Thursday, 27 October 2016

Review for As I Descended by Robin Talley

As I Descended by Robin Talley
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Release: 6th September 2016
Genre: YA, LGBT, Retelling
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple―but one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey. Golden child Delilah is a legend at exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. But Delilah doesn’t know that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything―absolutely anything―to unseat Delilah for the scholarship. After all, it would lock in Maria’s attendance at Stanford―and assure her and Lily four more years in a shared dorm room.

Together, Maria and Lily harness the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school. But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what’s imagined, the girls must attempt to put a stop to the chilling series of events they’ve accidentally set in motion.

Macbeth is my favourite of Shakespeare’s plays so when I saw that Robin Talley had written a LGBT YA retelling I knew that I just had to give it a read during the build up to Halloween and this book lived up to my every expectation!

As I Descended follows the students of Acheron Academy an exclusive boarding school that nurtures competitiveness and values success in its pupils. As candidates for the coveted Kingsley prize are soon to be selected, the fierce competition between the students heats up. For secret couple Maria and Lily, winning the prize would mean securing their future together earning Maria a place with Lily at Stanford University. With the schools it girl Delilah set to win the prize, the girls realise that for Maria to take first place they need to get Delilah out of the picture, but what starts out as a vindictive plan quickly spirals into a deadly accident. With their futures at stake, Maria and Lily must decide just how far they’re willing to go to protect their relationship and themselves.

As with all of Robin Talley’s books, As I Descended is brimming with diverse characters which is something I always appreciate. The characters in this book are so well written and complex, they’re neither good nor bad which I really loved. It was fun to get into the heads of so many different types of people and to learn about the motives behind their actions.

The story opens on an Ouija board scene and builds in creepiness throughout the book. As I Descended is the perfect blend of thriller and horror story, mixing together human misdeeds with the supernatural for a double dose of terror. This book transcends so many genres offering a little bit of everything to satisfy the tastes of any reader.

With its boarding school setting, ruthlessly ambitious characters, and spooky storyline, As I Descended ticked so many of the right boxes for me. If you love scary reads about jealousy and revenge you’ll love As I Descended.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Five YA Books To Read This Halloween!

Halloween is drawing ever closer and if you're anything like me you're diving head first into some spooky reads at the moment to get into the spirit of the season! Today I wanted to bring you my top five YA book recommendations that I think would be perfect to read this Halloween for anyone looking for something scary or supernatural to get their teeth stuck into.

 The Graces by Laure Eve

It's no secret that The Graces is one of my favourite books of 2016 and if you haven't had the pleasure of reading this wonderful book yet then Halloween is the perfect time to do so! The book follows three siblings who are rumored to be witches and new girl River who develops an obsession with finding out the truth about them. This book is dark and gothic, twisty and turny and is an absolute must read for Halloween!

The Deviants by C.J. Skuse

C.J. Skuse is the best author to become obsessed with over Halloween. All of her books are wickedly dark and an absolute delight to read, but my favourite of her novels is her latest book The Deviants. This book is so shocking that I never want to say too much about it for fear of spoiling someone, so I'll just say that if you like thrillers that throw surprises at you that you never see coming check out this book!

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics

This is a book that I read last Halloween and it still sticks with me now as one of my favourite YA Horror stories. What I love about Daughters Unto Devils is that it doesn’t read like a YA novel the creepy, gory parts don’t feel watered down so as to not scare a younger audience making it a genuinely scary read for anyone of any age. It's a short book at just over 200 pages and is perfect for devouring on Halloween night!

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough

I read a LOT of thrillers both in the YA and Adult genres and 13 Minutes is one of the best thrillers that I've read this year. It's so well crafted and kept me up until the early hours of the morning turning the pages. If you like Scream Queens or Pretty Little Liars you will love the bitchiness and backstabbing that goes on in 13 Minutes.

As I Descended by Robin Talley

I just finished reading As I Descended the other day and it is one of my favourite books that I've read for Halloween this year! This is a YA retelling of Macbeth and has all of the ghostly and bloody goings on that you'd expect. Any scary story that opens on a Ouija board scene is set to be a good one in my opinion and this book builds on the creepiness throughout. If you like mystery, murder and a dash of the supernatural you won't want to miss this book!

 I hope that if you're looking for a good Halloween read 
that you decide to check out these brilliant books!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Where to Start With Thrillers

As the days get shorter and the nights grow colder there's nothing that I love more than grabbing a blanket, making a hot drink and sitting down in front of the fire with a thriller. Over the last couple of years I have really gotten into this genre and now consider it to be one of my favourites and I know I'm not the only one! Thrillers are very popular at the moment and I am constantly asked by both my readers and loved ones where I would recommend starting with this genre. With Halloween approaching I thought that it was the perfect time to create my very own guide on where to start with thrillers for anyone looking for a dark and gritty read.

