Thursday, 20 July 2017

Truth or Dare by Non Pratt - review

A powerful and moving novel about bravery from the Guardian's "writer to watch" Non Pratt, perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, John Green and Holly Bourne. How far is too far when it comes to the people you love? Claire Casey hates being the centre of attention. But if it means getting Sef Malik to notice her, it’s a risk she’s happy to take. Sef is prepared to do anything to help his recently disabled brother. But this means putting Claire’s love – and life – on the line. Because when you're willing to risk everything, what is there left to lose? (Publishers' blurb)

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an open and honest review.

It's been a glorious year for YA contemporary, with The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas, Release by Patrick Ness, Wing Jones by Katherine Webber and now Truth or Dare by Non Pratt. 

The structure of this book was sheer brilliance and it worked really well for the plot. I loved how the first half of the book was told from Claire's perspective and then the book literally flipped for Sef's. When I got to the end of Claire's section I was initially gutted, as she was a great character and I became really attached to her viewpoint.
Seeing the story from Sef's side was really effective, in terms of seeing his views on what had already happened as well as revealing new pieces of the story. 

Both characters had strong, distinctive voices, and this made me invested in both of their stories. I liked that certain character's motivations weren't always admirable (I'm trying really hard to avoid spoilers here!) as it felt realistic. 

This also gave me such powerful feels that I cried from happiness a couple of times (which is not at all like me!) It made me hopeful about the state of humanity to think that two people could embark on a journey to raise money for someone else. I thought the book dealt really well with the subject of brain injury, considering how it would impact on the person affected and those around them. 

Truth or Dare is a heartwarming, moving book that is also very real and funny. Even writing this review is making me want to start reading it all over again.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Interview with Dyan Sheldon - More Than One Way To Be a Girl release day

To celebrate today's release of More Than One Way To Be a Girl, the wonderful author Dyan Sheldon has shared her favourite books, movies and TV shows. I've just started reading my copy and it's the perfect mix of fun and humour, set against serious discussions about gender and identity.

I'll share a little bit about the book and then hand over to Dyan. 

From the writer of Confessions of A Teenage Drama Queen and My Worst Best Friend comes this hugely entertaining teen read, all about what it really means to be a girl. ZiZi likes to think of herself as a girly girl: her wardrobe is almost exclusively pink, her daily makeup routine can take upwards of an hour and she loves a bit of a flirt. Her best friend Loretta is very different: all of her clothes are black, she doesn't wear any makeup whatsoever and she doesn't like the way ZiZi dumbs herself down for boys - or her old-fashioned ideas about "a woman's place". One day, they decide to make a bet. Can ZiZi stand looking like Loretta for longer than Loretta can bear dressing like ZiZi? As their summer unfolds - often hilariously - the pair are surprised to find they have a lot to learn from each other. (Publishers' blurb)

Favourite YA book/s

One of my all-time favourite YA books (though it’s definitely one that spans generations) is THE SECRET DIARY OF ADRIAN MOLE AGE 133/4. I’m not an expert on fictional diaries, but I can’t believe that anyone’s ever done it better. It’s funny, it’s warm, it’s clever, and it catches the time in which its set perfectly. What’s even better, is that there are more of Adrian’s diaries, following him into the future he never imagined he’d have – and they’re every bit as good.

Next up, is Patrick Ness’s THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO. This is the first book in his brilliant Chaos Walking series, and I have to say it’s my favourite. When I first read it I was, as they say, gob-smacked. It’s so complex, so bold and so original. Indeed, I can’t think of another book it even vaguely reminds me of – unless, of course, it’s the other two in the series.

CARNABY by Cate Sampson. This is the story of Sarah, who is not your typical YA heroine. Sarah lives in a falling-down council tower block in London with her mother, her sister and her sister’s baby. Sarah doesn’t have what you’d call a great life; and then suddenly it gets really worse. Her mother is murdered, and it falls to Sarah to find out by whom and why – and to protect her sister and herself. Part mystery, part thriller, and part social commentary, CARNABY is a book that stays in your head.

BUFFALO SOLDIER by Tanya Landman

In Charley we have another untypical YA heroine. Born a slave in the American South, Charley finds herself adrift after the horrors of the Civil War and, in a desperate attempt to survive, disguises herself as a man and joins the all-black cavalry of the US Army, the Buffalo Soldiers. This is historical fiction at its best.

