.

But the Tearling needs its Queen, and the Mace, head of Kelsea’s personal guards, will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison.

Now it is time for the fate of Queen Kelsea – and the Tearling itself – to be revealed . . .

Monday, 2 October 2017

Review: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Title: The Invasion of the Tearling
Series: Tearling #2
Author: Erika Johansen
Publisher: Bantam
Pages: 576
Genres: Fantasy, Epic/High

With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighbouring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling – and that of Kelsea’s own soul – may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Review: The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Series: Tearling #1
Author: Erika Johansen
Publisher: Bantam
Pages: 512
Genres: Fantasy, Epic/High

Kelsea Glynn is the sole heir to the throne of Tearling but has been raised in secret after her mother – a monarch as vain as she was foolish – was murdered for ruining her kingdom. For 18 years, the Tearling has been ruled by Kelsea’s uncle in the role of Regent however he is but the debauched puppet of the Red Queen, the sorceress-tyrant of neighbouring realm of Mortmesme. On Kelsea’s nineteenth birthday, the tattered remnants of her mother’s guard - each pledged to defend the queen to the death - arrive to bring this most un-regal young woman out of hiding...

And so begins her journey back to her kingdom’s heart, to claim the throne, win the loyalty of her people, overturn her mother’s legacy and redeem the Tearling from the forces of corruption and dark magic that are threatening to destroy it. But Kelsea's story is not just about her learning the true nature of her inheritance - it's about a heroine who must learn to acknowledge and live with the realities of coming of age in all its insecurities and attractions, alongside the ethical dilemmas of ruling justly and fairly while simply trying to stay alive...

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Title: Heartless
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 453
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King's marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Review: The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Title: The Lie Tree
Author: Frances Hardinge
Illustrated by: Chris Riddell
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 496
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
It was not enough. All knowledge- any knowledge - called to Faith, and there was a delicious, poisonous pleasure in stealing it unseen.

Faith has a thirst for science and secrets that the rigid confines of her class cannot supress. And so it is that she discovers her disgraced father's journals, filled with the scribbled notes and theories of a man driven close to madness. Tales of a strange tree which, when told a lie, will uncover a truth: the greater the lie, the greater the truth revealed to the liar. Faith's search for the tree leads her into great danger - for where lies seduce, truths shatter . . .

Friday, 15 September 2017

Review: My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier

Title: My Cousin Rachel
Author: Daphne Du Maurier
Publisher: Virago
Pages: 352
Genres: Classics
Orphaned at an early age, Philip Ashley is raised by his benevolent cousin, Ambrose. Resolutely single, Ambrose delights in making Philip his heir, knowing he will treasure his beautiful Cornish estate. But Philip's world is shattered when Ambrose sets off on a trip to Florence. There he falls in love and marries - and then dies suddenly in suspicious circumstances.

Before long, the new widow - Philip's cousin Rachel - arrives in England. Despite himself, Philip is drawn to this beautiful, mysterious woman. But could she have masterminded Ambrose's death?

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Review: Orange: The Complete Collection, Vol. 1 & 2

Title: Orange: The Complete Collection, Vol. 1 & 2
Author: Ichigo Takano
Translated by: Amber Tamosaitis
Publisher: Seven Seas
Pages: 384
Genres: Manga, Shojo
On the day that Naho begins 11th grade, she receives a letter from herself ten years in the future. At first, she writes it off as a prank, but as the letter’s predictions come true one by one, Naho realizes that the letter might be the real deal. Her future self tells Naho that a new transfer student, a boy named Kakeru, will soon join her class. The letter begs Naho to watch over him, saying that only Naho can save Kakeru from a terrible future. Who is this mystery boy, and can Naho save him from his destiny?

Friday, 8 September 2017

Review: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Title: Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Puffin
Pages: 400
Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
It's early 1945 and a group of people trek across Germany, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. Four young people, each haunted by their own dark secret, narrate their unforgettable stories.

