BOOK BOX CLUB BLOGGER’S ARMY!

Hey everyone!

For those following my Instagram you may have seen that I was recently selected to be a member of the Book Box Club Blogger’s Army!

Make sure you head over to the Book Box Club website to check out their subscription options, and lucky for you us Blogger Army recruits have a lovely discount code to share with you:

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You can get discount on your first Purely Books or Book Box Club subscription! (5% off a three month Purely Books Subscription or month-to-month Book Box Club subscription).

So back in April I received my Purely Books Blogger Army parcel and it was so perfect! I’d had my eye on the book for a while so as you can imagine it was a lovely surprise for that one to arrive!

Delivery and Packaging.

Something I’ve always loved about Book Box Club is the packaging – they wrap each book individually in really cute silver wrapping paper and tie it off with a bow, and it’s little details like this that make you feel like you’re a really valued member of their club!

Book Box Club is UK based, and as I’m also UK based this parcel arrived safe and sound in just 2 days!

The Book.

BookBoxClubBloggerArmy.PNGThe Purely Books option is for those people just after a mystery book each month – it’s the same featured read as in the classic subscription box just without the goodies! And being just a book it is likely to fit through your letter box too! April’s book was The Hand, The Eye, & The Heart by Zoë Marriott which sounds (and looks) like an amazing read! I’ve included the Goodreads synopsis below:

Zhilan was assigned female at birth; despite an unusual gift for illusions, they know they will live out their life in the perfumed confines of the women’s quarters. But when civil war sets the country aflame, Zhilan is the only one who can save their disabled Father from death on the battlefield.

By taking his place.

Surviving brutal army training as a male recruit – Zhi – is only the first challenge. Soon Zhi’s unique talents draw them into an even more perilous fight, in the glittering court of the Land of Dragons, where love and betrayal are two sides of the same smile. The fate of an Empire rests on Zhi’s shoulders. But to win, they must first decide where their loyalty, and their heart, truly belongs.

What’s Next?

So although this option is called Purely Books you do also receive a little personalised invitation to the book group night where you can chat to the other members and the author of our April featured read! I think this is such a great way to meet others in the book community – what better way to bond than over a love for books and a shared current read?

I adore meeting authors and chatting about their books with them, but I do appreciate not everyone lives near big cities and therefore don’t have the opportunities for book signings and talks like I do (I grew up in a small village, and was 22 when I went to my first event!) so I love the idea of being able to connect with an author in an exclusive book-club environment from the comfort of your sofa!

Schedule:

I’ll be writing another blog post following the book group night so stay tuned!

A huge thank you to Book Box Club for selecting me to be part of their Blogger Army, and for the lovely Purely Books parcel!

And thank you to all you lovely people for reading! x

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BLOG TOUR: SMOKE IN THE GLASS – CHRIS HUMPHREYS

Author: Chris Humphreys
Title: Smoke in the Glass
Publisher: Gollancz
Genre: Historical Fantasy, High Fantasy
Pages: 400
Overall Rating: 4.5/5

I received a review copy of Smoke in the Glass from Gollancz in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions in this post are entirely my own.

A world of immortals living among humans. Anyone may be immortal, but there is no way to know until you die. If you are one of the very lucky few, you will live an endless life of pleasure and power, considered to be a god. Only decapitation and the rapid separation of body and head for a few days can kill an immortal.

In the southlands, a common soldier dies and is reborn, and is inducted into the world of the immortals. But the Empire has become decadent, and what he discovers there will shock him.

In the dry lands of the west, one man has set himself up as the sun god. But there is a prophecy that he will be killed by his son – and so all of his male children are killed at birth. Until his most recent wife bears a child who is nether male nor female, and is determined to protect them from sacrifice.

In the cold north, the immortal Luck – clever, tricksy, clubfooted – harbours suspicions that many of the immortals have been killed. When he intervenes in an attack on one of his fellows, he realises something new. Someone is hunting the Gods.

For there is a fourth land. They know of the other three. And they are planning their attack.

Our three heroes – damaged soldier, protective mother, clever cripple – must find a way to unite their different lands, and defend against this new enemy.


It’s my stop on the blog tour for Smoke in the Glass! And I’m so excited to share my thoughts on this book with you. I first heard of this book at the Gollancz 2019 preview event earlier this year and knew I needed to read it. This book takes aspects from some really fascinating times in history to provide the foundations for the four lands including Old Norse and Ancient Mayan cultures.

