Wednesday, 19 July 2017

5* BOOK REVIEW | 'Release' by Patrick Ness

Hey guys, and happy Wednesday! Today I am really excited to share with you a review of a brilliant book I read about two weeks ago. This book has been one of my most eagerly anticipated books of this year, and I requested this as soon as it appeared in my inbox! Unfortunately I had to wait until I got back from uni to tear it out of it's packaging and dive right in... but it was as fabulous as I anticipated so definitely worth the wait!

I was kindly sent Release by Walker Books in exchange for an honest review <3

Release follows a day in the life of seventeen-year-old Adam Thorn, a day that becomes probably the most eventful and monumental day he has experienced in his life so far. It is a day coloured by misfortune, betrayal and heartache, but also a day where Adam realises the strength of the tie of friendship and how, even on the darkest of days, it can stop you from drowning when there is nothing else holding you up. 

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Inspired by Mrs Dalloway and Judy Blume's Forever, Release is one day in the life of Adam Thorn, 17. It's a big day. Things go wrong. It's intense, and all the while, weirdness approaches...

Adam Thorn is having what will turn out to be the most unsettling, difficult day of his life, with relationships fracturing, a harrowing incident at work, and a showdown between this gay teen and his preacher father that changes everything. It's a day of confrontation, running, sex, love, heartbreak, and maybe, just maybe, hope. He won't come out of it unchanged. And all the while, lurking at the edges of the story, something extraordinary and unsettling is on a collision course. 

I didn't really know what to expect from this, as the only other Patrick Ness book I have read is More Than This, and I also had mixed feelings when I read Mrs. Dalloway, however this book completely and utterly blew me away. There is something thoroughly magical about Ness' writing. The book hooked me in from the very first page and I felt compelled to keep reading until the very last page. And it's not only the writing, but the storyline is also irresistible. The book as an entirety is not only an absolute joy to read but is urgent and almost demands to be read. Release is the perfect cocktail of an enjoyable story with fantastic characters, mixed in with important issues such as friendship, acceptance, religion and LGBTQ* issues, and the ways in which people are discriminated against. 

Adam Thorn's story was hard-hitting and beautifully and sensitively written, and also made me extremely angry. The furious plight of a teenage boy to be accepted, in a situation where he shouldn't have to be fighting for it, was hard to read, but it is also important to read about these situations as they are anything but fictitious. 

I loved the portrayal of the friendship between Adam and Angela. Not a lot of YA focuses on the absolute essentiality of teenage friendship, and Patrick Ness illustrated this friendship perfectly. Angela was shown to be the person who Adam could talk about absolutely anything with, without fear of judgement or indifference. Angela was such a fantastic character and I could read a whole book about her.

I know a lot of reviewers have been unimpressed with the magical realism side story, but I loved it. Of course, I think Release still would have made sense and been a great book without it, however it was a great way to add an otherworldly element into the story, and to also show another case of a toxic relationship, much like Adam's relationship with his parents, and his parents' toxic relationship with their religion. I really enjoyed this intermission between the chapters detailing Adam's story, and I'm very glad Ness chose to include it. I think magical realism very much suits his writing style.

Overall, I adored Release and it has made me want to go and pick up all of Ness' other books immediately! If you enjoy YA, LGBTQ* books, and Patrick Ness' other work I would highly recommend that you check this book out.

Check out Patrick Ness here:

Until next time :) 

Monday, 17 July 2017

BOOK REVIEW | 'The Opposite of You' by Lou Morgan (***.5)

Hi guys, and happy Monday! Today I am very excited to be back with a book review, of a book I read about a month ago, but until now I just haven't had the time to sit down at my laptop and write the review!

Today the book I am going to be reviewing is The Opposite of You by Lou Morgan. The Opposite of You follows twins Naomi and Bex as they navigate their teenage years, with all the complications that being a twin throws up. When they were younger they were completely inseparable, however at the same time that they have grown up, they have also grown apart. When Naomi runs away from home, Bex is forced to confront the uncomfortable reality... when was the exact point that everything changed?

I was kindly sent The Opposite of You by Stripes Publishing in exchange for an honest review <3

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Bex and her identical twin sister Naomi used to be close. They used to be able to finish each other’s sentences, used to know exactly what the other was thinking. They were a matching pair.