Favourite YA character/s

My very favourite teenager ever is Huck Finn. What’s not to love? Smart, sassy, and, above all, a boy who stands on his own, he is one of the best YA characters ever.

But right behind him comes Adrian Mole. An everyboy – or everyperson – if ever there was one.

I totally loved the two protagonists in Lisa Williams’ THE ART OF BEING NORMAL, David Piper and Leo Denton. David wants to be a girl, and Leo (who has been there, done that) just wants to be invisible. They are both such lovely people that you wish they lived next door.

Favourite adult book/s

I’m not going to give you the complete list, but it goes something like this:
CATCH-22 by Joseph Heller
THE WOMAN IN WHITE by Wilkie Collins
MIDDLEMARCH by George Eliot
The Shardlake series by C J Samson
The Jackson Brody series by Kate Atkinson

Favourite genre of book/s

I don’t think I have one. I would say that I’m not into historical fiction, but the Shardlake books are set in Tudor England, so that can’t be true. And I would say that I don’t read mysteries, but both the Shardlake and Jackson Brody novels are crime novels, so that’s not true either.

Favourite TV show/s

I don’t watch much telly, but the TV show I can watch over and over and over again (and do) is Inspector Morse, followed closely by Lewis and Endeavour.
More recently, I’ve loved Happy Valley (absolutely fantastic with the most wonderful central character), Fargo and Broadchurch.

Favourite film/s

I am a major Wes Anderson fan. He is so unique and distinctive – so intelligent, compasisonate and so incredibly funny. His films are nothing like anyone else’s, to anything we usually expect. 

Favourite book to film adaptation/s

Apocalypse Now, an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s fantastic novel HEART OF DARKNESS that moved the story from the Congo in the late 1800s to the Vietnam War, is one of the greatest films ever. Even though the production was beset by a troop of problems from the weather to its lead actor suffering a near-fatal heart attack.

Thanks so much Dyan for your recommendations and thanks everyone for reading. You can find out more about Dyan's books here or buy More Than One Way To Be a Girl here.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Release by Patrick Ness - review

Publisher: Walker Books

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an open and honest review.

The most personal and tender novel yet from Patrick Ness, the twice Carnegie Medal-winning author of A Monster Calls. It's Saturday, it's summer and, although he doesn't know it yet, everything in Adam Thorn's life is going to fall apart. But maybe, just maybe, he'll find freedom from the release. Time is running out though, because way across town, a ghost has risen from the lake... This uplifting coming-of-age novel will remind you what it's like to fall in love. (Publishers' blurb)

It's taken me a while to put this review into words, because I feel so strongly about Release. This book wasn't always easy to read, as it deals with difficult subjects and powerful emotions. It is thought-provoking, compelling and so full of feelings that it's impossible not to be drawn in.

This was my favourite thing about Release. Patrick Ness has made it clear that the book isn't autobiographical, but it is very personal. What really struck me was how raw and honest it felt, that Adam's emotions were so convincing and accessible to the reader. Although the story takes place over a short time frame, my connection with Adam was immediate and his character developed over the course of the book. 

Patrick Ness has this amazing authenticity about his writing, which makes his characters feel real and relatable. He captures the intensity I remember about being a teenager, and the sense that your decisions and actions can change everything.

The structure of the book was excellent, which I can't go into too much because of spoilers. I loved how it took me time to work out what w
as happening with the dual narrative.

The literary references also added another level. I now have a desperate need to read Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and reread Forever by Judy Blume, as these books lent inspiration to Release. I really like the fact that I can read them and then go back to Release with something fresh to look for.

This book really matters to me and I know it's one I'll reread. 

If you liked the sound of this, you have to read The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The Salvation Project by Stewart Ross - blog tour interview

To kick off The Salvation Project blog tour, I've got a great interview with the author Stewart Ross. There's also a giveaway if you head to the Goodreads link at the bottom of the page.

First I'll tell you about the book, then get straight to the interview! 

Humanity’s hope of salvation lies within a single laptop…

A mutation in human DNA means no one lives beyond nineteen. Scientists working to reverse this pandemic died before their Salvation Project was complete, leaving behind the results of their research in a sealed vault – the Soterion.