This inspirational novel is based on a true story from the Second World War. When the German ship the Wilhelm Gustloff was sunk in port in early 1945 it had over 9000 civilian refugees, including children, on board. Nearly all were drowned.

August 2017 - Reading Wrap Up

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Review: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

Title: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Author: Anne Brontë
Publisher: Vintage Classics
Pages: 608
Genres: Classics
When the mysterious and beautiful young widow Helen Graham becomes the new tenant at Wildfell Hall rumours immediately begin to swirl around her. As her neighbour Gilbert Markham comes to discover, Helen has painful secrets buried in her past that even his love for her cannot easily overcome.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

Title: The One Memory of Flora Banks
Author: Emily Barr
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 320
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO TO TRUST WHEN YOU CAN'T EVEN TRUST YOURSELF?

I look at my hands. One of them says FLORA BE BRAVE.

Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can't remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is.
Then she kisses someone she shouldn't, and the next day she remembers it. It's the first time she's remembered anything since she was ten.

But the boy is gone. She thinks he's moved to the Arctic.

Will following him be the key to unlocking her memory? Who can she trust?

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Review: Cruelty by Roald Dahl

Title: Cruelty
Author: Roald Dahl
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 240
Genres: Short Story Collection
'Cruelty has a human heart . . .'

Even when we mean to be kind we can sometimes be cruel. We each have a streak of nastiness inside us. In these ten tales of cruelty master storyteller Roald Dahl explores how and why it is we make others suffer.

Among others, you'll read the story of two young bullies and the boy they torment, the adulterous wife who uncovers her husband's secret, the man with a painting tattooed on his back whose value he doesn't appreciate and the butler and chef who run rings around their obnoxious employer.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Review: Runaway Girl by Casey Watson

Title: Runaway Girl
Author: Casey Watson
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 304
Genres: Non-fiction, Memoir
Fourteen-year-old Adrianna arrives on Casey’s doorstep with no possessions, no English, and no explanation. It will be a few weeks before Casey starts getting the shocking answers to her questions….

Brought to Casey as a short-term emergency placement, fourteen-year-old Adrianna arrives with nothing but her gratitude. Having ‘turned herself in’ to a social services office some hundred miles away, she has no possessions, no English and, apparently, no history – not that she’s willing to share, anyway. She is a beautiful young Polish girl, with the bearing of a ballerina, but is terrified, malnourished and unwell. And, having slept rough for some time (the little they do know about her) she spends much of her first days with Watsons asleep in bed.

Growing concerned about Adrianna’s wellbeing, and her persistent high temperature, Casey decides to call in the GP. But, to her surprise, Adrianna becomes almost hysterical about being examined and, given her refusal to talk – even via the interpreter they’ve brought in for her – Casey’s fostering antennae begin twitching. Where has she come from? And why is she so terrified to be touched? What has happened to make her so ill and scared?

It will be a few weeks before Casey starts getting answers to these questions. Shocking answers; ones that throw up a whole host of new questions and the beginnings of a journey to find justice for Adrianna, and, more importantly, a future, and a home…

Monday, 21 August 2017

Review: Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracey Chevalier

Title: Girl With a Pearl Earring
Author: Tracey Chevalier
Publisher: The Borough Press
Pages: 272
Genres: Historical Fiction
17th Century Holland. When Griet becomes a maid in the household of Johannes Vermeer in the town of Delft, she thinks she knows her role: housework, laundry and the care of his six children. But as she becomes part of his world and his work, their growing intimacy spreads tension and deception in the ordered household and, as the scandal seeps out, into the town beyond.

Review: The Last to Know by Mark Gartside

Title: The Last to Know
Author: Mark Gartside
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Pages: 352
Genres: General Fiction
It only takes one person to destroy a marriage . . .

They were the perfect family unit, Tom, Sherry and their daughter Peggy.

That was until Daniel Faber walked back into Sherry’s life.

Never an ex according to Sherry, but Tom is concerned that Daniel wants more from his wife than she realizes. The fact that Sherry already has a husband and child doesn’t seem to bother him.