And then something changed.

But Bex didn’t even realise until it was too late. When Naomi walks out of the house the night before their last GCSE exam and doesn’t come back, Bex has to think hard about how to find her.

What happens next will force Bex to unpick their shared history and the memories, following Naomi’s trail through their family, their past and all the way to the blinding lights of the Hemisphere music festival. Everything she thought she knew is called into question.

With her worries dismissed by their parents and ignored by her friends (and with Naomi's friends nowhere to be found) the only person Bex can trust is a stranger – Josh – as she tries to piece together a picture of the person she thought she shared everything with. Naomi's been leading another life, one Bex doesn't recognize... and it's led her straight into the path of Max: someone else who is not what they appear.

As Bex chases Naomi, she realizes it isn’t just whether she can find her twin: it’s whether she knows her at all.

And whether she still wants to.

I haven't read a lot of books including twins before, and I was eager to get stuck into this as the story is something unlike anything I have read before. Morgan presented the bond between twins so well and this aspect of the book was excellently explored, as well as the kind of supernatural element, which was interesting and gave a sharp edge to the story. I thought that the different characters of Naomi and Bex were really well created; the dynamic between them was interesting to read about. In fact, the family relationships in this book as a whole were realistically portrayed and sensitively explored. I feel like any teenager would be able to relate to the way that Naomi and Bex feel, and be able to understand the kind of experiences they go through in the book. 

Another part of the book that I enjoyed were the flashbacks to the past when Bex and Naomi were children - I felt like these moments gave a very important backdrop to the current situation of Naomi running away. However, I wish there was more of a build-up at the beginning of the book, exploring in greater depth Bex and Naomi's relationship as teenagers, and also their relationship with their parents. I really liked the development of the plot throughout, however I thought that the beginning and the end of the book was slightly rushed. I would have liked to see how Bex and Naomi's relationship changed at all as a result of what occurred in the story, and this for me would have brought the story to a nice, satisfying close.

However overall, I really did enjoy The Opposite of You and it is definitely a book you can race through on your summer holidays! It is a gripping mystery with a fantastic set of characters and the importance of family relationships at it's heart.

Buy The Opposite of You here:

Check out Lou Morgan here:

Until next time :)

Thursday, 13 July 2017

DELIGHTFUL KIDS BOOKS | 5* REVIEW | 'St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies' by Karen McCombie

Hey guys, and happy Thursday! Today I am very excited to be back with my children's book feature, to celebrate the publication of another brilliant children's book! Today I am going to be reviewing the second book in Karen McCombie's wonderful St Grizzle's series: St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies! I was delighted to be part of the blog tour for this book, where Karen McCombie wrote a letter to her younger self <3 Check that post out here

If you want to check out my review for the first St Grizzle's book in the series, check that out here.

I was kindly sent St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies by Stripes Publishing, in exchange for an honest review :) 

St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies is a brilliant sequel to the first book, which follows Dani as she finds herself sent to St Grizzelda's school for girls as her Mum makes her trip to the Antarctic, to study penguin bottoms. Things have gotten a little bit exciting in the meantime, however, as Lulu has shared with her pupils a fantastic project - to make a film about their local area, to be shown as part of a screening. Film-maker pro Dani has some great ideas, but can she bring herself to let the others join in? And who's the witch in the tree house with the crazy red hair? 

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

When local schools are asked to make a film showcasing the surrounding area, Dani and the rest of St Grizzle’s set to work. But Spencer and his mates at the village school are determined to sabotage the work of the smelly Grizzlers.

To Dani’s surprise, help comes in the form of Granny Viv who has secretly taken up residence in the school’s tree house with Downboy the dog. Together they come up with the perfect ghostly video ... but will Granny Viv be able to stay once the competition’s over?

Although my review of the first book in the series was also a 5* review, I think that this one definitely tops the first one! It was so nice getting re-introduced to the characters, and I think that the characterisation of everyone was so well built-upon in this book. I loved Dani, Lulu and Granny Viv even more in this book - if that was even possible! I think all the characters in this book are so well-crafted and are individually all hilarious, heartwarming and wonderful. 