122 years have passed. The civilisation of the ‘Long Dead’ is almost forgotten, the Soterion has been burned to ashes, and communities of Constants are tormented by brutal tribes of Zeds. Cyrus, Miouda and Sammy flee their burning city with a laptop rescued from the inferno. They believe it contains the key to the Salvation Project. But its batteries are dead, there is no electricity to power it, and murderous Zeds will stop at nothing to get it back…

I love the sound of this and I'm looking forward to reading my copy! Now, it's time for the interview.

What were your favourite books as a child?

Long time ago! I remember being mesmerised by the Wind in the Willows when a neighbour read it to me and her son, and the book’s been a favourite ever since. Pooh featured highly early on. I collected the Wonder Book series (The Wonder Book of Farming (?!) etc) and the I-Spy series. The first book I remember buying for myself was Treasure Island. I re-read it again recently – it has one of the best beginnings of any book I know.

What books or authors inspire you?

No. 1 by miles and miles is William Shakespeare, the greatest literary genius of all time who just happened – lucky us! – to have lived at a time when the English language was fresh and new and flexible. The terms of abuse used by Timur/Giv in The Salvation Project owe much to the Bard. My favourite novelist is Charles Dickens, whose larger than life characters influenced many of my creations – especially the Zeds – in the Soterion Mission trilogy.

My favourite living writers are the Canadian Margaret Atwood (The Blind Assassin) and Cormac McCarthy (The Road). Children’s authors? A. A. Milne and Roald Dahl stand out. And among those living today I’d go for Philip Pullman among the many, many writers and illustrators (Quentin Blake) of undisputed genius.

If you could meet any author, who would it be?

Shakespeare. Apparently he was good fun to be with. I’d like to hear his accent, listen to his conversation, and ask him what he’d do if I could carry him forward to our century. Would Hollywood interest him?

Then I’d bombard him with questions: Who taught you at school? Were you ever a spy? Do you love your wife? Are you a secret Roman catholic? What do you think of Queen Elizabeth? Etc etc

Do you have any writing or editing rituals?

Cup of tea, switch on computer, switch on brain with four different games of solitaire and a game of chess… and off we go.

Where do you write?

For the last 27 years I have worked in a hut in the garden:

It’s stuffed with books and known in the family as ‘Auld Reekie’, a nickname given to Edinburgh when it was a very dirty and smoky city. I have written a number of books on Scottish history, and once smoked a pipe: back then, when it was too cold to open the door or windows, the inside of my hut got very Reekie indeed.

Sadly, my Auld Reekie is getting a bit rotten around the edges nowadays and before long will need some serious surgery.

If you were stuck in a dystopia, which fictional character/s would you take with you?

I’d take three:
Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne, not Disney – for comfort, kindness and homespun common sense.
Atticus Finch (from To Kill a Mockingbird), the all-time wise and liberal hero.
Roxanne from my Soterion Mission, the bravest, most attractive woman I know. I was in love with her from the moment she appeared on the page.

Thanks so much for the interview Stewart.

The giveaway link is below - good luck everyone!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Salvation Project by Stewart Ross

The Salvation Project

by Stewart Ross

Giveaway ends June 30, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

If you want to follow the rest of the tour, you can check out these links:

Monday, 19 June 2017

Perfect Score by Susan Roebuck - blog tour review

PublisherMundania Press LLC

Feckless, exasperating Alex Finch is a rich, handsome and talented singer/songwriter who longs for two things: a career as a professional rock singer, and to have his love for Sam Barrowdale reciprocated. But drifter Sam's two aims are simply to earn enough money to pay his sister's medical bills and to hide from the world his reading/writing and speech disability. At this time the word 'dyslexia' is generally unknown so to most people he's just a 'retard'. From the severe knocks life's dealt him, Sam's developed a tough outer coating and he has no time for a spoilt, selfish guitar player.

Despite his defects, Alex's love for Sam never wavers and when Sam unexpectedly disappears, Alex begins a somewhat bungling quest to find him, only to discover that Sam has a fearful enemy: Alex's powerful and influential yet sociopathic uncle.

As Alex spirals downwards towards alcoholism, many questions need answering. Just why did Alex's evil uncle adopt him at age eleven yet deny him any affection? And what's the mystery behind Alex's father's death?

Both seem to face unbeatable odds. Are they doomed to follow separate paths forever? (Publishers' blurb)

I'm so pleased to start this blog tour, as I love a good romance that I can root for.

