Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Review for The Deviants by C.J. Skuse

The Deviants by C.J. Skuse 
Publisher: Mira Ink
Release: 22nd September 2016
Genre: UKYA, Thriller
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review



Synopsis:
"When you set out for revenge, dig two graves

Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.

Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.

When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?"

Review 
C.J. Skuse is one of my favourite authors and every time she has a new book out I wonder how she can possibly top the last, but she does! Every. Single. Time. The Deviants is CJ’s most accomplished book yet and I gobbled it up greedily in a single sitting – it was that good!

Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane used to be best friends. As children they would spend their days having adventures in their sleepy seaside town, and at night would beg Max’s big sister Jess to tell them one of her legendary scary stories, until the day a very real kind of horror finds them when Jess is killed in an accident, changing their lives forever.

Years later and all that remains of their group is Max and Ella who have grown to be more than friends, but when a series of events bring the five back into each other’s lives, they find that secrets of the past never stay buried for long, and that there may be more to Jess’s death than they first thought all those years ago...

The Deviants is a book that doesn’t give up all its secrets at once. I started this book thinking it was one thing, only for CJ to add twists and turns throughout so that by the end, the book is something else entirely. I loved the direction that this book went in and found the bombshells that are dropped so casually throughout the book impossible to predict.

The area where C.J. Skuse really shines in all of her books is with her characters. CJ really gets teenagers and gives them voices and personalities that feel so authentic to read. Ella as a main character is so flawed and complex, I really appreciated not having the traditionally likeable heroine here and thought that it worked particularly well for this story.

When I started this book I never could have predicted the incredible ending, it absolutely blew me away! I’ve been purposefully vague in this review because this is a book that you want to go into knowing as little as possible so that you can experience the full impact, but I will just say that the ending of this book left me with my mouth hanging open!

The Deviants is a thriller with heart. With its clever twists, skilled plotting and heart-breaking finale it’s easily one of my favourite reads of 2016 – don’t miss it!

Saturday, 20 August 2016

YA Shot Tour: Q&A with Sara Barnard



Hello everybody! Today is my stop on the YA Shot Tour and I'm thrilled to be hosting Beautiful Broken Things author Sara Barnard. I had so much fun interviewing Sara and I hope you enjoy the Q&A!


1.) Have you ever experienced a significant life event? 
 Yes, but nothing like what happens in BBT! Mine are things like going to university, living in another country, moving in with my boyfriend, getting a book published. They’ve all been very significant for my life!

2.) Which of your characters did you most enjoy writing?
I enjoyed all of them in different ways, but Suzanne is particularly special to me and I could write her all day. Rosie’s blunt tongue was fun, and I have a bit of a soft spot for Tarin!

3.) Who are some of your favourite fictional besties? 
I love Holly Bourne’s Spinster Club, and of course the Harry Potter trio. The friendship between Queenie and Maddie in Code Name Verity is incredible.

4.) In Beautiful Broken Things Suzanne has a mental illness, what advice would you give to readers who want to know how to best support a friend with mental health problems?
Just to be their friend - that’s your role, and that’s what they’ll need. Remember, they’re friends with you for a reason! You don’t need to try and be their doctor or their psychiatrist. If you’re not sure, it’s always better to ask. Above all, make sure they know you’re there for them and that they can trust you to be there through the good and the bad. That’s the most important thing.

5.) Do you have any tips for dealing with a friendship fallout? 
Usually the only thing you really can do is wait out the storm - they all fade out eventually. If you’re in the wrong, apologise, but let them be angry for a while, too. And if they’re in the wrong, go ahead and be mad for a while. You’re allowed to be annoyed with your friends sometimes!

6.) What are some of the best places to hangout in Brighton? 
The beach is the most obvious, but the Royal Pavillion also has beautiful sunny gardens to sit in and relax. When I have friends visiting we like spending time in North Laine, which has the best vintage shops to explore.

7.) What’s been your best debut author moment so far?
Honestly, nothing beats getting messages from readers who love or have really taken something from the book. Everything else is a brilliant bonus, but those messages mean the absolute world.

8.) Can you tell us a little bit about your next book?
It’s called A Quiet Kind of Thunder and it's a quiet love story between a girl who doesn’t talk and a boy who can’t hear. It features anxiety, selective mutism, deafness and a German shepherd called Rita.

Thank you Sara for taking the time to answer my questions! 

You can meet Sara Barnard at YA Shot this October for more about the event check out their website here and don't forget to follow the rest of the blog tour under the hashtag #yashot2016 on Twitter

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Review for The Graces by Laure Eve

The Graces by Laure Eve 
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Release: 1st September 2016
Genre: UKYA, Thriller
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review



Synopsis:
"Everyone said the Graces were witches. 