Intro:

This is a lot of world building and scene setting but also really gripping. I thought with the level of detail the author used here it would be quite saturated but Chris managed to find a balance between that and action to keep the reader engaged. I absolutely loved being introduced to all the worlds and seeing the difference between the immortals – how each of the lands treated them, how they treated each other, and how they looked at life because of their “superiority” was really intriguing.

Each was totally unique and created a really interesting depth to the story; I also felt that this was a good indication of the way that particular society and land behaved, their morals and their priorities.

Middle:

I just wish this book was longer because I could’ve read all about this world and the events forever! I want to tell you all about it but promise to keep my reviews spoiler free (unless I specify). Basically the action does not let up, as the stakes become higher the tension rises and I couldn’t consume it fast enough. I loved the character development here; quieter characters coming out of their shells, more confident characters embracing roles and finding their new place in the world.

End:

I adored how this book came together and I’m so excited for the next in the series. Smoke in the Glass provided a satisfying conclusion to this book whilst simultaneously setting up for book 2 perfectly. Just a superb ending to a really great book!

Characters:

It was great to see interactions between such contrasting characters, and I loved that they were all so individual. Like the scenery they are brought to life expertly, and each contribute to the realistic nature of this story. There’s a whole host of characters, back stories, and their own little sun plots which I absolutely adore.

General Comments:

Each chapter takes you across to one of the other lands so you’re continually rotating your location; this did take some getting used to at the start along with the language but I soon got used to it. I came to really love the rich detail provided throughout the narrative; it was so vibrant and made this whole world seem so realistic. This was likely helped by the fact much of the culture was based on world history and ancient groups but to be able to merge them so seamlessly is just a credit to the author’s talents. It was also really amusing in places – I had a few snorts as I tried to hold a laugh on the quiet zone of the train!

Overall I’m awarding this 4.5* – I’m hesitant to give it the full 5 stars purely due to getting used to the narrative and skipping between locations at the start. But aside from that, it’s a highly entertaining fantasy read and I would highly recommend it to fans of adult fantasy. It will pull you head first into the world and you will never want to leave! (I might be slightly biased here as a fan of historical fiction too)

Some trigger warnings: Rape, and non-consent.

A huge thank you to Gollancz publishing for sending me this stunning review copy! I have adored reading this and cannot wait for book number 2!

ARC REVIEW: EMILY ETERNAL – M.G. WHEATON

Author: M.G. Wheaton
Title: Emily Eternal
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Sci-Fi
Pages: 256
Overall Rating: 3.5/5

I received a review copy of Emily Eternal from Hodder & Stoughton in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions in this post are entirely my own.

Meet Emily – she can solve advanced mathematical problems, unlock the mind’s deepest secrets and even fix your truck’s air con, but unfortunately, she can’t restart the Sun.

She’s an artificial consciousness, designed in a lab to help humans process trauma, which is particularly helpful when the sun begins to die 5 billion years before scientists agreed it was supposed to.

So, her beloved human race is screwed, and so is Emily. That is, until she finds a potential answer buried deep in the human genome. But before her solution can be tested, her lab is brutally attacked, and Emily is forced to go on the run with two human companions – college student Jason and small-town Sheriff, Mayra.

As the sun’s death draws near, Emily and her friends must race against time to save humanity. But before long it becomes clear that it’s not only the species at stake, but also that which makes us most human.

EmilyEternal_cover.jpgThe Intro:

I really enjoyed this introduction, I had heard that it got a little confusing with the science/techy terms but I honestly found it easy to follow – [note: I work in technology and studied maths at uni…] – but as long as you don’t try to think about how it all works too much you’ll be fine.

The Middle:

The pace picked up more here – I found the beginning a little slow; granted a lot of time and care was taken to ensure the characters were introduced and the background story explained but I found my attention wavering. As I said, it gets up to speed more in the middle section of the book, and it’s also the part where characters come into their own. At the start they are more 2-dimensional; their backstories are told and we get a brief introduction to each of the main characters but it’s only when we reach the middle that we start to see them as individuals.

There were unfortunately a few events however that didn’t really resonate with me – they were supposed to but I found myself too detached from individuals to be really moved by what happened. So for me the pace kind of ebbed and flowed with some really tense and gripping scenes, and others that fell a little short.

The Ending:

This was overall a really strong ending – the suspense built in the middle section of the book was rewarded with a really gripping ending. There was one tiny detail that for me was just too far fetched but looking over that I thought the ending was superb.

I don’t think it tied all the loose ends together, so I do have some questions remaining but for the main storyline and characters I can safely say that it was well rounded. It’s the more minor details that felt a little unfinished.

