Monday, 14 January 2019

5* BOOK REVIEW | 'Little Liar' by Julia Gray

Hey guys and happy Monday! Today I am excited to be sharing with you a review of a book I read recently, that I feel has been in my TBR pile for the longest time! I didn't really know what to expect when I first picked this up, as I feel like the blurb doesn't give too much away... however before long I was totally gripped, and I couldn't put it down.

Little Liar follows Nora Tobias, who tells a lot of lies. Some are smaller, some are big, some are so big they threaten to collapse everything around her. When Nora meets Bel, older, more tumultous and perhaps even a bigger liar than she is, Nora is introduced to a whole new London, and the glitz and unpredictable glamour of the acting world. But soon things begin to spiral dangerously out of control, and there isn't a lie big enough to help Nora get out of this one...

I was kindly sent Little Liar by Andersen Press in exchange for an honest review :) 

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Nora has lied about many things. But has she told her most dangerous lie of all?

There’s a new art assistant at Nora’s school, and he’s crossed a line. Nora decides to teach him a lesson he won’t forget.

But not everything goes quite to plan, and Nora needs an escape. She befriends the rich and talented Bel, who longs for a part in a remake of a famous film. Bel is unpredictable, jealous and crazy, but she opens up a new world for Nora, and that makes her irresistible. 

As events start to spin wildly out of control, Nora must decide where her loyalties lie – and what deceits she can get away with.

I loved this book. Right from the beginning I got swept into Nora's narrative and, to be honest, I couldn't get enough. She's not a morally sound character, not by any means, but she is complex and interesting and real. I was rooting for her the whole way throughout the book, even when she was being less than decent. There were just so many layers to her character that everything that happened was suprising, and overal made this book a complete joy to read.

I thought all the other characters were also really well developed and facinating in their own right. I particularly liked Nora's relationship with her mother. I haven't really seen a dynamic like theirs in any YA novel before. There were so many mysteries that Nora revealed to the reader gradually throughout the book, which basically kept me on tenterhooks the entire time. We only really find out the truth about Jonah Trace gradually, as if Nora herself doesn't want to tell us what happened. This layering of the narrative was so effective, and made the story so much more exciting to read, for me. 

The chaos really starts to errupt when Nora meets Bel, and this felt to me like part two of the book. This was the part of the book that was very tense, and I just had a feeling throughout that something was going to happen. If you've read Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart, you will definitely love Little Liar. I loved the psychological aspect, and Bel is just such a brilliant character. Everything about the second half of the book was so unpredictable and compelling. The ending of the book was so well thought-out and brought everything full circle for me, but at the same time it was not simply satisfying. Gray has concocted an absolute corker of a psychological YA thriller, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!

Check out Julia Gray here:

Until next time :)

Friday, 11 January 2019

BOOK REVIEW | 'Oh My Gods' by Alexandra Sheppard (****)

Hey guys and happy Friday! Today I am thrilled to be sharing with you a review of a fabulous book I read recently, that will start your new year reading off with a bang! 

Oh My Gods is a fantastic book following Helen Thomas, who is in pretty much every respect a normal teenager, spending her time hanging out with friends, texting boys and worrying about her exams. There is however, one exception: Helen's family are all Greek gods, and Helen herself is only half-human. And this doesn't come without its problems. If her family blow her cover, a dreadful fate awaits them. Will Helen's family be able to control their craziness for their own, and Helen's sake? 

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Life as a half-mortal teenager should be epic. 
But, for Helen Thomas, it's tragic.

She's just moved in with her dorky dad and self-absorbed older siblings - who happen to be the ancient Greek gods, living incognito in London!

Between keeping her family's true identities secret, trying to impress her new friends, and meeting an actually cute boy, Helen's stress levels are higher than Mount Olympus.

She needs to rein in her chaotic family before they blow their cover AND her chances at a half-normal social life.

Or is Helen fated for an embarrassment of mythical proportions?