Alex and Sam's relationship was my favourite part of the book. I really liked both of them, particularly how they grew as characters. Their relationship was touching, heartfelt and at times heartbreaking. I loved this aspect of the plot, but sometimes I felt like the book went in a lot of different directions when I wanted more Alex and Sam time!

Another interesting aspect of this was the viewpoint. It was an unusual choice to have Sam's parts of the book in the third person and Alex's in the first person, but this worked for their characters and the development of the plot. Both characters' stories were told honestly and went to some dark places, more so than I expected. 

This book also had a strong sense of time and place, sometimes to disturbing effect when it came to how Alex and Sams' relationship was perceived. It captured the 1960s period well and created vivid images of the different settings.

I really enjoyed getting to know these characters and appreciated the honest (and sometimes dark) feel of this book. Thank you for having me on the blog tour!

If you want to follow the rest of the tour, you can find the next stops here:

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Devil's Poetry by Louise Cole - blog tour

Publisher: Kindle Press

Questions are dangerous but answers can be deadly.

Callie’s world will be lost to war – unless she can unlock the magic of an ancient manuscript. She and her friends will be sent to the front line. Many of them won’t come back. When a secret order tells her she can bring peace by reading from a book, it seems an easy solution - too easy. Callie soon finds herself hunted, trapped between desperate allies and diabolical enemies. The Order is every bit as ruthless as the paranormal Cadaveri.

Callie can only trust two people – her best friend and her ex-marine bodyguard. And they are on different sides. She must decide: how far will she go to stop a war? Dare she read this book? What’s the price - and who pays it? (Publishers' blurb)

The premise of this immediately intrigued me and I really liked the idea of there being a manuscript in this world that was shaping history without most people knowing about it. 

My favourite part of this book was the way the perspective shifted between Callie's first person viewpoint and other third person viewpoints, including the Cadaveri and political leaders. Due to the high stakes of stopping a world war, it was really interesting to get the views of the different people involved. I didn't a hundred percent get invested in Callie's overarching plot line for some reason, but overall I enjoyed seeing the events from different sides. 

Another fun aspect was watching out for pop culture references. Any book that references Buffy has definitely won me over, and that wasn't the only reference that gave me a smile. 

This is an action-packed book with an original premise and I'm really happy to have been involved in the blog tour!

If you want to follow the rest of the blog tour, check out the next stops on the banner below:

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Royal Bastards by Andrew Shvarts - Review and Giveaway

Publisher: Hyperion (6th June 2017)

I received this book from Turnaround Publisher Services in exchange for an open and honest review. After sharing my thoughts, I have details of a fantastic (and very fun) giveaway from Turnaround.

Tilla, the bastard daughter of Lord Elric Kent, wants nothing more than to earn her father’s love and be legitimized as his true heir. But when she and a group of fellow bastards sneak out after a feast, they witness their parents, led by Tilla’s father, commit a horrific act of treason. Framed for a murder and sent on the run, the bastards band together, realizing they alone have the power to prevent a civil war that will tear their kingdom apart—if they can survive the journey...
Royal Bastards is described as 'Game of Thrones for teenagers' and I can't think of a more apt description. This book is also set in a richly imagined world and full of action, intrigue and romance. 

For me, the main strengths of this book were the characters and the relationships between them. 

I absolutely adored Tilla! Her longing for acceptance from her father immediately endeared her to me and it was great to watch her grow through the book. It made her feel very real that she was smart, confident and resourceful, but was also working out who she was. Her relationship with her half brother Jax was really refreshing. I seek out YA that explores sibling relationships and this book did that so well!

I also enjoyed the interactions and growing relationships between members of their group. Each character was developed in detail, with very different personalities and layers to uncover.

The plotting of this book was also brilliant. There was a real sense of imminent danger from their pursuers, which worked well against the background of the coming war. This gave the book a feeling of urgency and growing tension throughout.

The writing style was another aspect that I enjoyed a lot. Although the world had that Game of Thrones feel of being from another time, there was something modern about Tilla's voice that I really liked. It felt unique and also created many opportunities for humour.

