Tuesday, 18 October 2016

5* BOOK REVIEW | '13 Minutes' by Sarah Pinborough

Hey guys, and happy Tuesday! Today I am delighted to share with you a very late book review which I should have posted weeks ago, when I first finished it. A couple weeks ago I moved back to Manchester for uni and life has been hectic filled with unpacking, catching up with friends I haven't seen for over three months and trying to get through my gigantic pile of reading for second year! 

But now I have settled into my new house and am ready for a productive and book-filled term!

Today I am so excited to share with you a 5* book review of spellbinding YA novel 13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough. I was kindly sent 13 Minutes by the lovely Lucy at Gollancz just before Christmas but I never got around to reading it - so this summer when my aim was to make a considerable dent in my TBR it was high up on my list to read! The best kind of summer novels are the ones you can completely lose yourself in - and this was definitely the case with 13 Minutes.

13 Minutes is a spine-tingling, heart-racing, superbly paced YA thriller with fantastic characters and a compelling plot to rival the most addictive Netflix show. It follows ex-bestfriends Tasha and Becca and the aftermath of Tasha's 'accident' - when she is dragged unconscious from freezing water. Everyone is desperately trying to figure out what happened - the press, Tasha's parents, even Tasha herself, who for the life of her can't remember the event. The only people who don't seem to turn detective are Tasha's best friends, Hayley and Jenny. The story that evolves from this event is dark and deadly, with several treacherous turns and twists. Safe to say that I was hooked from the very first sentence and Pinborough didn't let me go until the last page. Pitched as Pretty Little Liars meets Mean Girls I couldn't wait to get stuck in, and believe me I was far from disappointed.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

I was dead for 13 minutes.

I don't remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this - it wasn't an accident and I wasn't suicidal.

They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you're a teenage girl, it's hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I'm sure of it. But that doesn't mean they didn't try to kill me. Does it?

To put it simply, I adored 13 Minutes. It was everything I could have wished for in a YA novel, and so much more. Although I read many, many great books during the summer few kept me up into the early hours of the morning, ferociously devouring every single page. The characters jumped right off the page and into my heart, including those like Tasha, Hayley and Jenny who I loved to hate. Although this is such a dark and seemingly far-fetched story (just like Pretty Little Liars), I believed every single word - Pinborough writes with such passion and effortless flair. I was immediately transported into the world of sex, drugs and mean girls who live their life as one big performance. 13 Minutes was a gritty and deadly dark exploration of female friendships and how dangerous toxic friendships can become.

After all - rivalry, jealousy and secrets are no fun when death is the final result. Probably one of the most normal girls in the whole story, Becca finds herself part of this dangerous game and her life is soon tainted with the deadly aftermath of the strange events that occur since Tasha is pulled from her almost certain death. And once you become involved in this dangerous game, where the mean girls rule supreme, there is no going back. And before the story reaches its knife-edge resolution, Becca finds this out for herself.

I wanted to write this review with no spoilers whatsoever, so it's pretty difficult for me to share all my thoughts about the book without giving away some of the biggest plot twists! But I will say this - 13 Minutes is a book that takes you on a heart-stopping adventure and holds you hostage until the very last page. If you're after a YA thriller that is fresh, vibrant, gritty and explosive, 13 Minutes is the book for you.

Check out Sarah Pinborough here: https://sarahpinborough.com

Until next time :) 

Thursday, 13 October 2016

BLOG TOUR | BOOK REVIEW | 'Mystery At The Ice Hotel' by Sara Grant (****)

Hey readers, and happy Thursday! Today I am very excited to be part of another blog tour (I know - two in one week!) - this time celebrating the wonderful second book in Sara Grant's Chasing Danger series - Mystery At The Ice Hotel

If you have been reading this book for a while you will know that Sara is the person who really got me into blogging (read the story here!) so when I was offered by the lovely Faye to send me the first two books in her new series for kids, I couldn't pass up the opportunity. Half Lives and Dark Parties are two of my favourite YA books and I couldn't wait to read Mystery At The Ice Hotel!

Sara Grant was born and raised in the Midwestern United States. She has worked as an editor and is also the author of a number of books for young readers and teens. She lives in London and writes full-time. Check her out at Sara-grant.com!

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

After surviving a kidnapping attempt in the Maldives, Chase and Mackenzie are off to the Ice Hotel in Iceland! What could go wrong there? But as soon as they arrive, accidents start to occur that seem targeted to scare - or worse, seriously hurt - the guests. When a body shows up frozen in an ice bed, it's up to the two girls to figure out who is behind the attacks ...before anyone else gets hurt!

I was immediately drawn into Mystery At The Ice Hotel purely with the premise of two female heroes - talk about girl power! I was really into adventure and mystery books as a kid - yet only a handful of them, if that, included female protagonists. In this sense, Mystery At The Ice Hotel was a fresh, exciting and invigorating read - that kept me on tenterhooks from the first to the very last page and gave me hope for a whole generation of girls and boys who would get to experience an adventure book with two female heroes at its heart!

Above anything else, Mystery At The Ice Hotel is simply a cracking read. Sara Grant is such an effortlessly talented writer and I felt the same sense of enjoyment reading Mystery At The Ice Hotel as I did reading her YA novels. The plotting was flawless, the characters believable, interesting and above all lovable, and the whole setting beautifully described and compelling. I've never read a book set in Iceland before and all I can say is, more authors definitely need to take a leaf out of Grant's book!