I knew right from reading the blurb that I would love this book, and I was absolutely right! First of all, the cover is fantastic and drew me right in. Whoever designed it deserves the best chocolate money can buy. And it also reflected what the book was about: Helen, and what a wonderful protagonist Helen Thomas is! She was portrayed in a brilliantly realistic way and I loved her relationship with her friends and her family. In the book she has a warm voice and gritty attitude to the lifestyle she has been lumped with. As the years go on I am so happy to see that interesting and multi-dimensional female protagonists are simply becoming the norm in YA literature. I'm glad that from now on kids will be growing up with loads of fabulous characters by their side, not just a few. Speaking of, it was so wonderfully refreshing how diverse this book was, and how diversity was an active discussion in the book. This made me very happy indeed.

The story itself was incredibly well crafted and the huge variety of characters drove the plot forward up until the fantastic ending. The twists and turns kept me hanging on until the last few chapters. Oh My Gods is a book that both at once is comforting and exciting. I'm looking forward to see what Sheppard has up her sleeve next!

Check out Alexandra Sheppard here:

Until next time <3

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

BLOG TOUR | 'Whiteout' by Gabriel Dylan | 5 Minutes With... Gabriel Dylan'

Hey guys, and happy Monday! Today I am so excited to be part of the Whiteout blog tour, to celebrate the publication of this gloriously creepy book by Gabriel Dylan. I read this over the Christmas holidays, and even a roaring fire and a hot chocolate didn't make me feel safe...

‘She sat us all down and told us a story. About things that lived in the woods. Things that only came out at night.’

For Charlie, a school ski trip is the perfect escape from his unhappy home life. Until a storm blows in and the resort town is cut off from the rest of the world. Trapped on the mountain, the students wait for the blizzards to pass, along with mysterious ski guide Hanna. 

But as night falls and the town’s long buried secrets begin to surface, the storm is the least of their problems….

A chilling RED EYE horror, perfect for fans of Dawn Kurtagich, Juno Dawson and Charlie Higson.

And today I am thrilled to welcome Gabriel Dylan to my blog, to talk all things school ski trips, writing the underdog, and how he fell in love with all things horror.

Hey Gabriel, and thanks for being on my blog today! What inspired you to write Whiteout?

Whiteout was inspired by a trip to the Austrian Alps several years ago – I’d recently moved inland from Cornwall and really missed surfing, so I taught myself to snowboard on a dryslope near the school where I teach. A few months after, I got asked to lead a sixth form ski trip to Austria and, although I’d hardly ever seen real snow, I thought ‘yeah, why not?’ The trip to the Alps was a little hellish, twenty seven hours on a coach, and the resort was in the middle of nowhere at the top of a mountain. But once we arrived I fell in love with it – Hochkar was isolated, atmospheric, and stunningly beautiful. And a few days later a storm came in, with the locals saying that it was more snow than they’d had in thirty years, and we got snowed in. I was there one night, standing on the balcony, looking out over the moonlit slopes, and I suddenly thought ‘what if there’s something out there? Something that doesn’t want us to leave?’ Once the idea came to me, I couldn’t get rid of it. And I’ve always loved vampire mythology, like Salem’s Lot and Nosferatu, so once I started writing I couldn’t stop.

(Hochkar, the Austrian village that inspired the setting for Whiteout)

Tell us a bit more about the main character, Charlie. Do you have anything in common with him?

I love the outsiders and the underdogs, and Charlie is one of those. And I guess I was a little similar growing up – I didn’t really fit in, my head was always buried in a book or a comic, and I just wasn’t interested in conventional sports, so I never fell in with any of the teams or cliques. And then one day I saw some kids surfing and asked my parents if I could try it, and I was absolutely hooked. A lot of my friends came from hanging out at the beach, and surfing gave me a kind of belonging and a sense of direction, a place I fitted in. And I put a little of that into Charlie’s character, with his love of snowboarding and the way he doesn’t belong, and how he’s at his happiest out on the slopes. The other influence on Charlie was some of the kids I work with in my day job, running a sixth form and teaching English. There’s so many pupils I meet who have to deal with awful things – loss of family members, illness, awful home lives – and they are incredibly brave in the way they cope with whatever life throws at them and I wanted to put a little of that into the character of Charlie.

Do you normally come up with plot or characters first?