This is one of the best fantasy books that I've read for ages. It's perfect for fans of Game of Thrones, Throne of Glass and Six of Crows

It's now time for the giveaway. The lovely people at Turnaround Publisher Services are offering three people the chance to win a copy of Royal Bastards! To enter, you have to sketch an illustration of what you think a Skarrling looks like. The best drawing and closest likeness will win a copy of the book!

This quote might give you a hint to get started: 
'Skarrling’s are said to make ‘a skittering clicking sound, like someone running their nails on a pane of glass…
Simply send your drawings via Turnaround's Facebook or Twitter page (@turnarounduk) by 30th June to enter. 
You can also find details of the giveaway here on Turnaround's blog and they have an awesome quiz where you can find out what character from the book is most like you. (I got Lyriana - which won't surprise people who know me!)
I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did and that you might be inspired to get drawing!

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Guest Post - Favourite YA Authors

Today I've got a different kind of blog post for you. My friend Steph has excellent taste in books and writes the most entertaining blog posts. You can check out her blog here.

Now it's time to hand over to Steph with all of the amazing books. Enjoy!

Hello! I’m Steph! I blog at A Little But A Lot and Amy has invited me here today to talk about my favourite YA authors – she’s done the same for me, over on my blog… check it out here if you fancy it.

Now, this is where it gets tough. I love books. ALL OF THE BOOKS. I don’t tend to DISLIKE books. I might like some books more than others but I don’t tend to, or I haven’t come across any, hate books. They’re wonderful things that mean something to someone. The authors have poured their hearts and souls into this creation, this 80000 words, so I’m in no position to come along and hate on it. I hope if you were to come along to my blog that you’d see that my posts are on the whole very positive. That’s my stance on books. I LOVE THEM. ALL OF THE BOOKS. ALL OF THE LOVE.

So here goes… my favourite YA authors.

(Disclaimer, I love all wonderful authors of the world)

Melinda Salisbury: for those who know me, know I am a massive fan of Mel. She writes such incredibly beautiful stories and I am sure she is destined to take over the world (or the Underworld) one day. You should go and read The Sin Eater’s Daughter trilogy now, because it’s incredible. Then come and talk to me about it when you’re done. I’ll be over on twitter just waiting!

Katherine Webber: Wing Jones had such an incredible message and when I read it I knew it was something special. I loved every second of it. I’ve met Katherine herself and she is absolutely gorgeous. I can’t wait to see what comes next, I know it’ll be just as amazing as Wing.

Sara Barnard: A Quiet Kind of Thunder had a profound effect on me. I’m not sure why and it came out of left field for me, but it did have quite an immediate impact on me in quite a massive way. I will forever champion this book. It inspired me to teach my kids sign language and taught me to listen just as hard as I talked. Beautiful Broken Things is also an incredible story that is written, just as AQKOT is, in such a way that they appeal to teenagers – they’re relatable and real.

Alwyn Hamilton: Rebel of the Sands blew me away. Here comes this story about a badass young lady, who wields guns and can fight like the best of them, who goes on an adventure and she won’t put up with anyone’s crap. Then there’s the heart throb of the books. She’s such a brilliant story weaver with this incredible world and characters who are just exceptional. I’m ready for the last book to be out now, but I’m not ready for the trilogy to be over.

Patrick Ness: I’ve only recently become a Ness fan but now wonder WHERE HAVE I BEEN FOR SO LONG? Reading A Monster Calls was a massive kick in the face. Here’s this incredible story about a young boy and 3 stories within it and BOOM, make sure you have tissues ready. It’s so sad, so heart-breaking but so brilliant. I’m lucky enough to have met Patrick recently and he’s so frank and witty. I can’t wait to read more now that I’ve started.

Holly Bourne: what can I say about Holly that probably hasn’t been said 6000 times before? She writes contemporary fiction SO WELL. The Spinster series was such an excellent portrayal of teenagers today, with such a brilliant set of messages – dealing with all kinds of issues from OCD, feminism to sexuality – that everyone needs to get them read now. She’s a great person to have on our side and for teenagers to read.

Honourable mention to Rainbow Rowell: Eleanor and Park was one of those exceptional books that I devoured and have reread a few times since. I can’t recommend this book enough. Everyone needs it in their life. Love needs to be portayed in all of the ways – not just one. Everyone needs representation.

So there we have it! Some of my favourite YA authors in the world today. I have so many other authors that I respect and admire; these ones though have a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf!