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair. 

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different. 

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?"

Review 
The early whisperings of excitement for The Graces has been impossible to ignore, so despite feeling so over stories about witches and the paranormal I *had* to read this book to see what all the fuss was about. Woah. Just…woah. This book was nothing like what I was expecting it to be! It’s very unique and like nothing else on the YA market right now. If, like me, you thought that you were done with books about witches – think again!

Everybody knows the Graces - glamorous, magnetic and unabashedly different – the Grace siblings Thalia, Fenrin and Summer are their high school’s celebrities and everyone wants a piece of them. New girl River is no different and quickly becomes enchanted by the rumours that the Graces are witches. So many have tried and failed to befriend the siblings and so everyone is surprised when they take River under their wing. At first, hanging out with the Graces seems like all fun and games, but as the stakes get higher River quickly learns that being allowed into the Graces circle comes with a price, and that power of any kind carries consequences.

In The Graces, Laure Eve strips back witchcraft to its basics, this story is one of small magics that are so delightfully coincidental that you’re never sure whether to believe in this books magical element or not. The way that Laure Eve teases readers is both tantalising and fun, it really is showmanship as its very best. Reading The Graces is like watching a magician perform, as the audience you want to believe in the magic, but is there such a thing? Or is what you’re experiencing simply clever illusions and smoke and mirrors? That drive to know the truth is what makes The Graces so compelling to read.

River was such an interesting character she’s very ambiguous to the point where we only know her by the name that the Graces call her. Her identity is solely made up of the Graces and their love and approval of her. This book is a real testament to how other people perceive us versus our true selves and how they can differ. At its heart The Graces is a story about fully embracing both the things that make us ordinary and the things that make us different.

With heady writing and intoxicating characters, Laure Eve has spun a gothic tale about power and obsession that breathes new life into witches. Thrilling, dark and atmospheric, The Graces will hold you spellbound from start to finish. Don’t miss the next big thing in YA Fiction.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Pokémon Go Book Tag



I'm so obsessed with Pokémon Go right now, so when I saw the Pokémon Go Book Tag created by Read at Midnight floating around social media I knew that I just had to do it! Pokémon and books? Yes please! Let's get started...
I have always loved reading since I was a little kid. When I was younger I remember being really obsessed with anything Roald Dahl especially The Twits, Matilda and The BFG, then as I got a bit older I discovered the Harry Potter series and Jacqueline Wilson's books and when I was in my early teens I fell in love with the Georgia Nicolson series by the late Louise Rennison and The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. These books were all so influential to me as a young reader and are what sparked my passion for reading.

 

I'm not a huge reader of the classics but two that I really enjoyed are Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
I didn't necessarily lose interest in this one because it is everywhere, but it is one that lots of people love and I just don't get and that is Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. I read the first book in this series and it just didn't work for me so I won't be continuing on with it.

Two books that came out this summer that are very similar to one another are The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware and Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard, I've read them both and despite being similar I love them exactly the same.

I have been wanting to read the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon for about eight years now and I've always put it off because it's a HUGE series with each book standing between 800-1000 pages. I really want to watch the TV series but I want to read the books first so I really need to get around to them soon!

A book that I read late into the night recently was The Graces by Laure Eve - I just had to know what was going on with this book! It was totally worth the late nights because it's turned out to be one of my favourite books of the year.

I have sooo many bookish OTP's! Instead of a big long list, I'm going to go with my most recently discovered couple Libby and Jack from Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven, they're so cute and perfect for each other!

A series I love for a quick, fast-paced read is the Saga series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. The plot and dialogue is always whip fast and entertaining and because they're graphic novels they are really quick little reads.

As someone who loved The Cursed Child and has a constant hunger for more books/movies/plays set in this world, I will never get tired of being in J.K Rowling's Wizarding World. Hogwarts really is my home.

A book that I really wasn't sure about when it first came out was Cinder by Marissa Meyer. The synopsis sounded really wacky and I wasn't interested in it at all. Then a few of my friends convinced me to give it a go and I loved it! I've now read the whole series and it's one of my favourites,

The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson is a series that is so beloved and raved about and I'm very excited to get around to it. I've always been a bit intimidated by Brandon Sanderson's books but he's such an accessible High Fantasy author and after loving the Mistborn series I really want to read more by him.

There is an absolutely gorgeous collectors edition of The Tales of Beedle the Bard that retails at most places for around £500. I love Harry Potter, but I don't love it that much.