So begins a battle for the love of one woman, but some people don’t play fair and in the middle of the fight stands a little girl who just wants her mother and father to stay together.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Review: Too Late by Colleen Hoover

Title: Too Late
Author: Colleen Hoover
Publisher: CreateSpace
Pages: 394
Genres: Romance, New Adult
Sloan will go through hell and back for her little brother. And she does, every single night.

Forced to remain in a relationship with the dangerous and corrupt Asa Jackson, Sloan will do whatever it takes to make sure her brother has what he needs.

Nothing will get in her way.

Nothing except Carter.

Sloan is the only good thing to ever happen to Asa. He knows this and he never plans on letting her go; even if she doesn't approve of his lifestyle. But despite Sloan's disapproval, Asa knows what it takes to get what he wants. He knows what he needs to do to remain on top.

Nothing will get in his way.

Nothing except Carter.

Review: The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

Title: The Obelisk Gate
Series: The Broken Earth #2
Author: N. K. Jemisin
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 448
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-fi

This is the way the world ends, for the last time.

The season of endings grows darker, as civilization fades into the long cold night.
Essun -- once Damaya, once Syenite, now avenger -- has found shelter, but not her daughter. Instead there is Alabaster Tenring, destroyer of the world, with a request. But if Essun does what he asks, it would seal the fate of the Stillness forever.

Far away, her daughter Nassun is growing in power - and her choices will break the world.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Review: My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella

Title: My Not So Perfect Life
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: Black Swan 
Pages: 448
Genres: Women's Fiction

Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.

OK, so the truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.

But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?

Until her not-so-perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams - or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman who has everything – actually have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.

And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Review: Loving Mr. Daniels by Brittainy C. Cherry

Title: Loving Mr. Daniels
Author: Brittainy C. Cherry
Publisher: BCherry Books Publishing 
Pages: 354
Genres: Romance, New Adult

To Whom it May Concern,

It was easy to call us forbidden and harder to call us soulmates. Yet I believed we were both. Forbidden soulmates.

When I arrived to Edgewood, Wisconsin I didn’t plan to find him. I didn't plan to stumble into Joe's bar and have Daniel's music stir up my emotions. I had no clue that his voice would make my hurts forget their own sorrow. I had no idea that my happiness would remember its own bliss.

When I started senior year at my new school, I wasn’t prepared to call him Mr. Daniels, but sometimes life happens at the wrong time for all the right reasons.

Our love story wasn’t only about the physical connection.

It was about family. It was about loss. It was about being alive. It was silly. It was painful. It was mourning. It was laughter.

It was ours.

And for those reasons alone, I would never apologize for Loving Mr. Daniels.

-Ashlyn Jennings

Monday, 31 July 2017

Review: Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Title: Wing Jones
Author: Katherine Webber
Publisher:   Walker Books
Pages: 380
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

With a grandmother from China and another from Ghana, fifteen-year-old Wing Jones is often caught between worlds. But when tragedy strikes, Wing discovers a talent for running she never knew she had. Wing's speed could bring her family everything it needs. It could also stop Wing getting the one thing she wants.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Review: Tears of Tess by Pepper Winters

Title: Tears of Tess
Series: Monsters in the Dark #1
Author: Pepper Winters
Publisher:   CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Pages: 380
Genres: Romance, New Adult

Tess Snow has everything she ever wanted: one more semester before a career in property development, a loving boyfriend, and a future dazzling bright with possibility.

For their two year anniversary, Brax surprises Tess with a romantic trip to Mexico. Sandy beaches, delicious cocktails, and soul-connecting sex set the mood for a wonderful holiday. With a full heart, and looking forward to a passion filled week, Tess is on top of the world.

But lusty paradise is shattered.

Kidnapped. Drugged. Stolen. Tess is forced into a world full of darkness and terror.

Captive and alone with no savior, no lover, no faith, no future, Tess evolves from terrified girl to fierce fighter. But no matter her strength, it can’t save her from the horror of being sold.

Can Brax find Tess before she’s broken and ruined, or will Tess’s new owner change her life forever?