Characters:

Emily is quite a loveable character – if somewhat robotic… I get she’s supposed to be an artificial consciousness but I’d assume she had to pass the Turing Test for the project? To me she sometimes just came across as a little too perfect. Her internal conflicts seemed realistic enough but interactions with other people seemed a little flat.

The others I would’ve liked to know better but given the brevity of the story (less than 300 pages) I think it’s fair to assume there just wasn’t room to expand on these personalities.

Narrative:

The narrative flows well in this story, and the author actually does a really good job of explaining the artificial consciousness and keeping within its boundaries. It’s a tricky subject to approach particularly when the protagonist of the story is the artificial consciousness. I had heard some people say it was confusing for them with all the technical jargon – personally I didn’t think this was the case; it’s something you can’t look into too much and you kind of have to accept it being there – it is after all, futuristic technology.

Summary:

This was overall a pretty enjoyable read – I would’ve liked to see a more human side to Emily, in my opinion she was just a little robotic in certain scenarios. she lacked the imperfections needed to make her “human”, and therefore it was tricky to connect with her. I didn’t dislike her but being the main character I would’ve liked to have some kind of bond with her – particularly given the secondary characters aren’t that well known.

Overall I’m awarding this 3.5/5.

ARC REVIEW: THE PIONEER – BRIDGET TYLER

Author: Bridget Tyler
Title: The Pioneer
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Overall Rating: 3.5/5

I received a review copy of The Pioneer in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions in this post are entirely my own.

When Jo steps onto Tau Ceti E, it should be the happiest moment of her life. After all, she’s been training for as long as she can remember to be a cadet pilot in the International Space Agency. She’s dreamed of the day she and her family would leave Earth forever and begin life as pioneers on a new planet.

But now she can’t stop thinking of everything that has gone wrong on their mission: the terrible accident that nearly destroyed their craft, that set their voyage back years, that killed her brother, that left her unable to fly…

As Jo struggles to live with her grief and figure out who she’s going to be now, she falls in love with her new world. It isn’t hard. Jo’s team is camped out by a pristine, tumbling river at the base of a mountain range that looks like huge prisms buried in the prairie. The soring crystal peaks transform every sunset into rainbows full of colors human eyes have never seen before. And that’s just the beginning. Tau offers Jo and her family a lifetime of beauty and adventure.

Jo throws herself into helping her team, lead by her commander mother, establish their community on this amazing new world. But just when she starts to feel like her old self again, she uncovers a devastating secret her mother has been keeping from her people. A secret that could destroy her family’s pioneering dreams…if they survive that long.
With the fate of the pioneers in her hands, Jo must decide how far she’s willing to go to expose the truth — before the truth destroys them all.

ThePioneer_cover.jpgThe Intro:

This book starts off with an absolute killer of an intro. And the world being developed is really intriguing. It’s set on a future earth, where they’re planning to take people off planet, to start new lives on Tau Ceti E. And I love space travel. I love that we’re immediately introduced to our protagonist, Jo, and that you instantly get a measure of her character and persona.

The Middle:

This is where things got a bit weird for me… And all a little bit too cheesy. I love a good space opera but I started to feel a little disconnected from the characters. The build up at the beginning seemed to be achieving little as they began to shrink back into their shells, made really run-of-the-mill comments etc.

I did, however, love the world building that happens here. Tau Ceti Ehas been so perfectly created it was easy to put myself on the surface, and into Jo’s shoes. Additionally the author has concentrated on so many tiny details – technology, flora, clothing; this for me was one of the strongest aspects of the story.

The Ending:

This saved the rating of the book for me, whilst I wasn’t entirely buying into the plant-life thing, it was a good ending.

Characters:

They starts off so well, but following the… catastrophe… they just seemed to become quite 2-dimensional. I realise that they had to change; the incident having a profound effect on them all, but it was a strange depiction, it’s almost like they all reacted in the same way and consequently became more alike than they were before. They just lost their vibrancy and never seemed to regain it.

There’s a little bit of a romance going on, but amongst the crazy action there’s little time for this to flourish. It’s clear that this is setting up for later books though and I’m kind of rooting for them despite not being a romance-storyline-lover.

Narrative:

Though the character voices came across a little flat, the descriptions were really excellent, as were the action scenes. The plot of this book is quite something (was going to make a joke about warp speed but I’ll refrain) and this is one of the things that keeps the reader engaged. Even though I lost interest in the character individually I was interested to find out the outcome of the story as a whole.