There are already so many debut novels coming out next year that I'm really excited for but one that stands out to me is Caraval by Stephanie Garber. It sounds like such a magical fantasy and I'm so jealous of everyone who has a proof copy already!

I have a lot of favourite authors who are auto-buy for me but the author whose books I have bought religiously since I first discovered her writing at thirteen years old are Sarah Dessen's.


Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor - March 2017 seems like forever away!

This was such a fun and creative tag! 
Be sure to check out the original post here and if you'd like to do it then consider yourself tagged

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Wildflower Bay Blog Tour

Hello everyone! Today I am delighted to be taking part in the Wildflower Bay blog tour and I have the very first chapter to share with you!


Chapter One 
The keys felt reassuringly expensive. Jingling them in her palm, Isla clipped down the stairs, pausing for a moment, as had become habit, to look out at the streets of Edinburgh stretching out below her, the golden sandstone buildings glowing gently in the pale early sunlight. This was what she worked for. This was what made the hours of slogging, day after day, fighting her way to the top of her game, worth it. She peered down to the road below where her pride and joy stood, its scarlet paint glossy as a pillar box. Isla Brown allowed herself a small smile of satisfaction.

Slinging her Mulberry bag over her shoulder, she circled down the stone staircase, the sound of her heels echoing in the silence of the morning. With a plip, the driver’s-side door unlocked and she slid into the seat, inhaling the delicious scent of new car.

This was Isla’s favourite time of day in the city. Nobody around but delivery men and end-of-shift security guards; streets empty but for seagulls and pigeons swooping down on the remnants of a night’s revelling in the capital, helping themselves to discarded chips and half-eaten burgers. They’d be gone soon, the slate wiped clean every morning by council workers who swept up the detritus and restored the city to her stately glory.

Isla stopped at a traffic light, fingernails tapping impatiently on the steering wheel, feeling the smug purr of the engine. Flipping down her sun visor as she waited, she checked her make-up. Her face was an immaculate mask of primer and foundation, with a slash of red lipstick that matched her gorgeous new convertible perfectly. Isla brushed a speck of mascara from her cheek, pushed the visor back up and roared away from the stop light, sending a group of nearby pigeons flapping into the air in surprise.

Later on, the street outside would be nose-to-tail with traffic, on-street parking impossible, the pavement choked with office workers heading up to spend their lunch hour in the sunshine of Princes Street Gardens – but arriving at this time of day meant Isla was able to pull up right outside work and park. That way, she could spend all day looking out the window at the manifestation of her years of hard work. She locked the car, casually clicking the keys as she stepped through the gleaming glass doors of Kat Black Hair.

With a few taps she’d deactivated the alarm system and – as she’d done every day for two years, since taking over as head stylist – headed through to the little staff room. She liked her mornings to be routine. Breakfast was always alone in the flat; never a problem, as Hattie, her housemate, rarely surfaced before eleven. A quiet journey to work (until she’d bought the Mazda it had been on foot, with Isla changing out of trainers and into work shoes before anyone caught her looking anything other than immaculate) and then this – her daily ritual. Switching the kettle on, Isla set to work making sure that everything she needed was in place. Her trolley was neatly stacked, each little compartment filled with precise piles of everything she might need, from rollers to kirby grips, combs to clippers. ‘The secret to a good cut is an organized stylist,’ she would intone to the juniors, firmly.

‘The secret to a good cut,’ the parrot-haired Chantelle, who was second in command and snapping at her heels, would respond, archly, ‘is a stylist who isn’t afraid to take risks.’

Isla frowned, imagining Chantelle’s cocky tone. Unfortunately Kat, who owned the chain of salons, had a soft spot for Chantelle, and for some reason didn’t seem to recognize the merits of Isla’s precise, methodical ways. It wasn’t fair. She gave an experimental snip with her favourite scissors, imagining as she did so how it would feel to chop the irritating Chantelle’s rainbow-tipped mohawk off ‘by accident’. She wouldn’t be so pleased with herself then, would she?

Taking one china and one paper cup of coffee through to the reception desk, Isla sipped as she waited for the computer booking system to kick into life.

There was a clatter as the salon door was shoved open. A tangled head of hair, which hadn’t seen shampoo in some time, topped a weather-beaten face.

‘All right, Isla, hen?’

Isla looked up from the screen of the Mac. ‘You’re late today, Tam. Busy night?’

‘Aye.’ Tam gave her a wink. ‘Had to see a man about a dog.’

He hitched up the shoulder of his oversized greatcoat. Isla pushed back her chair, picking up the coffee she’d made him.

‘Thanks, darlin’. See you the morn’.’

Isla smiled at the routine of it. ‘Not if I see you first.’

