Friday, 31 July 2020

Hideous Beauty review

Dylan is forced to come out after his secret relationship with Ellis is exposed on social media, but to his surprise, everyone is really supportive - or appears to be. But Dylan's and El's happiness is short-lived, and following a tragic accident, Dylan begins to realize how little he knows about the boy he loves or those closest to him.

Content warning: cancer, physical and sexual abuse

This is one of those books that leaves a lasting impression and takes you through the full range of emotions. It's a moving, own-voices story of grief and love. 

I usually struggle with books about grief but the past/present structure allowed for plenty of happiness and levity in between the heartbreaking scenes of loss. It allows the reader to see the loveliness of El and Dylan's relationship in the past, as well as following the story of grief and the intriguing mystery in the present.

The first-person narrative is incredibly raw and believable. It draws you right in and feels like you experience everything alongside Dylan.

The whole book deals with really difficult subject matters, but it does it with real compassion and warmth. This is a brilliant, thought-provoking novel that feels like a snapshot of a real life.

Thank you to Usborne for the Netgalley ARC!

If you like the sound of this novel, try And the Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando. 


Wednesday, 29 July 2020

The Island Cover Reveal and extract

I'm thrilled to reveal the cover and share a sneaky peak at The Island by C.L. Taylor, which is described as Lost meets The Hunger Games. How gorgeous is this? I love the pop of colour against the dark water!

Now for the blurb and the incredible first chapter!

Welcome to The Island.

Where your worst fears are about to come true…

It was supposed to be the perfect holiday: a week-long trip for six teenage friends on a remote tropical island.

But when their guide dies of a stroke leaving them stranded, the trip of a lifetime turns into a nightmare.

Because someone on the island knows each of the group’s worst fears. And one by one, they’re becoming a reality.

Seven days in paradise. A deadly secret.

Who will make it off the island alive?

How good is that? I love a creepy remote island and I've added this one to my tbr list immediately! 

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker review

“Congratulations, new kid. Welcome to the afterlife.”

What if death is only the beginning?

When Harriet Stoker dies after falling from a balcony in a long-abandoned building, she discovers a world of ghosts with magical powers – shape-shifting, hypnosis, even the ability to possess the living.

Felix, Kasper, Rima and Leah welcome her into their world, eager to make friends with the new arrival. Yet Harriet is more interested in unleashing her own power, even if it means destroying everyone around her. But when all of eternity is at stake, the afterlife can be a dangerous place to make an enemy.

Every time I read a new Lauren James book, I say it's her best yet. And then she writes another and I stand corrected. The Reckless Afterlife of Harriet Stoker is gripping, moving and brilliantly plotted. 

Harriet is the most fascinating main character. It was so fun trying to work out what she'd get up to next and how I'd feel about her by the end. 

The plot of this book is incredibly fresh and inventive, and I found it impossible to predict. Most books I read seem to have their roots in others, but this is completely its own thing! The darker exploration of the afterlife is balanced out by sweetness and humour. Incorporating supernatural elements is a new dimension for Lauren James, and it really works.

Another amazing element is the setting. Basing a book in one location can be hard to pull off, but in this story it created at times a lovely, close-knit community for the ghosts and at others a tense, claustrophobic environment that they can't escape. 

Lauren James is one of my favourite authors, and I think this is her best book yet. 

Thank you so much to Walker Books for the review copy on Netgalley!

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Victoria Stitch: Bad and Glittering review

Twins, Victoria Stitch and Celestine, are denied their royal birth-right. Celestine accepts the decision with good grace, but Victoria Stitch is consumed with her obsession for power.

The twins are like moonlight and sunshine - could it be possible to break free of the role you have been given, rewrite your story, and change your own destiny?

This is a gorgeous start to a new middle-grade series and is perfect for readers ready to move on from the Isadora Moon books.

Reading Victoria Stitch is such a sensory experience. The illustrations are beautifully Gothic and the setting is sumptuously described. It was one of those books where I want to eat the food and live in the world.

I loved the deliciously dark touches of this book, from the plot to the characters. Victoria is a fascinating character with so many depths and her relationship with Celestine felt really believable. 

This book really is a breath of fresh air. The plot is super unique and the dark fairy tale quality is great. I also found the magical system inventive and accessible for younger readers.

I had a lot of fun reading this and I can't wait to see what Victoria Stitch gets up to next!

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

The Loop by Ben Oliver – review

Luka Kane has been inside hi-tech prison the Loop for over two years. A death sentence is hanging over his head but his day-to-day routine is mind-numbingly repetitive, broken only by the books brought to him by the sympathetic warden, Wren. Then everything starts to change: rumours of war are whispered in the courtyard and the government-issued rain stops falling. On Luka's last, desperate day, Wren issues him a terrifying warning: breaking out of the Loop might be Luka's only chance to save himself - and the world ...

The Loop is the perfect escapist read, with a gripping plot that never lets up and an inventive, absorbing world. 

The plot of this book is so intriguing. It begins with a realistic portrayal of Luka's life in the Loop, gradually introducing readers to the world. I really loved the book references and it seems very appropriate for 2020 that Luka uses books for escapism. 

This is one of those books where the writing feels effortless. Each character has distinctive dialogue and characteristics, and the voice is immediately arresting. 

I also liked the science-fiction elements of the book. They're super creative and yet easily understandable for a science novice like me. 

This is a brilliant start to a series and I can see why it's been optioned for TV. It has a cinematic quality that will transfer really easily to the screen, and I can't wait to see where this series goes.