I think the story is also fantastically paced and the storyline brilliant and carefully plotted. There was something happening on every single page; McCombie hooks her readers in from the very first page and doesn't let them go until the very last. I loved the combination of worlds in this book (the inclusion of Downboy and Granny Viv) and I think this added such a great element into the story.

Overall, I can't see anything to dislike in this book - everything is wonderful and when I was reading it I felt such a happy warm glow in my stomach - the St Grizzle's series is charmingly hilarious and deliciously smart. 

I think this book suits kids of all ages to be honest - it can be read aloud for a bedtime story, or older children can read it for themselves!

Make sure you guys check out the links at the beginning of this review and down below <3

Buy St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies here:

Check out Karen McCombie here:

Until next time :)

Monday, 19 June 2017

BOOK REVIEW | 'October is the Coldest Month' by Christoffer Carlsson (****)

Hi guys, and happy Monday! Today I am very excited to be sharing with you a review of a fab book I read last week, called October is the Coldest Month by Christoffer Carlsson. It is my first scandi noir book, and it gripped me so much I read it in just one day! This book was released on the 8th June, and I'd highly recommend that, whether you normally like crime/murder novels or not, to go and pick up this book. 

I received October is the Coldest Month by the lovely people at Scribe Publishing, in exchange for an honest review :)

October is the Coldest Month follows sixteen-year-old Vega Gillberg, who inadvertently becomes involved in a murder. When her brother Jakob disappears, Vega realises that he is in way deeper than she ever imagined, and makes it her mission to find out what's going on, and who is to blame for the murder. They live in a small town, and in small towns stories spread easily; secrets are hard to hide. Will Vega uncover the truth, or will this one particular lie exist to haunt her forever?

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Vega Gillberg is 16 years old when the police come knocking on the door looking for her older brother, Jakob.

Vega hasn’t heard from him in days, but she has to find him before the police do. Jakob was involved in a terrible crime. What no one knows is that Vega was there, too.

In the rural Swedish community where the Gillbergs live, life is tough, the people are even tougher, and old feuds never die. As Vega sets out to find her brother, she must survive a series of threatening encounters in a deadly landscape. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s dealing with the longing she feels for a boy that she has sworn to forget, and the mixed-up feelings she has for her brother’s best friend.

During a damp, raw week in October, the door to the adult world swings open, and Vega realises that once she has crossed the threshold there is no turning back.

From bestselling Swedish crime-writer Christoffer Carlsson.

I loved this book! I have never read a Swedish crime novel before, yet this book totally worked for me and I was completely sucked in. The characters were so gritty, edgy and believable, and the writing echoed this. It was cold and dark, yet at the same time lyrically beautiful. Carlsson writes in such an evocative way, and I was entranced.

The idea of the small, close knit community was something so well explored in this book, and so interesting to read about. All the characters had such interesting interactions and relationships with each other and I feel like the reader was given such an intimate insight into this community. 

Before I started reading this, I was hoping for vivid, haunting descriptions of scene and setting (seeing as it is a scandi noir!) and I was delighted to see that I was not disappointed. Carlsson creates a world so dark and impenetrable that the reader is completely immersed in this world, and all the hidden secrets that come with it.

I thought the story itself was impeccably crafted and I was impressed by the twist at the end. I did feel slightly left on a cliff-hanger as to Tom and Vega's relationship - throughout the novel she was presented as such a strong and determined character when it came to investigating the murder and uncovering the secrets of the people around her, yet I never really saw her condemning Tom's treatment of her. I thought her character was developed really well, however were just a few issues for me as to how she wasn't presented as a particularly resilient and staunch female character. 

However, overall I adored this book and it's a fantastic story to completely lose yourself in. It's out now, so run to your nearest bookshop and pick it up!

Until next time :)

Thursday, 15 June 2017

DELIGHTFUL KIDS BOOKS | BLOG TOUR | St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies | Dear My Younger Self...

Hey guys, and happy Thursday! Today I am so excited to be writing another post for my children's book feature - this time with a guest post for a blog tour! 

Today I am going to be talking about the wonderful St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies by the equally wonderful Karen McCombie (let's also not forget the fab illustrations by Becka Moor!) Just after Christmas I read and reviewed the first book in the series: St Grizzles School for Girls, Goats and Random Boys, and absolutely adored it! You can read my review here. So when Stripes Publishing got in touch to ask if I was interested in reading the next book, I couldn't say yes fast enough!