Most of the time it’s the plot, and then the characters fall into place afterwards, although the character of Hanna in Whiteout was there with me right from the start and in many ways I see her as the protagonist with all that the mountains have taken from her. With Whiteout, I tried lots of different ways to write it, but in the end I really enjoyed the claustrophobic nature of the story, and the way that the resort of Kaldgellan was almost a character in its own right and the story was confined to just a few days – somehow it made writing it that little bit more urgent.

What made you want to write a horror story?

I grew up on a diet of Stephen King, Richard Laymon, James Herbert, and all those other really cool horror writers, at an age where I probably shouldn’t have been reading them, so they felt a little forbidden and impossible to put down. And I love a scare, and the psychological side of the horror genre. Stephen King’s The Stand is one of my top three books of all time, and I really enjoy the genre and the way it takes you away from the real world. I’ve tried writing in other genres, particularly fantasy as the other author I read a lot growing up was David Gemmell, but I liked the contemporary nature of horror and the way you can put all these creepy and otherworldly elements into a modern day setting.

What's so special about YA literature?

For me, it’s definitely the pace of the writing. I’ve got a very short attention span, so a book has to grab me right away and keep hold of me, and I find YA as a genre really does that. Recently I’ve read Sally Green’s Half Bad, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, and Alex Bell’s Frozen Charlotte and I found them all really hard to out down, although my book of the year so far would be Neal Schusterman’s Scythe. I loved the concept of the novel and the way it takes a utopia and slowly drags it down into disrepair. Also, the writing of all of the above authors is top notch – there’s no dumbing down or pulling punches, which I think is so important.

What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

Keep at it. I was in my early twenties when I started writing and now I’m much older! But I wrote because I loved it, with the idea of publication or anyone even reading my stuff a distant, unachievable dream. So it certainly hasn’t come overnight for me. And I guess read a lot, and write what you love. I think if you enjoy writing it, the chances are your target audience will enjoy reading it, too.

Sum up Whiteout in three words...

Scary Snowy Vampires!

Thank you so much, Gabriel, for taking the time to answer my questions!

Make sure you guys check out the rest of the posts on the blog tour, and keep an eye out for my review coming very soon :)

Buy Whiteout here:

Check out Gabriel Dylan here:

Until next time :)

Friday, 28 December 2018

BOOK REVIEW | 'The Rains' by Gregg Hurwitz (***.5)

Hey guys, and happy Friday! Today I am happy to be sharing with you a review of a brilliant book I read recently, The Rains by Gregg Hurwitz. I have been reading quite a few horror books recently and I can't get enough! Even though Halloween was a good few months ago now... don't judge me...

The Rains follows brothers Patrick and Chance, who up until now have led quiet, relatively normal lives on their uncle's farm. One night, the world changes forever. Every person from Creek's Cause over the age of eighteen has turned into inhuman beings, bent on taking every last child and using them for their sick, twisted ends. Chance and Patrick don't have long... Patrick is set to turn eighteen in just a few weeks. The fate of humanity rests on their shoulders. Do they have what it takes to save the whole of humankind?

I was kindly sent The Rains by Penguin Books in exchange for an honest review :)

In one terrifying night, the peaceful community of Creek’s Cause turns into a war zone. No one under the age of eighteen is safe. Chance Rain and his older brother, Patrick, have already fended off multiple attacks from infected adults by the time they arrive at the school where other young survivors are hiding. Most of the kids they know have been dragged away by once-trusted adults who are now ferocious, inhuman beings. The parasite that transformed them takes hold after people turn eighteen—and Patrick’s birthday is only a few weeks away. 

Determined to save Patrick’s life and the lives of the remaining kids, the brothers embark on a mission to uncover the truth about the parasites—and what they find is horrifying.

Battling an enemy not of this earth, Chance and Patrick become humanity’s only hope for salvation.

I didn't know what to expect from this at first, since I haven't read a whole lot of zombie-esque stories. However, I soon discovered that The Rains was one deliciously creepy, gory, electrifying read. There's nothing like a good ol' tale of survival, and The Rains brought me this, and much more. I thought the setting was really well described and added to the tension that ran through the story. The writing was also very evocative, and brought the setting and the characters very much to life. 