Summary:

I think I’m going to give this a 3.5/5; I wanted to love it but being unable to really invest in the characters was an issue for me. I think I’ll be reading the next book though, because I think they all have room to grow, and I’m hoping they do in the later books. Tau Ceti E is an absolute masterpiece and the author deserves huge recognition for being able to develop a world so vibrant. It’s a cheesily-good space opera, and likely setting up for later books.

Thank you to Harper360UK for the review copy!

ARC REVIEW: TO THE BEST BOYS – MARY WEBER

Author: Mary Weber
Title: To The Best Boys
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 333
Overall Rating: 4.5/5

I received an e-ARC from Thomas Nelson via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions in this post are entirely my own.

Every year for the past fifty-four years, the residents of Pinsbury Port receive a mysterious letter inviting all eligible-aged boys to compete for an esteemed scholarship to the all-male Stemwick University. Every year, the poorer residents look to see that their names are on the list. The wealthier look to see how likely their sons are to survive. And Rhen Tellur opens it to see if she can derive which substances the ink and parchment are created from, using her father’s microscope.

In the province of Caldon, where women are trained in wifely duties and men are encouraged into collegiate education, sixteen-year-old Rhen Tellur wants nothing more than to become a scientist. As the poor of her seaside town fall prey to a deadly disease, she and her father work desperately to find a cure. But when her Mum succumbs to it as well? Rhen decides to take the future into her own hands—through the annual all-male scholarship competition.

With her cousin, Seleni, by her side, the girls don disguises and enter Mr. Holm’s labyrinth, to best the boys and claim the scholarship prize. Except not everyone’s ready for a girl who doesn’t know her place. And not everyone survives the maze.

ToTheBestBoys_cover

The cover:

I didn’t actually see this cover properly until I went to write this review and damn this is cool. It ties so well

The intro:

I really like the introduction to this, I thought the world was set up really well with a good balance of description and action. The very first few pages – where Rhen is inspecting dead bodies – as weird as it sounds was brilliant! It was something so new and fresh(?), and you know immediately that this protagonist is not going to be a run-of-the-mill character.

The premise was explained well too, and I was really intrigued from the first few pages. Though it took a while to get to the maze there was plenty of build up of tension to keep the reader engaged.

The middle:

I think this book dipped in the middle – some scenes in the maze felt a little rushed, and I kind of expected a more drawn out competition. Nevertheless it still kept me entertained and this also made room for new characters to be introduced making the competition seem more real and raising the stakes much higher.

It also was the point where many of the characters showed their true colours, and allegiances change – think the hunger games but on a much shorter time-frame. For me this was the point where I really started to make my mind up about many of the characters.

I was a little confused as to why Rhen had to enter the maze as a boy when it’s pointed out in the story that any “gentle-person” not “gentle-man” may enter the maze. A minor point but one that bugged me a bit.

The end:

I felt like this rounded off nicely, and I am overall content with the ending to this book. And I think this is a standalone though the ending does leave room for a sequel – not in the sense that it feels unfinished but in that there are some loose ends which can go untended but can also be developed upon in later books. I’ll be excited to see if anything does come of those threads.

The characters:

They contrasted Rhen and Seleni really well with the latter being much more soft in comparison to her strong-willed best friend.

And Beryll – okay well he annoyed me at the start a bit, and later on I still didn’t think he was good enough for Seleni, but towards the end of the book I just kind of came around to this whole mindset that Beryll and Seleni were the real OTP of this book, and well…. he’s just a bit of a cinnamon roll really.

Rhen:

She’s just awesome. I love her outlook on life and I really appreciate her family’s support and love that was clear from the first pages.  So often in YA there’s a rift in the family, or the parents just aren’t around but no, here they are both very much engaged and supportive of their daughter’s dream of being a scientist.

General comments:

The pace of this book was well suited to the target audience, and at no point did it feel like it was running out of steam. The middle dipped in terms of story quality, but I felt that maybe this was to make room for the action in the maze and new characters. Introducing them all at the beginning would’ve likely been hugely overwhelming and since Rhen had no reason to interact with them before the maze it would’ve been silly to have them introduced earlier. Though I think taking more time to explore the maze would’ve made it that bit more “real”.

Overall I’m awarding this book 4.5/5 – apart from being rushed in parts and one small continuity query I have I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It reminded me a bit of The Hunger Games during the middle but the encompassing story is truly remarkable and unique. And YAY for female scientists!

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: ACE OF SHADES – AMANDA FOODY

Author: Amanda Foody
Title: Ace of Shades (The Shadow Game #1)
Publisher: HQ Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 459
Overall Rating: 5/5

I received a review copy of Ace of Shades from HQ Young Adult in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions in this post are entirely my own.

Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow.

Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

AceOfShades_coverIntro:

So I think I have a type – if a book involves a game I’m freaking hooked. I loved the world that Amanda builds in Ace of Shades – it’s so simple yet so alternative, and once you’ve got used to the currency and a bit of the history you can just let yourself immerse in the beauty of this story.

It really is a captivating book, and I found myself utterly addicted and desperate to know what happens. So much so that I also have this on audiobook and was using it to “read” whilst I was doing chores, walking to the station etc. I just needed to be in this world.

Middle:

This is where many of the characters started to come into their own, and the foundations solidified for the main storylines. The suspense built up in this section was really great and I found myself more hooked than ever on the storyline! By this point the characters have all developed their unique behaviours and traits; it’s easy to appreciate the little disconnected gang for all their individual sparks.

End:

Holllyyy crap this is so good. Not only does this set up for the next book in the Shadow Game series, but also ties this instalment up perfectly. I personally like it when a first-in-series can stand on it’s own but still have the potential to continue into a longer series if the reader wishes to continue, and Ace of Shades achieves this which makes me so happy.

I have adored this entire world though so I’m glad there are more books to come!

Characters:

They’re mostly a likeable bunch, and the villains are really something – none of this half-way villain. They are just evil. And as the story went on I fell more and more in love with the secondary characters like Jac (he needs a hug bless him) and Lola (she’s just got this edge about her that I adore.

Enne:

Enne – in my opinion – was a little annoying at the start; a young girl who knew nothing but her finishing school life, and seemed to try to demand the City of Sin adjust to suit her. Thankfully she quickly snapped out of that mind set, and although not ending up as my favourite character, I very much admired her determination and bravery throughout.

I particularly loved her character arc and the twist that came with it, it made this book come to life and I am 100% here for the rest of her story!

Levi:

This guy is brilliant – a little broody at times but we all love Jon Snow and Levi’s sarcastic humour thoroughly makes up for his sulky moments. He is a character with such a big heart and I love that his primary concern are his kids – his Irons. As a street lord he could simply think of his own fortune in the cruel city, but everything he does is for them when you think about it. He’s got such a tough exterior but really he needs a freaking medal for being so selfless.

Narrative:

Amanda’s writing is amazing, and I’ve loved it since I first read Daughter of the Burning City. It’s really easy to follow and I love the individual voice of each of the protagonists and secondary characters. It really adds a good depth to a truly magical story.

General Comments & Summary:

I have noticed this book getting compared to Six of Crows in various reviews and to be honest the only real connection I see here is the gangs? This book – in its own right – is just superb and deserves all the praise and attention it receives. It will have you hooked from the first few chapters – particularly if you’re a fan of CaravalThe Night Circus, or Six of Crows – and it will not let you put it down until you’re done. Even then you’ll be dying to return to the vivid and vibrant world of New Reynes.

AceofShades_instagram

ARC REVIEW: WE ARE BLOOD AND THUNDER – KESIA LUPO

Author: Kesia Lupo
Title: We Are Blood and Thunder
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 400
Overall Rating: 5/5

I received a review copy of We Are Blood and Thunder from Bloomsbury Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions in this post are entirely my own.

In a sealed-off city, it begins with a hunt. A young woman, Lena, running for her life, convicted of being a mage and sentenced to death. Her only way to survive is to trust those she has been brought up to fear – those with magic.

On the other side of the locked gates is a masked lady, Constance, determined to find a way back in. She knows only too well how the people of Duke’s Forest loathe magic. Years ago she escaped before her powers were discovered. But now she won’t hide who she is any longer.

A powerful and terrifying storm cloud unites them. It descends over the dukedom and devastates much in its wake. But this is more than a thunderstorm. This is a spell, and the truth behind why it has been cast is more sinister than anyone can imagine… Only Lena and Constance hold the key to destroying the spell. Though neither of them realise it, they need each other. They are the blood and they have the thunder within.

WeAreBloodAndThundreOohhhh my goodness this book was good. I expect excellence when it comes to Bloomsbury Publishing and We Are Blood And Thunder did not disappoint. It was exciting, action packed, mysterious and gripping, and in all honesty there isn’t really anything negative that I can say about this book. We have two very strong and independent female protagonists which provide two compelling points of view and really support the story fantastically.

Intro:

We started with scenes that were very bold, and in your face, and they very much set the pace for the book. I was intrigued to see if it would hold because the beginning was so far, so good. We are introduced to Lena and Constance, both seemingly of very different backgrounds, but of course you know their stories will converge.