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Review: Swear on This Life by Renée Carlino

Title: Swear on This Life
Author: Renée Carlino
Publisher:  Atria Books
Pages: 320
Genres: Romance, New Adult

When a bestselling debut novel from mysterious author J. Colby becomes the literary event of the year, Emiline reads it reluctantly. As an adjunct writing instructor at UC San Diego with her own stalled literary career and a bumpy long-term relationship, Emiline isn’t thrilled to celebrate the accomplishments of a young and gifted writer.

Yet from the very first page, Emiline is entranced by the story of Emerson and Jackson, two childhood best friends who fall in love and dream of a better life beyond the long dirt road that winds through their impoverished town in rural Ohio.

That’s because the novel is patterned on Emiline’s own dark and desperate childhood, which means that “J. Colby” must be Jase: the best friend and first love she hasn’t seen in over a decade. Far from being flattered that he wrote the novel from her perspective, Emiline is furious that he co-opted her painful past and took some dramatic creative liberties with the ending.

The only way she can put her mind at ease is to find and confront “J. Colby,” but is she prepared to learn the truth behind the fiction?

Monday, 10 July 2017

Review: The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

Title: The Fifth Season
Series: The Broken Earth #1
Author: N. K. Jemisin
Publisher: Orbit
Pages: 512
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-fi

THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS . . . FOR THE LAST TIME.

IT STARTS WITH THE GREAT RED RIFT across the heart of the world's sole continent, spewing ash that blots out the sun.
IT STARTS WITH DEATH, with a murdered son and a missing daughter.
IT STARTS WITH BETRAYAL, and long dormant wounds rising up to fester.

This is the Stillness, a land long familiar with catastrophe, where the power of the earth is wielded as a weapon. And where there is no mercy.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Review: The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen

Title: The Light of the Fireflies
Author: Paul Pen
Translated by: Simon Bruni
Publisher:  AmazonCrossing
Pages: 338
Genres: Thriller, Suspense

For his whole life, the boy has lived underground, in a basement with his parents, grandmother, sister, and brother. Before he was born, his family was disfigured by a fire. His sister wears a white mask to cover her burns.

He spends his hours with his cactus, reading his book on insects, or touching the one ray of sunlight that filters in through a crack in the ceiling. Ever since his sister had a baby, everyone’s been acting very strangely. The boy begins to wonder why they never say who the father is, about what happened before his own birth, about why they’re shut away.

A few days ago, some fireflies arrived in the basement. His grandma said, There’s no creature more amazing than one that can make its own light. That light makes the boy want to escape, to know the outside world. Problem is, all the doors are locked. And he doesn’t know how to get out…

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Review: Second Glance by Jodi Picoult

Title: Second Glance
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher:  Hodder and Stoughton
Pages: 480
Genres: Paranormal, Fiction

When a plot of land is being developed in Vermont against the will of a local Native American tribe, strange things begin to happen - and Ross Wakeman, a paranormal investigator, is asked to get involved. He's a desperate drifter who's taken up ghost hunting in an effort to cross paths again with his fiancee, who died in a car crash eight years ago, but he has yet to experience anything even remotely paranormal. Then Ross meets Lia . . . As a seventy-year-old murder case is reopened, a shocking secret about a crime of passion long past is revealed.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Review: Lover Revealed by J. R. Ward

Title: Lover Revealed
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #4
Author: J. R. Ward
Publisher: Piatkus
Pages: 544
Genres: Paranormal Romance

In the shadows of the night in Caldwell, New York, there's a deadly war raging between vampires and their slayers. And there exists a secret band of brothers like no other - six vampire warriors, defenders of their race. Now, an ally of the Black Dagger Brotherhood will face the challenge of his life and the evil of the ages.

Butch O'Neal is a fighter by nature. A hard living, ex-homicide cop, he's the only human ever to be allowed in the inner circle of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. And he wants to go even deeper into the vampire world- to engage in the turf war with the lessers. He's got nothing to lose. His heart belongs to a female vampire, an aristocratic beauty who's way out of his league. If he can't have her, then at least he can fight side by side with the Brothers...