I thought the plot as a whole was carefully crafted, and near the end especially I found myself reading compulsively to find out what happened. Although the book ended on a cliffhanger, it still ended in a satisfying way and just made me the more eager to pick up the next book. Although I thought all the characters interacted really interestingly with each other, I didn't feel myself connecting that much to any of them in particular. This might be to do with the target age of the book; forgetting the gore and horror, I think it belongs with the lower age range of YA. I'm interested to see what character development occurs with the next book, and where the story goes!

Check out Greg Hurwitz here:

Until next time :)

Saturday, 15 December 2018

PULP BLOG TOUR | AUTHOR INTERVIEW | '5 Minutes With... Robin Talley'

Hey guys, and happy Saturday! Today I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour to celebrate the publication of the wonderful Pulp by Robin Talley! I am so excited to read this so I'm thrilled that she is appearing on my blog today to talk all things Pulp, YA literature, and the lesbian pulp fiction of the 1950s...

But first, check out the blurb here...

In 1955, eighteen-year-old Janet Jones keeps the love she shares with her best friend Marie a secret. It’s not easy being gay in Washington, DC, in the age of McCarthyism, but when she discovers a series of books about women falling in love with other women, it awakens something in Janet. As she juggles a romance she must keep hidden and a newfound ambition to write and publish her own story, she risks exposing herself—and Marie—to a danger all too real.

Sixty-two years later, Abby Zimet can’t stop thinking about her senior project and its subject—classic 1950s lesbian pulp fiction. Between the pages of her favorite book, the stresses of Abby’s own life are lost to the fictional hopes, desires and tragedies of the characters she’s reading about. She feels especially connected to one author, a woman who wrote under the pseudonym “Marian Love,” and becomes determined to track her down and discover her true identity.

In this novel told in dual narratives, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley weaves together the lives of two young women connected across generations through the power of words. A stunning story of bravery, love, how far we’ve come and how much farther we have to go. 

And now I'd like to welcome Robin Talley to Delightful Book Reviews!

Hi Robin, and thanks for appearing on my blog! What was the inspiration behind Pulp?

I read one of the earliest lesbian pulp novels years ago when I was doing research for another book — Marijane Meaker’s groundbreaking Spring Fire, published in 1952. I was mesmerized, both by the story itself and by the world it presented. It focused on the relationship between two deeply closeted lesbians living in a time when being who they were meant having to go to extreme lengths to keep their sexuality a secret, and facing horrific consequences if they ever slipped up (which of course they did). I learned that there was an entire wave of these novels published in the U.S. and elsewhere, some of which sold millions of copies, all during a time and place when anyone who didn’t conform to expected norms faced terrible oppression. I wanted to explore that culture, and I thought it would be interesting to look at it through the lens of a teenage character in the present day — someone to whom all of this would seem like irrelevant ancient history, until she probes a little deeper and finds out it’s anything but.

Tell us a bit more about the main characters, Janet and Abby. Do you have anything in common with them?

Well, Janet’s an 18-year-old closeted lesbian living in 1955, and Abby’s a 17-year-old out-and-proud lesbian living in 2017, and I’ve never been either of those things (though I’m closer to Abby’s era than I am to Janet’s). But like the two of them I’m a proud, queer resident of Washington, D.C. And all three of us share a strong commitment to social justice.

Do you normally come up with plot or characters first?

It really varies from book to book. In the case of Pulp, I started with the plot.

What’s so special about YA literature?

YA is all about the lives of teenagers, who are the most fascinating people out there. Teens are going through so many firsts in their lives, and they’re so passionate about what they’re doing and what they’re learning, not to mention the people in their lives. Living inside their heads and telling their stories is a lot more fun than thinking about adults all the time.

What advice would you offer aspiring writers?

First and foremost, read everything you can get your hands on. Every word you read, whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, books, stories, articles, or even fanfiction, gets absorbed into your brain and helps you develop your own writing style. Plus, it’s fun!

Sum up Pulp in three words…

Reading, writing, lesbians. 

Thank you so much, Robin, for appearing on my blog!

