Review: All The Wicked Girls

October 16, 2017 in Book Reviews, Crime, Mystery

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: All The Wicked GirlsAll The Wicked Girls by Chris Whitaker
Published by Bonnier Zaffre on 24th August 2017
Genres: Crime, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

Everyone loves Summer Ryan. A model student and musical prodigy, she's a ray of light in the struggling small town of Grace, Alabama - especially compared to her troubled sister, Raine.

Then Summer goes missing. Grace is already simmering, and with this new tragedy the police have their hands full keeping the peace. Only Raine throws herself into the search, supported by a most unlikely ally.

But perhaps there was always more to Summer than met the eye . . .

When Summer Ryan goes missing in Grace, Alabama, it is feared that she is another Briar Girl. Girls have been going missing and the Police Dept is yet to uncover the truth of their disappearances.

So Summer’s twin sister Raine takes it upon herself to find her sister, and enlists the help of two local boys Noah and Purv. Noah’s late father was a police officer and Noah wants to emulate him and his heroism. While Summer and Raine may be twins they are very different. Summer is academic and musical, Raine hangs out with guys getting drunk. As different as they may be they love each other fiercely and Raine will do whatever it takes to find her twin.

This novel is packed full of characters and somehow in just 339 pages we get an insight into their histories. That in itself is impressive. I’ll admit being overwhelmed at first by the number of names; my foggy brain couldn’t keep up. But slowly we uncover more about them all and the citizens of Grace, Alabama, seem a lot more real, more than a blend of names.

As we follow Noah, Purv and Raine while they try to find Summer (throwing themselves into harm’s way in the process), we are also treated to chapters from Summer. Through these chapters we learn more about the missing girl, much more.

Then, of course, there are the other missing girls, the Briar Girls – will they ever solve the mystery? Perhaps with Noah and co. on the case.

I don’t want to give you much more information for fear of spoiling the evolution of this story. What I will say is that this is not only a mystery novel but a look into a small community where that person next door you might look to have it all, may actually have their own hidden struggles and secrets.

four-stars

Review: Godsgrave

September 22, 2017 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: GodsgraveGodsgrave by Jay Kristoff
Series: The Nevernight Chronicle #2
Published by Harper Voyager on 7th September 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars

Mia Corvere has found her place among the Blades of Our Lady of Blessed Murder, but many in the Red Church hierarchy think she’s far from earned it. Plying her bloody trade in a backwater of the Republic, she’s no closer to ending the men who destroyed her familia; in fact, she’s told directly that Consul Scaeva is off limits. But after a deadly confrontation with an old enemy, Mia suspicions about the Red Church’s true motives begin to grow.

When it’s announced that Scaeva will be making a rare public appearance at the conclusion of the grand games in Godsgrave, Mia defies the Church and sells herself to a gladiatorial collegium for a chance to finally end him. Upon the sands of the arena, Mia finds new allies, bitter rivals, and more questions about her strange affinity for the shadows. But as conspiracies unfold within the collegium walls, and the body count rises, Mia will be forced to choose between love and revenge, and uncover a secret that could change the very face of her world.

So, if you haven’t read Nevernight then either go pick up a copy or check out my post with 6 reasons to read it. Godsgrave is the second book in The Nevernight Chronicle and while I won’t be discussing Godsgrave spoilers there will inevitably be Nevernight spoilers.

Ok, so Mia is now a blade – after Lord Cassius anointed her one prior to his death. As well as her original passenger Mister Kindly, Mia now also has the company of the late Lord Cassius’ shadow wolf, Eclipse. I have to say I wasn’t entirely sure about the banter between these two shadow characters to begin with, but actually, I grew to really like it!

Mia has not given up on her intention to kill Duomo and Scaeva in order to seek justice for her family. However her blade status does complicate things somewhat and so Mia, in true Mia-style, comes up with an outlandish, if cunning, plan to finally end her foes.

There is so much to love in this book – not least Mia, who really is an incredible character. She took me on a bit of a rollercoaster in this book, but that’s what all good characters do, right?