Tam raised his coffee cup in acknowledgement and headed back down the steps, where a brindled bull terrier sat waiting patiently. Isla turned back to the computer screen.

Another packed day – just how she liked it, and some of her favourite clients. And a note from Kat to say she wanted a cut and colour done on her own hair after closing tonight at six. That was good – the perfect time to remind Kat just why she was top stylist, and hopefully drop in a few hints about the benefits of moving Chantelle to the salon up in Morningside. She could suggest it as a career-enhancing move, after all . . .

‘It’s definitely blue.’

Isla looked in the mirror at Kat’s thunderous expression and frowned slightly, shaking her head. This had never happened before, and there was no way – absolutely no way – that it could have occurred.

‘It can’t be.’

She never did anything without double-checking. Closing her eyes for a moment, she visualized herself standing in the back room of the salon, mixing the toner with the correct shade – no.324. She could see the figures on the box, could remember pulling it down from the shelf. At the time, two more boxes had fallen down from a nearby stack and Mel, the shyest, most junior of all the trainees, had darted to pick them up for her, stepping back deferentially without a word.

Kathleen Black glared at Isla. As owner of a chain of exclusive salons (patronized by a select clientele, famed for their discretion, known for their glossy-maned team of award-winning stylists), she expected the very best. And Isla – prize-winning perfectionist head stylist, super-focused ice queen – was the best.

Kat lifted a damp, most definitely blue-tinged tendril from her forehead. Lips pursed and eyes narrowed, she glared at Isla’s reflection as she spoke, each word crystal- sharp and clearly enunciated.

‘Chantelle? Here. Now.’

Isla caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. Her carefully applied blusher now looked clownish against her blanched cheeks. She stood frozen to the spot. She didn’t make mistakes.

‘Kat,’ Isla began, carefully. ‘I know I didn’t get the shade wrong. The box is out the back. Let me show—’

Kat’s pale blue eyes narrowed further. Her chin lifted slightly.‘I’d rather you didn’t show me anything. If I were you –’ her voice was dangerously quiet now, and Isla could feel the long-suppressed, yet all-too-familiar sensation of panic surging like a wave – ‘I’d get out of my sight. I’ll ring you when Chantelle has fixed this – mess.’ She dropped the strands of hair, which flopped against her cheek. ‘Life’s too short for mistakes, Isla, you know that.’

Isla felt her hackles rising but she bit back a response, aware that if she spoke out of turn now she’d be on the receiving end of Kat’s notorious temper. She’d gritted her teeth through a thousand shitstorms, covered Kat’s back when she’d messed up at competitions, and watched countless junior stylists come and go, unable to hack the competition and the pace of being part of Kat’s team. Isla had held on like a limpet, not taking her eyes off her goal for one second. And now, on schedule, she’d made it.

‘Kat, did you call me?’

Chantelle, ears pricked at all times, appeared from the stockroom, head cocked slightly to one side, managing to direct the smirk playing at the corners of her lips towards Isla whilst still appearing assiduously sweet and helpful to her boss. Isla’s nostrils flared as she held in her distaste. Chantelle was going to love this.

‘I thought you were going for Raspberry Sorbet?’ Chantelle’s voice was innocent. As if examining a lab experiment, she picked up an offending lock of hair, looking at Isla, head to one side.

‘I put the colour in myself.’ Isla was clutching at straws, and she knew it. ‘I checked the box. Followed the usual procedures.’

‘Well, you can’t have, can you?’ Chantelle looked triumphant. ‘Don’t worry, Kat, sweetie.’ Kat sat back with a satisfied expression. ‘I’ll have this sorted for you in no time.’

‘I could—’ Isla began, fruitlessly.

‘You’ve said it yourself many times, Isla. There’s no room for mistakes in this game.’ Kat looked down at her phone, jabbing at the screen with glossy cerise nails.

‘Right. I’ll clear up.’ Isla made to wheel her trolley back into the staff room.

‘Leave it.’ Kat’s tone was final.

‘Mel?’ Chantelle called to the junior. Mel looked up from the pile of hair she’d been sweeping back and forth for the last five minutes whilst earwigging in to the whole conversation. ‘Get rid of this stuff. Isla’s just leaving.’

Isla opened her mouth to speak, but Kat’s warning glance was enough to stop her in her tracks. Mel wheeled her trolley, equipment lying uncleaned and disorganized, into the staff room. Kat gave Isla another look, one that said quite clearly: ‘Are you STILL here?’

Isla picked up her bag and slipped out of the door, fuming silently.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!


Follow author Rachael Lucas on Twitter @karamina 
Wildflower Bay is available to buy as of the 11th August
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