Fate curses him with the very thing he wants. When Butch sacrifices himself to save a civilian vampire from the slayers, he falls prey to the darkest force in the war. Left for dead, found by a miracle, the Brotherhood calls on Marissa to bring him back, though even her love may not be enough to save him...

Monday, 19 June 2017

Review: Stay With Me by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀

Title: Stay With Me
Author: Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀
Publisher:  Canongate
Pages: 298
Genres: Historical Fiction

‘There are things even love can’t do … If the burden is too much and stays too long, even love bends, cracks, comes close to breaking and sometimes does break. But even when it’s in a thousand pieces around your feet, that doesn’t mean it’s no longer love …’

Yejide is hoping for a miracle, for a child. It is all her husband wants, all her mother-in-law wants, and she has tried everything - arduous pilgrimages, medical consultations, appeals to God. But when her relatives insist upon a new wife, it is too much for Yejide to bear. It will lead to jealousy, betrayal and despair.

Unravelling against the social and political turbulence of 1980s Nigeria, Stay With Me sings with the voices, colours, joys and fears of its surroundings. Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ weaves a devastating story of the fragility of married love, the undoing of family, the wretchedness of grief, and the all-consuming bonds of motherhood. It is a tale about our desperate attempts to save ourselves and those we love from heartbreak.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Review: The Colour of Milk by Nell Leyshon

Title: The Colour of Milk
Author: Nell Leyshon
Publisher:  Penguin
Pages: 176
Genres: Historical Fiction

'this is my book and i am writing it by my own hand'

The year is eighteen hundred and thirty one when fifteen-year-old Mary begins the difficult task of telling her story. A scrap of a thing with a sharp tongue and hair the colour of milk, Mary leads a harsh life working on her father's farm alongside her three sisters. In the summer she is sent to work for the local vicar's invalid wife, where the reasons why she must record the truth of what happens to her - and the need to record it so urgently - are gradually revealed.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Review: The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

Title: The Ship of Brides
Author: Jojo Moyes
Publisher:  Hodder
Pages: 512
Genres: Historical Fiction

Australia, 1946. 650 brides are departing for England to meet the men they married in wartime. But instead of the luxury liner they were expecting, they find themselves aboard an aircraft carrier, alongside a thousand men.

On the sun-baked decks, old loves and past promises become distant memories, and tensions are stretched to the limit as brides and husbands change their minds. And for Frances Mackenzie, one bride in particular, it soon becomes clear that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Review: In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park with Maryanne Vollers

Title: In Order to Live
Author: Yeonmi Park with Maryanne Vollers
Publisher:  Penguin
Pages: 288
Genres: Non-fiction, Memoir

Yeonmi Park was not dreaming of freedom when she escaped from North Korea. She didn't even know what it meant to be free. All she knew was that she was running for her life, that if she and her family stayed behind they would die - from starvation, or disease, or even execution.

This book is the story of Park's struggle to survive in the darkest, most repressive country on earth; her harrowing escape through China's underworld of smugglers and human traffickers; and then her escape from China across the Gobi desert to Mongolia, with only the stars to guide her way, and from there to South Korea and at last to freedom; and finally her emergence as a leading human rights activist - all before her 21st birthday.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Review: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

Title: The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August
Author: Claire North
Publisher:  Orbit
Pages: 448
Genres: Science Fiction

Harry August is on his deathbed. Again.

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes.

Until now.

As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. 'I nearly missed you, Doctor August,' she says. 'I need to send a message.'

This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Title: Strange the Dreamer
Series: Strange the Dreamer #1
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Pages: 544
Genres: Fantasy, High/Epic


The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

May 2017 - Reading Wrap Up

Monday, 29 May 2017

Review: The One by Kiera Cass

Title: The One
Series: The Selection #3
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Pages: 336
Genres: Science Fiction, YA, Dystopian

For the four girls who remain at the palace, the friendships they’ve formed, rivalries they’ve struggled with and dangers they’ve faced have bound them to each other for the rest of their lives.