Check out the blurb for St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies here:

When local schools are asked to make a film showcasing the surrounding area, Dani and the rest of St Grizzle’s set to work. But Spencer and his mates at the village school are determined to sabotage the work of the smelly Grizzlers.

To Dani’s surprise, help comes in the form of Granny Viv who has secretly taken up residence in the school’s tree house with Downboy the dog. Together they come up with the perfect ghostly video ... but will Granny Viv be able to stay once the competition’s over?

I haven't had the chance to read this yet, but when I do, I'm sure it will be just as heartwarming and hilarious as the first book!

In the meantime, here is a post by Karen McCombie, with a message for the younger her...

Dear My Younger Self…*

I love how you loved to play for hours, making family, friends and communities out of not just your toys, but anything around the house that wasn’t nailed down. 

Random buttons from the big button tin in the sideboard was a favourite, I remember. 
But you really went to town in the bathroom, schlepping every bottle, jar and tub out of the there on a tray and spending forever on your knees on the living room floor, creating soap operas for all the characters (the posh Perfume Bottle family were so mean to the hardworking Moisturisers, weren’t they?). 

Mum and Dad were pretty cool for not sniggering out loud, especially when they found tiny scribbled bits of paper taped to the bottom of every item on the bathroom shelves, each scribble a carefully chosen character name (Trixie the Talcum Powder, Fernando the Shaving Foam)…

I also loved how you completely loved books, after a false start when no-one spotted your partial deafness. You were a bit scared of words and reading in your first couple of years of school, weren’t you? Reading seemed like a puzzle everyone understood but you, when really, you were just in a fug of panic, unsure what was going on around you in the classroom half the time.

And I loved that you loved stories so much that you pushed through your crippling shyness and auditioned for school plays, desperate to be in the middle of an acted-out story, as well as losing yourself between the pages of books.

Would you be surprised to know that all the childhood reading, acting and story-spinning with assorted shampoos, nail varnishes and Syrup of Figs bottles added up to a Proper Job one day? 

‘Cause here’s the thing; I’m an actual author.

And it’s all down to you, you kooky, shy, brave little person… Thanks!


Your Older Self, the Big Grown-up Karen McCombie

* I nicked this title from my daughter – it’s the name of a song she’s written on her gukelele (yes, that’s a thing – Google it).

Karen McCombie is the best-selling author of more than 80 books. The second in her fabulously funny ‘St Grizzle’s’ series –‘St Grizzle’s School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies’ – is out now, from Stripes. 

Thanks so much for appearing on my blog, Karen!

Make sure you guys check out the other posts on the blog tour <3

Buy St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies here:

Check out Karen McCombie here:

Until next time :)

Monday, 12 June 2017

BOOK REVIEW | 'Troublemakers' by Catherine Barter (****)

Hi guys, and happy Monday! Today I am very excited to be reviewing a book for you, in what feels like a very long time! Last week I finished my second year of university, so I am so excited to catch up on the reviews I need to write, and tackle the huuuuuge TBR I have for my summer holidays! 

The first book I am going to be reviewing for you guys is Troublemakers by Catherine Barter. I hadn't heard about this book before, however when I spoke to the wonderful people at Andersen Press, who suggested that Troublemakers would be the perfect book to be included in a brand new feature I am curating at the moment. 

Troublemakers is a wonderful new YA debut following Alena, who has never met her mother, yet she has a hold on her that Alena just does not understand. She lives with her half brother Danny and his boyfriend Nick, as she always has done, yet recently, things have been more tense than usual. The 'East-End Bomber' is loose around London, and it's something Nick and Danny can't shelter Alena from any longer. Coupled with this is Alena's urge to find out more about herself, and where she comes from. Starting with Alena's mother. But there are secrets locked in the past, and how to discover them is anything but simple.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Fifteen-year-old Alena never really knew her political activist mother, who died when she was a baby. She has grown up with her older half-brother Danny and his boyfriend Nick in the east end of London. Now the area is threatened by a bomber who has been leaving explosive devices in supermarkets. It is only a matter of time before a bomb goes off. 
Against this increasingly fearful backdrop, Alena seeks to discover more about her past, while Danny takes a job working for a controversial politician. As her family life implodes, and the threat to Londoners mounts, Alena starts getting into trouble. Then she does something truly rebellious.