 Buy Pulp here:

Check out Robin Talley here:

Make sure you guys check out the rest of the spots on the blog tour <3

Until next time :)

Monday, 10 December 2018

BOOK REVIEW | 'Small Spaces' by Sarah Epstein (****)

Hey guys, and happy Monday! Today I am excited to be sharing a review with you of a brilliant YA thriller I read recently, called Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein. Small Spaces follows 17-year-old Natasha Carmody as she struggles to forget her troubled past, and move forward into a brighter future. A traumatic memory from her childhood occupies her mind, day and night: the day when six-year-old Mallory Fisher was abducted from a carnival. Tash saw who took her, but no one believed her. They still don't. Many years later, Tash has to wrestle with her own mind, and navigate around the murky dimension where imagination and reality combine.

I was kindly sent a copy of Small Spaces by Walker Books in exchange for an honest review <3

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

We don’t pick and choose what to be afraid of. Our fears pick us.

Tash Carmody has been traumatised since childhood, when she witnessed her gruesome imaginary friend Sparrow lure young Mallory Fisher away from a carnival. At the time nobody believed Tash, and she has since come to accept that Sparrow wasn’t real. Now fifteen and mute, Mallory’s never spoken about the week she went missing. 

As disturbing memories resurface, Tash starts to see Sparrow again. And she realises Mallory is the key to unlocking the truth about a dark secret connecting them. Does Sparrow exist after all? Or is Tash more dangerous to others than she thinks?

As soon as I saw the blurb for this book, I knew it was one I had to read. I love psychological thrillers, and in my experience YA ones are especially good. The premise of this book was unlike anything I had read before, and I'm happy to say that I was not disappointed. Epstein's writing is gorgeously detailed and deliciously creepy, and I found myself hanging onto every single word. Tash was not necessarily a likeable character, but her frustrations at not being heard or believed seeped out of the story and she went through a remarkable character development by the end of the book. I think the relationship between Tash and her mum was really well explored and interesting to read about. All of the characters in fact were very well-crafted and they all fit into the narrative seamlessly.

I think that the plot really drove the story forward and there were twists and turns in exactly the right moments. I really liked the excerpts of conversation between Tash and her psychologist; they gave an interesting background to the situation and allowed us to clearly see Tash's state of mind. Epstein clearly has a talent for creating a wonderfully dark and mysterious atmosphere, and although things didn't end up how I expected, I absolutely loved how the story ended up. 

Altogether I adored Small Spaces and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good creepy psychological thriller, that will keep you second guessing right until the very last page!

Check out Sarah Epstein here:

Until next time :)

Thursday, 6 December 2018

DELIGHTFUL KIDS BOOKS | 'Watch This!' by Jane Godwin (****)

Hey guys, and happy Thursday! Today I am excited to be back with my children's book feature. I know I haven't written a post in a while but I am thrilled that today I am celebrating the publication of a fantastic children's picture book, called Watch This! Watch This! is a brilliantly bold and fun celebration of shapes, colour and movement, and is a great way to teach children both about shapes and movement. 

I was kindly sent a copy of Watch This! by Scribe publishing in exchange for an honest review <3

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Can you make a circle with your arms?
Or a triangle with your fingers?
If we work together, we can make a rectangle, or even a pyramid.

We can make lots and lots of shapes — just watch this!
A bold and playful celebration of movement, energy, pattern, colour and shape!

Watch This! is a groundbreaking modern photographic picture book about children using their bodies to make sense of shapes in a playful way, from three highly-acclaimed creators.

Watch This! is a brilliant picture book that exudes joy from every page, with the bright colours and lively text making it a great book to read aloud to small children. The pages are big and sturdy enough that they can help turn the pages too! The photographs by Hilary Walker and visual art by Beci Orpin just add to the vivacity of the book. This book teaches children shapes in a way I have never seen before, and I can imagine that children will be much more interested in seeing other children create the shapes, rather than them being just two-dimensional objects on a page. Godwin cleverly combines learning shapes and advocating fitness, and this is done so skillfully in this book. The fact that the children are named at the beginning of the book means that you can introduce them all to your child, incorporating memory and reading skills. 

Altogether, Watch This! is a brilliantly inventive picturebook that is fun and colourful and can teach your child a lot. This book is recommended from 0-4 years, and makes the perfect book to read together. 

Check out Jane Godwin here:

Until next time :)