What’s fantastic is the intrigue built here. There isn’t too much that the foreshadowing slaps you in the face, but there’s enough to plant the seed. But primarily this part of the book begins setting up the characters and scenery as expected. Both of which are superb, and painted so vividly in the mind’s eye.

Middle:

This is where I’m always worried a fast-paced intro will hit some friction, and slow down, but to my delight this book maintained its momentum, and eased its focus from scenery description to character development. This was where I started second guessing characters – they couldn’t all be as they seemed, surely!

End:

Well. I didn’t see that one coming! The ending brings all the storylines together so perfectly and the plot twist is so perfectly set up; it was one of those twists you wouldn’t see coming in a million years but that make so much sense when they’re revealed.

Characters:

So to start with Lena was 100% my girl, and although I enjoyed Constance’s point of view I was more interested by Lena’s. She seemed much more of a relatable character, there was something about Constance that I just couldn’t get along with. But I can’t argue that she was mysterious and I was certainly intrigued.

It was when their stories began to converge more that I took more of an interest in Constance, both of their narratives providing a well balanced and engaging story.

Their development was fantastic too, and both felt lifelike and realistic on the page; with their faults, their tells, their memories. It was all explored and it was all perfectly executed in my opinion.

Summary:

If you’re thinking about picking this up – do it. The magic, scenery, characters are all wonderful and it’s gripping from start to finish. It’s one of those books that has you hooked from the first few pages, and the characters are such a stark contrast to one another even the most different of readers will find one to relate to.

I’m awarding this book 5/5 – I’ve been reading some amazing books lately and it makes me so happy. Although it’s a standalone (cry) there will be another book set in the same world apparently, and I’m hugely looking forward to this! I loved the author’s voice, and how unique she made each of her characters too; their language and behaviour matching their personalities perfectly! It is just a fantastic read.

A huge thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for hooking me up with a review copy!

We Are Blood And Thunder is available now!

WeAreBloodAndThunder

BLOGGER BRUNCH: THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO – CHRISTY LEFTERI

Hello everyone!

Another slightly different post today; I’m slowly but surely catching up on my reviews but I had to tell you all about the wonderful morning I spend with Bonnier Zaffre books for their The Beekeeper of Aleppo party!

20190406_111747-014820383064802178058.jpegBeing a brunch there were lots of tasty treats on offer as well as a stunning finished hardback (yes HARDBACK) copy of the book for each of the invitees to get signed and take away with them after the event. This was also the first time I’d ever tried pure honeycomb… how have I missed out on this for the last 23 years?! Why did no one tell me it’s basically human ambrosia before? I may have eaten like 3 or 4 pieces…

Christy Lefteri is a Creative Writing professor at Brunel University in West London, and in 2016 decided to embark on a journey to help refugees in Syria. In the end they needed her in Athens, where she worked at a women’s and children’s centre that provided shelter, hot drinks, snacks, and warm showers to refugees – not just from Syria, but Afghanistan too.

She decided to write The Beekeeper of Aleppo as a response to the refugee crisis taking 20190406_113634-014283458586700998257.jpegher experience and all the stories she had heard and crafting them into a beautiful novel.
Whilst at the refugee centre, Christy was strangers come together to help out and make each other’s lives that bit more manageable – holding a baby whilst a mother went to use the showers, a mother playing with the children whilst another went to get snacks. And often she noticed that the husbands, brothers, and sons that would drop the women off at the centre would so often just wait outside rather than just leave. Despite not being allowed in there was a community and a sense of support that seemed to exist so naturally. Many of these people didn’t even speak the same language.

Christy was able to find out stories of many of the individuals there; there was a translator present of course but the sheer volume of people at the centre meant that he couldn’t be there all the time, and so Christy learned to communicate with her hands and gestures.

20190406_111441-012787045797266436655.jpegShe returned to the UK and found herself unable to just live without thinking about al the people she had left behind, and they were the ones who had been able to make the journey. What about those that hadn’t? This was the point where she decided to write about the family of a boy who didn’t make it.

When Christy returned to the centre a year later, the ratio of Syrian to Afghan refugees had shifted – it seemed the government was putting more into helping those from Syria. The centre’s role had also changed; from a shelter to an activity centre where she taught English. Many of the people there had begun to learn English, and Greek and so she was able to properly listen to their stories; the camps at an old airport, the beehives that were destroyed at the start of the war.

This was something that resonated with Christy and when she returned back to the UK 20190406_111433-015881806190530943026.jpegshe visited a man from Damascus (now living in the UK) who was a beekeeper. Ryad Alsous still keeps bees, but now does more work with the British Black Bee rather than Mediterranean ones. The story seems to have come from many sources, and carries so many true stories within itself.