 The Bestsellers

Sometimes the best place to start is at the top and Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train are bestsellers for good reason, they really are some of the best in the thriller genre. Although different in plot they do have some similarities with their unlikable characters, gripping story line, shocking twists and a missing girl and in my opinion you can't go wrong with either one. Gone Girl was the first thriller that I read and is largely what got me hooked on this genre. Both books also have fantastic movie adaptations that I'd recommend watching after reading.

 The Big Twist


One of the things that I love about thrillers are the big twists that you never see coming. I read a lot from this genre and so have gotten to the point where I'm pretty good at guessing where a book is heading but two books that made me gasp out loud in shock were The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Kind Worth Killing. These two books genuinely kept me on my toes and I'd recommend them to anyone who loves books that take a turn for the unexpected.

The Best Villain


We all love a good villain and You and Behind Closed Doors offer up two of my favourites. You is actually told from the bad guy's point of view - don't get me wrong, he is a very bad man, but somehow you end up liking him anyway and Behind Closed Doors features a villain that I loathed with an almighty passion, he really is despicable and I physically wanted to punch my book at times because I despised him that much. If you love a good baddie then these two books are for you.

The Page Turner


For me, pacing is crucial when it comes to thrillers and two books that get it spot on are The Missing and Distress Signals. In both books the tension is so taut throughout that I physical could not put them down. The twists and turns are expertly placed and the plot revelations are so well timed. If you're looking for a book that will keep you up reading late into the night you can't go wrong with these two.

The Most Sinister


Now, if you have a strong stomach and your motto is that the more sick and twisted a story is the better then I would recommend that you check out How I Lost You and Pretty Girls. I'm definitely not someone who gets scared easily when it comes to fiction but both of these books were so dark and messed up that they played on my mind long after I turned the lights out ready to go to sleep. If you think that you can handle them, then I'd certainly recommend these two books for a creepy, sinister read.

 I hope that these recommendations help anyone looking for a good thriller and that they get you as obsessed with the genre as I am!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Review for The Singalong Society for Singletons by Katey Lovell

The Singalong Society for Singletons 
by Katey Lovell 
Publisher: HarperImpulse
Release: 7th October 2016 (e-book)
Genre: Chick-lit, Women’s Fiction
Source: Copy received from the author in exchange for an honest review

"A charming, feel good novel about the healing powers of friendship…and Frozen!

Monique and Issy are teachers, housemates and lovers of musicals! Their Friday night routine consists of snacks, wine and the Frozen DVD. So when Monique’s boyfriend moves to America for a year and her sister Hope moves in because of her own relationship woes, Friday nights get a new name… ‘The Singalong Society for Singletons’!

It’s a chance to get together, sing along to their favourite tracks from the best-loved West End shows, and forget the worries of work, relationships and love (or lack of it). But when Issy shares the details of their little group further afield, they get some unexpected new members who might just change their opinions on singledom for good…"

I’ve wanted to read The Singalong Society for Singletons for a long time, when I first heard about it I thought that it sounded like a fun feel good read and I was not disappointed! With this books focus on musicals it brings something new and different to women’s fiction. This warm cosy story is the perfect book to stay inside and snuggle down with this autumn.

The book follows Mon, Issy, Hope, and Connie, four friends who are utterly fed up of the dating scene. As the weather turns colder, the women decide to ditch their Friday nights out on the town in favour of snuggling inside with their favourite musicals, snacks, and wine whilst they sing along to the soundtracks Bridget-Jones-style. For once the drama is playing out onscreen instead of in their love lives and that’s just fine by them – thank you very much. But when Issy invites two handsome men to join their Friday night get togethers, the singalong society for singletons starts to become not-so-single anymore. Can good music and good friends really mend a broken heart? These singletons are about to find out.

I had such a good time reading this book! I loved the friendships between Mon, Issy, Hope, and Connie, their Friday nights in sounded like so much fun and was something really fresh to read about. I’m a big fan of musicals and loved seeing what the singletons would choose to watch from week to week. There’s a fantastic selection of musicals featured in this book each with a great soundtrack that I would find myself humming along to after I put the book down. This book does a great job of capturing the joy of musicals and made me want to rummage through my DVD collection and pull out all of my old favourites to re-watch.

Like the musicals that the characters in this book are so fond of, The Singalong Society for Singletons was uplifting, celebratory and jovial making it an absolute delight to read. With a likeable cast, a touch of drama, and a will-they-wont-they romance, The Singalong Society for Singletons gets a standing ovation from me.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Before I Let You In Blog Tour: Review and Giveaway!