There are some interesting new characters in this second book and I really like the way that Kristoff incorporated them, as well as the reemergence of some more familiar characters.

As you’d expect having read Nevernight, this book is filled with blood, fighting, death, profanities, poison; I mean it’s probably not for everyone. But if you’re a Nevernight fan, then you know what to expect!

Kristoff is such an incredible writer. I love the way he involves the reader in this story, with added sarcasm to boot! I was worried Godsgrave  wouldn’t live up to my high expectations but it really did. I had no idea where the story was going to go and I love the direction it took!

I’m not quite sure how we are meant to wait another year for the final book in this trilogy. I’ve provisionally marked it in my 2018 diary already!

five-stars

Review: City of Saints & Thieves

July 6, 2017 in Book Reviews, YA

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: City of Saints & ThievesCity of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson
Published by Rock The Boat on 6th July 2017 (UK)
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Street-thief Tina breaks into the luxurious house where her mother was killed to steal from Mr. Greyhill and nail him for her mother’s murder. She is caught red-handed.

Saved by Mr. Greyhill’s gorgeous son, Michael, the pair set in motion a cascade of dangerous events that lead them deeper into the mystery, and reveal dark and shocking secrets from Tina’s past.

Tina and her mother fled the Congo years ago as refugees, trading the uncertain danger of their besieged village for a new, safer life in the bustling Kenyan metropolis. The corruption and politics of the Congo, and the gangster world of Sangui City, are behind Tina’s mother’s downfall. Is Tina tough enough to find the truth and bring the killer to justice?

You know that feeling when you’re lying in bed at night fighting to keep your eyes open so that you can read just one more chapter? Well, that was me with City of Saints & Thieves – I just didn’t want to put it down.

Our protagonist Tina lives on the streets, works with the Goonda gang, steals to survive, checks in on her sister every Friday (her sister is in a school) and plots revenge on her mother’s killer. Ever since her mother was shot dead in Mr Greyhill’s luxurious mansion, Tina has been seeking revenge. So after five years she’s ready to work with the Goondas to execute her plan and bring down Mr Greyhill. Except, when she enters the house to steal from him she is caught by his son (and her former friend) Michael. Michael is determined to prove that his father is innocent of her mother’s killing and so the two find themselves working on a murder investigation that uncovers dark secrets and takes them on a journey from a Kenyan city to a village in the Congo.

This is such a stunning debut novel. Anderson herself has worked with refugees of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, many of whom shared their own harrowing stories with her. While this is a work of fiction, she has drawn from these experiences in order to create a fascinating, page-turning, heartbreaking story that is formed from real life. She educates the reader, brings attention to the lives of these refugees and to those still living in the villages of the Congo. Personally, I learned a lot from this novel.

I very much enjoyed Anderson’s writing and her use of Swahili and Shen to further the reader’s experience and once again bring the reader closer to the real life of the Kenyan streets.

As for the story itself, I was thoroughly caught up in Tina’s life. I found myself thinking of her even while doing other things – always a sign of a well-written character. Plus I couldn’t shake the thought that although fictional, this could be a real life young girl.

I have a lot of admiration for Anderson for the way she writes. She has created a fictional story around real life events, tackled difficult and upsetting issues while maintaining a flowing and fascinating narrative throughout.

In short… read it.

four-half-stars

Blog Tour: If We Were Villains

June 15, 2017 in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Thriller

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Blog Tour: If We Were VillainsIf We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Published by Titan on 13th June 2017
Genres: thriller, Mystery
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars

Oliver Marks has just served ten years for the murder of one of his closest friends – a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he's released, he's greeted by the detective who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened ten years ago.

As a young actor studying Shakespeare at an elite arts conservatory, Oliver noticed that his talented classmates seem to play the same roles onstage and off – villain, hero, tyrant, temptress – though Oliver felt doomed to always be a secondary character in someone else's story. But when the teachers change up the casting, a good-natured rivalry turns ugly, and the plays spill dangerously over into life.