Listening to Christy’s voyage was simply captivating and just hearing of her experiences was remarkable; I can’t begin to fathom the emotional rollercoaster of her journey.
For those of you curious about The Beekeeper of Aleppo I’ve included the Goodreads synopsis below:

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo–until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and so they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain. On the way, Nuri is sustained by the knowledge that waiting for them is Mustafa, his cousin and business partner, who has started an apiary and is teaching fellow refugees in Yorkshire to keep bees.

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all, they must journey to find each other again.

A huge thank you to Bonnier Zaffre for inviting me to this wonderful event, as always I had a wonderful time and I can’t wait to read this beautiful book.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo is out on the 2nd May!

 

BLOG TOUR: THE DEVOURING GRAY – CHRISTINE LYNN HERMAN

Author: Christine Lynn Herman
Title: The Devouring Gray
Publisher: Titan Books
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 400
Overall Rating: 4/5

It’s my stop on the blog tour for The Devouring Gray! I’ve also posted a short review and picture on my Instagram page if you’d like to check it out: https://instagram.com/sammys_shelf

I received a review copy of The Devouring Gray from TitanBooks in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions in this post are entirely my own.

Branches and stones, daggers and bones,
They locked the Beast away.

After the death of her sister, seventeen-year-old Violet Saunders finds herself dragged to Four Paths, New York. Violet may be a newcomer, but she soon learns her mother isn’t: They belong to one of the revered founding families of the town, where stone bells hang above every doorway and danger lurks in the depths of the woods.

Justin Hawthorne’s bloodline has protected Four Paths for generations from the Gray—a lifeless dimension that imprisons a brutal monster. After Justin fails to inherit his family’s powers, his mother is determined to keep this humiliation a secret. But Justin can’t let go of the future he was promised and the town he swore to protect.

Ever since Harper Carlisle lost her hand to an accident that left her stranded in the Gray for days, she has vowed revenge on the person who abandoned her: Justin Hawthorne. There are ripples of dissent in Four Paths, and Harper seizes an opportunity to take down the Hawthornes and change her destiny-to what extent, even she doesn’t yet know.

The Gray is growing stronger every day, and its victims are piling up. When Violet accidentally unleashes the monster, all three must band together with the other Founders to unearth the dark truths behind their families’ abilities—before the Gray devours them all.

TheDevouringGray_coverThe Cover:

This cover is cooooool and for anyone who watches Riverdale, or Stranger Things; a good indicator of what this book will be about. The cover gives of these vibes for me and being a huge fan of both these shows I’m so pleased I wasn’t disappointed.

Also. PINK SPRAYED EDGES. Everyone loves sprayed edges.

The Intro:

So this is where we meet the main cast, as you’d expect, but the Founders’ children aren’t really forthcoming in terms of their personalities. It’s Violet who is more of an open-book character – to the reader at least. In concealing much of the Founders’ children behaviour, a mysterious air builds areound them and gives the story more of a chilling feel. It’s fairly obvious from the introductory chapters what we’re getting into here, and the small snippets from The Gray build the intrigue from a very early point.

The Middle:

We’re introduced to more characters here and the development of May, Justin, Isaac, and Harper (some of the Founders’ children) ensues. This is also where more storylines are added, but it doesn’t overcomplicate the story, it simply adds another level of depth and in some cases I was more intrigued by these than the main plot.

But all the storylines in this book are amazing, and unique to the characters. You really begin to see why the characters behaviours are as they are through these stories; they’re often following on from historic events in Four Paths – before Violet’s arrival.

The End:

This is where the book kind of took on too much, the explanation of all the different story lines came in a very short space of time. Until this point the pace of the book had been perfection and it was a shame the ending felt more rushed. I would’ve liked more time to absorb the plot twists; that’s not to say I couldn’t take it all in, but I think I could’ve just enjoyed it more.

That being said, the ending was satisfying and I felt the lose ends came together nicely. It also sets up well for a potential sequel – I assume there will be a sequel?

The Characters:

I love the snippets of information we are fed throughout the book – at the start Violet is very clearly the protagonist, and comes across as a lonely individual not really with an interest in Four Paths. But as time continues, and she begins to let people talk to her, she realises she should in fact be more invested in this town.

This isn’t just a turning point for the story, but for the characters too; this is where we get a real feel for the individual characteristics and behaviours of the protagonists and secondary characters. I really loved the way they come to life, how some are stuck in this grey area and I’ve got no idea whether I like them or not. I’m hugely intrigued to find out more about each of them in later books.