Hello and welcome to my stop on the Before I Let You In Blog Tour! Today I'm bringing to you my thoughts on this gripping thriller and I have 5 copies of the book up for grabs over on Twitter, so don't miss your chance to win.

Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst 
Publisher: Headline
Release: 28th August 2016
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Source: Bought

"Karen is meant to be the one who fixes problems.

It's her job, as a psychiatrist - and it's always been her role as a friend.

But Jessica is different. She should be the patient, the one that Karen helps.

But she knows things about Karen. Her friends, her personal life. Things no patient should know.

And Karen is starting to wonder if she should have let her in . . ."

Last year I was completely blown away by Blackhurst’s debut novel ‘How I Lost You’ and have been eagerly anticipating another book from this author. Before I Let You In had me just as glued to the pages as its predecessor cementing Jenny Blackhurst as one of my favourite writers of the popular psychological thriller genre.

Before I Let You In follows Karen, a young woman who seems to have it all: a loving boyfriend, good friends and a great job as a psychiatrist. Karen has always been a fixer, so when new patient Jessica comes to see her she’s determined to help.

As Karen gets to know Jessica, she notices an uncanny similarity between their lives. At first she puts it down to coincidence, but then Jessica begins to reveal information about Karen and her two best friends Eleanor and Bea that she couldn’t possibly know. Who is Jessica? And what does she want? As Karen’s own sanity begins to crack as her perfect life crumbles around her, she starts to regret the day she ever let Jessica in.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that this book is told not only from Karen’s point of view but also from Eleanor, Bea and Jessica’s. The multi narrative gives each chapter a different vantage point on current events within the story and the switching perspective keeps the plot racing forward towards its conclusion. I loved the focus on Karen, Eleanor and Bea’s friendship, the complex and realistically drawn women were my favourite aspect of this book and the dynamic between them reminded me of the relationships I have with my own best friends.

Before I Let You In was one of those books which I thought I had all sussed out but it went in a direction that I wasn’t expecting, which for me is the sign of a cracking thriller. Jenny Blackhurst really is one of the best in her field and fans of ‘How I Lost You’ will not be disappointed with this twisty, sinister tale of friendship and revenge.

Like the sound of Before I Let You In
Don't miss your chance to win 1 of 5 copies over on Twitter!

 Follow the rest of the blog tour

Monday, 3 October 2016

September Round Up and Book of the Month

Hello everyone! After a month away it's sooo nice to be back and I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into blogging with lots of posts planned for Halloween and Christmas, but first things first, it's time to round off the summer and share what I read in September before moving on to the books I'm looking forward to in October. I also wanted to say, in case you hadn't seen on Twitter, that I have been nominated for Blogger of the Year in the UKYA Blogger Awards! I can't believe it and wanted to thank the authors and publishers who nominated me - I'm chuffed to bits! What great news to start a brand new season of blogging on, hey?

September's Book of the Month is Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

I'm not a great reader of poetry (and by that I mean that I've hardly read any at all) but I was curious about this collection after hearing great things about it online, so I picked it up and had a flick through it whilst I was in a book shop on holiday. One of the poems I came upon actually made me cry right there in the middle of the store so I knew that I just had to get a copy, so I bought it and took it to the beach where I sat and read it overlooking the sea. I literally had some sort of spiritual awakening reading this book. It moved me so deeply and I related to so many of the poems. Whether you're into poetry or not, I would seriously recommend giving this collection a go. I'm confident in saying that every woman will get something out of reading this book.

The poem that made me cry in public

Read in September
89.) I Let You Go by Clare MacKintosh (4.5*)
90.) Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan (4*)
91.) Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (5*)
92.) Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas (5*)
93.) Super Awkward by Beth Garrod (DNF)
94.) Cell 7 by Kerry Drewery (4*)
95.) Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst (4*)
96.) Liar Liar by M.J. Arlidge (4.5*)
97.) Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (5*)

Monthly Book Awards
Best Plot: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Best Writing: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Best Cover: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Best Characters: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Best Ending: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Best Romance: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Best Friendship: Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst
Most un-put-down-able: Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
Most Memorable: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
Best Moral: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

Top 3 Most Recommended Books: Milk and Honey, Crooked Kingdom, Empire of Storms

Books I’m Looking Forward to Being Released in October 
The Midnight Star by Marie Lu
Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
Mistletoe and Murder by Robin Stevens
Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
Christmas Under a Starlit Sky by Holly Martin
Lizzie's Christmas Escape by Christie Barlow
Not Just For Christmas by Alex Brown
Comfort and Joy by Cathy Bramley
The Singalong Society for Singletons by Katey Lovell
Killing Kate by Alex Lake
Tell Me No Lies by Lisa Hall

 What was your favourite book of September? 
 And what are you looking forward to reading in October?
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