I’d love to know if you have any recommendations based on these authors, or even ones which come out of left field! Let me know on twitter (@eenalol) and if you’d like to see more then come over to my blog – I’m always open for a chat!

Thank you so much Amy for having me!

S x

Thanks so much for your post Steph! We share a lot of the same favourite books and I love Steph's writing style so much. I hope everyone enjoyed reading it as much as I did.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer - review

Publisher: Canongate Books

I received this book on Netgalley in exchange for an open and honest review. 

Mara's senior year is proving to be a lot less exciting than she'd hoped, until the day - KABAM! - Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period. Katelyn is the first, but she won't be the last senior to explode without warning or explanation. The body count grows and the search is on for a reason, while the students continue to pop like balloons. But if bombs or terrorists or a government conspiracy aren't to blame, what is?
With the help of her oldest friend, her new boyfriend, a power ballad and a homemade disco ball, will Mara make it to graduation in one piece? It's going to be one hell of a year, where the only test is how to stay alive and where falling in love might be the worst thing you can do . . . (Publishers' blurb)

I didn't know much about this book when I started reading it (though I had some ideas from the title). I found this a really unique premise and a tense read.

One of my favourite aspects was the writing style. The voice had a strong, contemporary feel and this meshed really well with the horrific idea of spontaneous combustion. This was such an original idea and it created a feeling of tension throughout. 

It was a strange and unique experience to become attached to characters, when there was no real way of working out who was going to combust. A character you really liked could be gone in an instant. The only aspect I was less keen on was that I didn't always feel connected with the narrator Mara and her motivations. 

This was a really dark, boundary pushing book that made me think about the value of life. It was hilarious at some points and heartbreaking at others, but always engaging and tense.

If you liked the sound of this, now try The Edge of Everything by Jeff Giles.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Cover reveal - The Salvation Project by Stewart Ross

I'm so happy to reveal the gorgeous cover of The Salvation Project, an intriguing dystopian that I can't wait to get my hands on.

For now, I have some information about the book. I'm also hoping to share a review in the near future!

Humanity’s hope of salvation lies within a single laptop…

A mutation in human DNA means no one lives beyond nineteen. Scientists working to reverse this pandemic died before their Salvation Project was complete, leaving behind the results of their research in a sealed vault – the Soterion.

122 years have passed. The civilisation of the ‘Long Dead’ is almost forgotten, the Soterion has been burned to ashes, and communities of Constants are tormented by brutal tribes of Zeds. Cyrus, Miouda and Sammy flee their burning city with a laptop rescued from the inferno. They believe it contains the key to the Salvation Project. But its batteries are dead, there is no electricity to power it, and murderous Zeds will stop at nothing to get it back…

Information about the Book

Title: The Salvation Project (The Soterion Mission #3)
Author: Stewart Ross
Release Date: 20th June 2017
Publisher: Blean Books
Goodreads Link:

If you like the sound of this, books 1 and 2 are available now!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Beyond the Wall by Tanya Landman - review

Publisher: Walker Books (6th April 2017)

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an open and honest review.

From Tanya Landman, author of the 2015 Carnegie Medal winner Buffalo Soldier, comes a heart-stopping tale of love, corruption and the power of choice. Blood on her lips. Blood on her tongue. Blood that is not her own. Cassia does not fear to die, but for her - for a slave who has maimed her master - there are worse things than death. Yet the mighty Roman Empire has its limits. Beyond her master's estate, beyond the river, far to the north stands Hadrian's Wall. And beyond the wall? Freedom. With dogs on her trail and a bounty on her head the journey seems impossible. But then Cassia meets Marcus - slick, slippery, silver-tongued - a true and perfect son of Rome. And her only hope. (Publishers' blurb)

This seems to be the year that I've finally got into historical fiction and Beyond the Wall is a great example.

One of my favourite things about this book was the feeling of empowerment it gave me. I really liked feeling that the actions of a few can ripple through an empire and the world. That somehow felt very relevant to modern circumstances...

The narrative viewpoint was really interesting, featuring an omniscient narrator that was able to explore the main characters' stories, including the villainous slave owner. This gave the opportunity not only to get to know the different characters, but also to unfold plot points from their perspectives. The only challenge for me was that sometimes this made me feel a bit distant from the characters. 