The Narrative:

This was so easy to read – particularly compared to my previous book, and I really enjoyed the suspense Christine builds up through her use of language.

I thought some of the actor’s voices could’ve differed a bit – a number of them were unique and portrayed so well you didn’t need to look at who was narrating the chapter, however there were one or two that merged together a little; had similar behaviours and personalities etc. And I would’ve liked to see a bit more separating them, nevertheless it wasn’t unclear as to who was narrating at that instance, and the narrative supported the fast-paced plot well.

General Comments and Summary:

So it’s safe to say I really enjoyed this book, and I think anyone who’s a fan of Stranger Things, Riverdale, or The Raven Cycle is likely to enjoy The Devouring Gray. It balanced suspense with a good pace and well developed characters, and the narrative was easy and enjoyable to follow. So overall I’m awarding this book 4/5; I liked the fantasy side to the story set against a backdrop of a relatively normal town. I feel you could pick up Four Paths and put it anywhere in rural America and – ignoring the strange goings on – it would fit!

A huge thank you to Titan Books for sending me this review copy and for giving me this slot on the blog tour!

ARC REVIEW: THE BOY WHO STEALS HOUSES – C.G. DREWS

Author: C.G. Drews
Title: The Boy Who Steals Houses
Pages: 347
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult
Publishing: Orchard Books
Overall Rating: 5/5

I received a review copy of The Boy Who Steals Houses from Orchard Books in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions in this post are entirely my own.

Can two broken boys find their perfect home?

Sam is only fifteen but he and his autistic older brother, Avery, have been abandoned by every relative he’s ever known. Now Sam’s trying to build a new life for them. He survives by breaking into empty houses when their owners are away, until one day he’s caught out when a family returns home. To his amazement this large, chaotic family takes him under their wing – each teenager assuming Sam is a friend of another sibling. Sam finds himself inextricably caught up in their life, and falling for the beautiful Moxie.

But Sam has a secret, and his past is about to catch up with him.

TheBoyWhoStealsHouses_coverThe Intro:

So here’s something weird; my first name is Samantha – probably doesn’t take a genius to work out, my middle name is Louise. “Why are you telling us this?” I hear you ask… well the protagonist of this story is called Sammy Lou. *insert scream emoji here*
So of course I knew this book was going to be for me after about page 5. We were connected after all.

Also had something to do with the fact that I freaking loved A Thousand Perfect Notes and think everyone should read it. If you’d like to hear my thoughts on that you can find my review here.

Cait’s author voice is just perfect, and I found myself hanging onto every word almost instantaneously.

The Middle:

As with A Thousand Perfect Notes this book is supposed to make you feel, and boy does it. You know the middle is setting you up for a complete heart-break at the end of the book. You’ll fall in love with Sammy, I promise you that. Despite being a bit of a morally grey character (I love them anyway), his whole situation is just distressing, and I can’t even imagine what it must be like to go through what he does at such a young age.

Despite his hardships he is such a pure individual at heart, and it broke me to see what he had to go through in the short time frame over which The Boy Who Steals Houses is set. What’s really amazing about this narrative is the underlying hope you have that everything will be alright in the end.

The Ending:

Yup. It broke me.

Characters:

Each and every one of them was just precious. Okay there were some a**holes in the picture, but really – who lives a life without them.

Sammy, Avery, Moxie, Moxie’s entire family – they’re all unique with individual voices and personalities. The range of characters and representations in this book makes it feel like you’ve been pulled headfirst into an entire world that’s not your own. Not a small section, a fictional town, a fragment of a world, but a whole world.

This book occurs over a relatively short time-frame, though we do see snapshots of the past via the dedicated chapters and narration, and so in terms of development there is little room for characters to adjust. However, the events are so paramount that we do see them adjust and take in the change that’s happened in their lives. This story isn’t just about Sammy and his brother and their emotional journey, but Moxie’s too.

Narrative:

I actually felt guilty for putting this book down and going to bed (never fear, I got up in the morning early and finished it before heading to work so managed it in under 24hrs). Her writing will grab you and never let you go.

Summary:

5/5 for The Boy Who Steals Houses. It’s a tear-jerker of a book, be warned. But it’s an absolute contemporary fiction masterpiece. I have rarely felt so close to each of the characters; not necessarily because I relate but simply because their development and portrayal is unbelievably realistic.

A huge thank you to Orchard Books for the review proof copy.

The Boy Who Steals Houses is out now!

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