A searing, heartbreaking coming-of-age tale for fans of Lisa Williamson, Jenny Downham and Sarah Crossan.

I absolutely loved this book. It is definitely unlike any YA I have read before - Troublemakers has such a unique storyline and a distinctive, relatable voice. I loved the character of Alena and I thought she was so well written and a very realistic teenager character. She is intelligent and thoughtful and determined; YA should have more female characters like Alena. This is not only an incredibly interesting but also a very different and diverse book. I have never read a book with a sister/brother sort of parent relationship, and although this is shocking, I don't think I've read a book featuring a gay couple as some of the principle characters. All of the characters were so well-rounded, interesting, but also intensely realistic. They're the kind of characters who you could imagine living just down your road.

The writing style and the dialogue were probably my favourite parts of the book. Barter writes in such a fresh, contemporary, uncomplicated way. The dialogue really helped me imagine the characters and feel more connected to them.

Troublemakers is a distinctly modern book that tackles many of the social and political issues that concern us today. I love it how a YA book isn't afraid to tackle and explore these issues from a teenager's perspective. Also the feminist history was something I really enjoyed reading about, and it will definitely inspire readers who have not come across the Greenham Common women to go off and research and find out more about them.

Overall I loved this book, I enjoyed the mysterious element of Alena trying to find out about her family, I loved the characters and the fact that the book was so interesting and diverse, and the writing was effortless and invigorating. For a debut novel this is an absolute star, and I can't wait to read more from Catherine Barter.

This is definitely a book to get your hands on this summer! 

Check out Catherine Barter here:

Until next time :)

Thursday, 8 June 2017

DELIGHTFUL KIDS BOOKS | 5* BOOK REVIEW | 'Doodle Cat Is Bored' by Kat Patrick and Lauren Marriott

Hi guys, and happy Thursday! Today I am so excited to be back with my children's book feature! I have been sent lots of wonderful kids books recently so I cannot wait to share them with all of you as part of this feature - keep an eye out ;)

Today the book I am going to be reviewing is Doodle Cat Is Bored by the wonderful Kat Patrick and Lauren Marriott. Some of you might remember when I featured I Am Doodle Cat waaaaay back in April last year - it was the first children's book I reviewed on my blog, so this character has quite a special place in my heart!

If you want to read my review of I Am Doodle Cat, check out this link

Doodle Cat Is Bored follows the hilarious and unforgettable character of Doodle Cat, as he finds himself caught in the worst nightmare any child can find themselves in... He is bored. No one will listen to him, and no one cares. That is, until Doodle Cat finds a crayon. And suddenly his dull, black-and-white world is transformed into an adventure of colour, silliness and imagination.

Check out the blurb here...

Doodle Cat is back and he is very bored. Until he finds a thing! But what is this thing and what does it do?

Following on from their debut picture book I Am Doodle Cat, writer Kat Patrick and illustrator Lauren Marriott have created another hilarious tale featuring the irreverent bright red squiggle who loves just about everything.

Bursting with imagination and fun, Doodle Cat returns to remind us to be curious, creative and to explore every option.

I thoroughly enjoyed I Am Doodle Cat, and I was so pleased to find that I enjoyed this book just as much as the first one. Doodle Cat is such a loveable, wonderfully mischievous character that your children will love. The feeling of boredom is something every energetic kid (and their tired parents) will relate to and the story is a joy to read aloud, to kids both young and a bit older.

I love how the book transforms from simple, black and white drawings to delightfully crazy and colourful pages as Doodle Cat discovers the wonder of creativity. Just like the first book, this book has such positive messages such as the importance of playing and being creative, and how fun discovering new things can be!

Doodle Cat Is Bored is wonderfully funny, clever and heartwarming, and the illustrations make the book that bit more delightful. There are loads of silly fart and bum jokes that kids will split their sides over!

I'd recommend this book for children for 0-4 years, it's the perfect story for bored kids!

Check out the author, Kat Patrick here:

Check out the illustrator, Lauren Marriott here:

Buy Doodle Cat Is Bored here:

Until next time :)