Now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen.

America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realises just how much she stands to lose and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Review: The Doctor's Wife is Dead by Andrew Tierney

Title: The Doctor's Wife is Dead
Author: Andrew Tierney
Publisher:  Penguin Ireland
Pages: 272
Genres: Non-fiction, True Crime

In 1849, a woman called Ellen Langley died in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. She was the wife of a prosperous local doctor. So why was she buried in a pauper's coffin? Why had she been confined to the grim attic of the house she shared with her husband, and then exiled to a rented dwelling-room in an impoverished part of the famine-ravaged town? And why was her husband charged with murder?

Following every twist and turn of the inquest into Ellen Langley's death and the trial of her husband, The Doctor's Wife is Dead tells the story of an unhappy marriage, of a man's confidence that he could get away with abusing his wife, and of the brave efforts of a number of ordinary citizens to hold him to account. Andrew Tierney has produced a tour de force of narrative nonfiction that shines a light on the double standards of Victorian law and morality and illuminates the weave of money, sex, ambition and respectability that defined the possibilities and limitations of married life. It is a gripping portrait of a marriage, a society and a shocking legal drama.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass

Title: The Elite
Series: The Selection #2
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Pages: 336
Genres: Science Fiction, YA, Dystopian

The Selection gets fierce as rivals stake their claim on the prince. Six girls, one life-changing prize…

America Singer will leave her pre-destined life for a world of glamour and luxury, if she wins.

But surviving The Selection is tough. Rivals are battling to become Prince Maxon’s bride as the threat of rebel violence just beyond the palace walls escalates into war.

Only six girls are left and sworn friendships are tested to breaking point. America’s feelings for Maxon grow stronger, but she suspects darker mysteries in his royal past. With ex-lover Aspen waiting for her in the shadows, where do her loyalties truly lie?

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass

Title: The Selection
Series: The Selection #1
Author: Kiera Cass
Publisher:  HarperCollins
Pages: 336
Genres: Science Fiction, YA, Dystopian

Thirty-five beautiful girls. Thirty-five beautiful rivals…

It’s the chance of a lifetime and 17-year-old America Singer should feel lucky. She has been chosen for The Selection, a reality TV lottery in which the special few compete for gorgeous Prince Maxon’s love.

Swept up in a world of elaborate gowns, glittering jewels and decadent feasts, America is living a new and glamorous life. And the prince takes a special interest in her, much to the outrage of the others.

Rivalry within The Selection is fierce and not all of the girls are prepared to play by the rules. But what they don’t know is that America has a secret one which could throw the whole competition and change her life forever.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Review: The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

Title: The Sign of Four
Series: Sherlock Holmes #2
Author: Arthur Conan Doyle
Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 160
Genres: Classics, Mystery

When a beautiful young woman is sent a letter inviting her to a sinister assignation, she immediately seeks the advice of the consulting detective Sherlock Holmes.

For this is not the first mysterious item Mary Marston has received in the post. Every year for the last six years an anonymous benefactor has sent her a large lustrous pearl. Now it appears the sender of the pearls would like to meet her to right a wrong.

But when Sherlock Holmes and his faithful sidekick Watson, aiding Miss Marston, attend the assignation, they embark on a dark and mysterious adventure involving a one-legged ruffian, some hidden treasure, deadly poison darts and a thrilling race along the River Thames.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord

Title: When We Collided
Author: Emery Lord
Publisher:  Bloomsbury Children's
Pages: 352
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

Seventeen year old Jonah Daniels has lived in Verona Cove, California, his whole life, and only one thing has ever changed: his father used to be alive, and now he's not. Now Jonah must numbly take care of his family as they reel from their tragedy. Cue next change: Vivi Alexander, new girl in town.