When tragedy strikes, one of the seven friends is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.

I’m delighted to be today’s stop on the If We Were Villains blog tour. If you’ve missed the other stops on the tour so far you can find them all at the bottom of this post.

Dellecher Classical Conservatory is an elite art school that is home to Oliver and his six friends; all of whom are in their fourth and final year as theatre students and scholars of Shakespeare. They live, study, act and socialise with one another – their own Shakespeare-loving family.

When we meet Oliver it’s ten years later and he’s just getting out of prison where he has served time for the murder of one of these close friends. He has finally agreed to tell the lead detective the whole, true story.

The novel is structured through Acts and Scenes which tell the story of life at the school, with Preludes that focus on the now and Oliver’s release from prison. I loved this structure, in a book filled with drama, theatrics and plays it fits the theme perfectly.

Now, I studied Shakespeare in school but that was quite some time ago – and even then I’m familiar with only a few of his plays. I was slightly concerned that my ignorance might mean that I wouldn’t enjoy this novel; however I actually enjoyed it very much. I would say though that those more acquainted with Shakespeare or even with theatre as a whole would no doubt enjoy it more.

Our seven characters (I was rather confused at first with all of the names, but I soon caught on) are actors; throughout the year they adopt Shakespearean roles for a variety of plays. Indeed they even converse among one another in quotes at times. However, as the school year progresses it seems that many of the seven are struggling to leave their Shakespearean roles behind, and the line between fiction and reality becomes increasingly blurred.

This is not your typical thriller. Yes, it’s thrilling and gripping but it’s far more than that. Rio weaves her story in conjunction with Shakespearean verse. Indeed she often echoes her characters’ mindsets and actions though their study of The Bard. At first, I’ll admit I struggled a little with this style, but it’s executed so well that I soon became accustomed to the interspersions of verse.

Rio not only expertly combines Shakespeare into her narrative, but also displays her own beautiful writing.

This is quite a rollercoaster read – love, betrayal, envy, passion, friendships, this book has it all – just like the Shakespearean works it echoes.

If We Were Villains Blog Tour

three-half-stars

Mini Review: Avenged

June 7, 2017 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, YA Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Mini Review: AvengedAvenged by Amy Tintera
Series: Ruined #2
Published by HarperTeen on 2nd May 2017
Genres: YA Fantasy, Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

A war that will fuel her. A bond that will destroy her.

Emelina Flores has come home to Ruina. After rescuing her sister, Olivia, from imprisonment in rival kingdom Lera, Em and Olivia together vow to rebuild Ruina to its former glory.

But just because Em and Olivia are out of Lera doesn’t mean they are safe. Their actions over the past year have had consequences, and they are now targets of retaliation. Olivia will destroy everyone who acts against Ruina. Em isn’t as sure.

Ever since Em posed as Prince Casimir’s betrothed in Lera, she’s started to see another side to this war. Lera may have destroyed the Ruined for decades, but Em knows that Cas is different. And now that he’s taken the throne, Em believes a truce is within reach. But Olivia suspects that Em’s romantic feelings for Cas are just coloring her judgement.

Em is determined to bring peace to her home. But when winning the war could mean betraying her family, she faces an impossible choice between loyalty and love. Em must stay one step ahead of her enemies—and her blood—before she’s the next victim in this battle for sovereignty.

It was great to be able to pick up Avenged so soon after reading the first book in this series, Ruined. I wasn’t ready to leave Em, Cas and co. behind just yet! Now though, I face a yearlong wait until I can rejoin them and experience the conclusion of this trilogy.

What can I say about Avenged? There’s war, hatred, betrayal, friendship, loyalty and trust. I love that we see more of Aren in this book; he’s a character I wanted more of in Ruined.

Avenged is full of action as Tintera once more immerses us in her world. Yes, it might be a little predictable in places, but I didn’t care. It’s an easy-to-read YA fantasy with some fantastic characters and engrossing writing.

four-half-stars