The historical setting was another real strength. I got a really good sense of the time period through the use of interesting details like the clothing, homes and transport. Although the subject matter was disturbing in places, it felt like this was necessary to capture the horrific life of a slave.

This book took me through different emotions: it was moving, powerful and it made me think. It's my first Tanya Landman book and I'm looking forward to reading more.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Black Knight Blog Tour - Review and Extract

Publisher: Scholastic (6th April 2017)

Maximum security! The world’s deadliest weapons tech needs some seriously beefy guards. So who put Dev and his mates in charge? By now, it’s not exactly news that letting the planet’s scariest weapons get stolen isn’t really the best idea. But how do you go about guarding them from utterly ruthless criminals whose tactics are impossible to predict? The answer is… a new squad of crack agents trained up by Dev and his buddies (yes, really). Their mission: to defend what’s left of the Inventory, and get back the stuff that’s been lost. At least Dev, Lottie and Mase know what not to do. But will they be ready for Shadow Helix’s next strike? (Publishers' blurb)

I've participated in the blog tours for Iron Fist and Gravity, so I was really happy to join the latest tour for the brilliant Black Knight. This is one of my favourite middle grade series, perfect for fans of Alex Ryder and the Cherub books. 

I'll share my thoughts, then below you can find a link to the very intriguing extract from the book. 

This book starts with some new members joining the team, which I thought was a great way to keep the series feeling fresh. The new team members added humour, conflict and new dimensions to the plot. A special mention goes to Riya: the smart, tough new girl that I really would have loved when I was a kid. 

One of my favourite aspects of this series is the villain, Lee. I'm a huge fan of complex, believable villains and it's great that this book delves more into Lee's perspective. 

Another thing I really liked is how much the plot progressed. The stakes were higher, new players were introduced and there was plenty of new and creative tech. I feel like each book in this series provides plenty of action and twists, but at the same time there are definitely mysteries left to be explored in future books. 

If you haven't already, I'd definitely recommend starting this series from the beginning and treating yourself to a fast-paced adventure. 

Now for the main event - the extract. This chapter focuses on Lee, the villain and one of my favourite characters. Click here and enjoy!


Andy has extensive experience working on multinational co-productions and has worked in comics, books, TV, film and trans-media projects.

Andy wrote and Executive Produced Legendary, currently the most successful independent UK/Chinese co-production. Released in China and grossing $5 million in the first week, with a theatric US release in 2014. With his brother he worked on Hollywood features such as Judge Dredd and Freddy vs. Jason and TV shows for the SyFy Channel and Netflix.

He wrote and co-created Secret Agents, a trans-media interactive spy experience for children, currently on at the Discover Centre, Stratford. He has 16 books and graphic novels published in the UK and around the world.

He has written 20 books and graphic novels published in the UK and around the world. In 2016 his latest feature, Crowhurst, will be released.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak - review

Publisher: Faber and Faber (6th April 2017)

​Three young friends are desperate to get a copy of the latest Playboy featuring Wheel of
​Fortune hostess Vanna White on the cover. The trouble is, no shopkeeper is going to sell
​something so scandalous to three fourteen year-old gaming nerds. The only thing for it is a full ​scale heist. As they set out on their mission to steal the most wanted images in America, they​ ​have no idea of the danger that lies ahead. Or that a girl named Mary Zelinsky, ​and a competition to design a Commodore 64 video game, might change one of their world's forever. (Publishers' blurb)

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This is technically an adult book but it has definite crossover appeal.

I’m a big fan of 80s movies and this blurb got me very excited. I’ve read other books set in the 80s and this was the first one that accurately captured what it felt like to be an 80s kid. Although I didn't grow up in 1980s America, the small town setting felt very authentic and the 80s references were well selected (and really fun to look out for!) There's a cinematic quality that made me feel like I was watching a really great 80s movie.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the video game references. I found the programming fascinating, and not too complex to follow! I enjoyed following Will and Mary designing their game and you can even play it here.

The plot of this book was really strong. There were familiar, extremely heartwarming coming of age elements but the plan to steal the Playboy added another layer of urgency and action. It was also a realistic portrayal of being a teenager: glorious one minute and awkward the next.

I also got very attached to the characters. They were fleshed out well, with interesting back stories, but they had unique qualities that made them feel real.

This is my favourite debut of the year so far and I strongly recommend it for anyone who wants fun, humour and an abundance of feels.