Vivi is in love with life. A gorgeous and unfiltered hurricane of thoughts and feelings. She seems like she's from another planet as she transforms Jonah's family and changes his life. But there are always consequences when worlds collide…

Friday, 12 May 2017

Review: Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O'Toole

Title: Girls Will Be Girls
Author: Emer O'Toole
Publisher:  Orion
Pages: 288
Genres: Non-fiction, Memoir

Being a woman is, largely, about performance - how we dress and modify our bodies, what we say, the roles we play, and how we conform to expectations. Gender stereotypes are still deeply embedded in our society, but Emer O'Toole is on a mission to re-write the old script and bend the rules of gender - and she shows how and why we should all be joining in.

Exploring what it means to 'act like a girl', Emer takes us on a hilarious and thought-provoking journey through her life (including singing 'Get Your Pits Out for the Lads' on national TV after growing out her body hair). Cross-dressing, booty-shaking, sexual disasters, family dinners and full-body waxing are all lovingly dissected in search of wisdom.

With game-changing ideas, academic intelligence and laugh-out-loud humour, this book will open your mind and revolutionise the way that you think about gender.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Review: A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Title: A Little Princess
Author: Frances Hodgson Burnett
Publisher:  Puffin in Bloom
Pages: 320
Genres: Classics, Childrens

Alone in a new country, wealthy Sara Crewe tries to settle in and make friends at boarding school. But when she learns that she’ll never see her beloved father gain, her life is turned upside down. Transformed from princess to pauper, she must swap dancing lessons and luxury for hard work and a room in the attic. Will she find that kindness and genorosity are all the riches she truly needs?

April 2017 - Reading Wrap Up

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Review: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Title: A Court of Wings and Ruin
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #3
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Pages: 699
Genres: Fantasy, Romance

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit-and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords-and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

The earth will be painted red as mighty armies grapple for power over the one thing that could destroy them all.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Review: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Title: Great Expectations
Author: Charles Dickens
Publisher:  Wordsworth Classics
Pages: 432
Genres: Classics

Considered by many to be Dickens' finest novel, Great Expectations traces the growth of the book's narrator, Philip Pirrip (Pip), from a boy of shallow dreams to a man with depth of character. From its famous dramatic opening on the bleak Kentish marshes, the story abounds with some of Dickens' most memorable characters. Among them are the kindly blacksmith Joe Gargery, the mysterious convict Abel Magwitch, the eccentric Miss Havisham and her beautiful ward Estella, Pip's good-hearted room-mate Herbert Pocket and the pompous Pumblechook. As Pip unravels the truth behind his own ‘great expectations’ in his quest to become a gentleman, the mysteries of the past and the convolutions of fate through a series of thrilling adventures serve to steer him towards maturity and his most important discovery of all - the truth about himself.

Review: The Arrival of Missives by Aliya Whiteley

Title: The Arrival of Missives
Author: Aliya Whiteley
Publisher:  Unsung Stories
Pages: 128
Genres: Science Fiction, Soft, Speculative

The Arrival of Missives is a genre-defying story of fate, free-will and the choices we make in life. In the aftermath of the Great War, Shirley Fearn dreams of challenging the conventions of rural England, where life is as predictable as the changing of the seasons.

The scarred veteran Mr. Tiller, left disfigured by an impossible accident on the battlefields of France, brings with him a message: part prophecy, part warning. Will it prevent her mastering her own destiny?

As the village prepares for the annual May Day celebrations, where a new queen will be crowned and the future will be reborn again, Shirley must choose: change or renewal?

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Review: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Title: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: and Other Lessons From the Crematorium
Authors: Caitlin Doughty
Publisher: Canongate
Pages: 272
Genres: Non-fiction, Memoir

From her first day at Westwind Cremation & Burial, twenty-three-year-old Caitlin Doughty threw herself into her curious new profession. Coming face-to-face with the very thing we go to great lengths to avoid thinking about she started to wonder about the lives of those she cremated and the mourning families they left behind, and found herself confounded by people's erratic reactions to death. Exploring our death rituals - and those of other cultures - she pleads the case for healthier attitudes around death and dying. Full of bizarre encounters, gallows humour and vivid characters (both living and very dead), this illuminating account makes this otherwise terrifying subject inviting and fascinating.