It was great to discover that the mystery began with a body (like any good mystery) and I found myself enjoying this book more than any adult mystery book I have read in a while! With this series Grant has proved that she can write a successful whodunnit for kids that still appeals to adults - the writing is energetic and has a whole lot of heart, and I cannot wait to read more of Grant's books - I need more Chase and Mackenzie please!

Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32595126-chasing-danger?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mystery-Ice-Hotel-Chasing-Danger/dp/1407163302 

Check Sara Grant out here: http://sara-grant.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/AuthorSaraGrant

Make sure you check out the other stops on the blog tour!

Until next time :)

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

BOOK REVIEW | 'Shadow Magic' by Joshua Khan (****)

Hello readers, and happy Tuesday! Today I am very excited to be on blog tour, where I will be talking about the wonderful Shadow Magic by Joshua Khan!

Shadow Magic was published on 6th October by Scholastic, and it is the first in a trilogy packed full of action, adventure and plot twists that will not let you go until the very last page.

Check out Joshua Khan here:

Joshua Khan was born in Britain. From very early on he filled himself with the stories of heroes, kings and queens until there was hardly any room for anything else. He can tell you where King Arthur was born* but not what he himself had for breakfast. So, with a head stuffed with tales of legendary knights, wizards and great and terrible monsters it was inevitable Joshua would want to create some of his own. Hence SHADOW MAGIC. Josh lives in London with his family, but he’d rather live in a castle. It wouldn’t have to be very big, just as long as it had battlements.
*Tintagel, in case you were wondering.

Shadow Magic is a fantastic story perfect for fans of Rick Riordan, Dave Rudden and J.K. Rowling. If you're looking for an alluring fantasy story with remarkable characters, an intriguing plot and a huge dark mystery at its heart, then Shadow Magic is the book for you!

Sound interesting? Check out the blurb here...

Thorn, an outlaw's son, wasn't supposed to be a slave. He's been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they're headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire.
Lilith Shadow wasn't supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But following the murder of her family, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?

Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky.

Shadow Magic is a book both hilarious and heart-warming, action-packed and exciting. The dialogue was witty and realistic, the characters were fantastic and their interaction with each other was brilliant. Khan has perfected the art of cooking up characters who are brave, believable and, ultimately, brilliantly crafted. The friendships were really well done, and the presentation of strong friendships is probably the most important aspect of a MG, borderline YA novel.

The writing in Shadow Magic is definitely enough to hold the attention of even the most reluctant young reader - the plot, the characters, the intriguing mystery at the height of the novel. I would recommend this to any reader, young or old!

Check out Joshua Khan here:

Make sure you guys check out the rest of the stops on the tour!

Until next time :)

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

GUEST POST | Perdita reviews 'The Apprentice Witch' by James Nicol

Hello readers, and happy Wednesday! Today I am delighted to publish a guest post review by the lovely Perdita Cargill - of The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol. 

I hope you enjoy :)

I knew from the moment I read the chapter headings (The Snotling Nest, The Exploding Kitchen...) that I was going to love James Nicol’s The Apprentice Witch. And I did. 

Things start out quite badly for Arianwyn (a humiliating result in an exam is always going to be a relateable low point), they get worse (Crawlers and Snotlings) and then they get even worse (out of control hex patches and Calvarias and rifts and worse). She’s got a lot on her plate but she’s more than up to the various challenges (even if she’s the last person to recognize that).  Arianwyn might be all legs and messy curls and no question she has an unfortunate tendency to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but she’s not a lovable loser. She’s rather brilliant and terribly hard working and I loved her for that as well as for her bravery and kindness. 

Nicol has drawn a beautifully imagined world for his characters. A brown envelope announcing Arianwyn’s posting, an atlas open to her island world of Hylund and a dot marking out Lull the little town at the very edge of the Great Wood and we know there is adventure and probably danger ahead. Place is conjured up fluently and beautifully (I want to visit the Spellorium). There are new creatures and new terrors and a new spell language, even the bus Beryl has a personality. And the physical book that holds it all is quite lovely with book cover and illustrations by Daniela Terrazzini.

But as well as being a delicious witch-in-training story this novel has a strong message, ‘Fear is with us all at some time or other. It’s nothing to be ashamed of’.  Arianwyn to triumph has to get her insecurities out of the way ‘The darkness was her own doubt, her own fear and her own loneliness’, she has to become confident about her own abilities.  Arianwyn can’t be allowed to be a little girl anymore, it’s time for her to become a witch.  And being a witch in this story means taking care of oneself and of others – it means having a whole town dependent on you for protection. These are adult responsibilities, especially in what is, for all the warmth of some of the description, a complicated and threatened world. For the most part the adults are either not there (a father fighting battles in Veersland, a grandmother whose love is reliable but whose presence is not and whose strength is beginning to wane) or a bit useless ( Mayor Belcher). But although Arianwyn is out of the schoolroom some of the classic school book themes are still there and why not? They never really go away – competing friendships and the horrible complications when you know that someone has lied and cheated. The code of friendship is always hard to understand but especially so when it is being manipulated by someone you can’t trust. These are themes I still remember being struck by when I read the Enid Blyton school stories some forty years ago.  They remain relevant.  

The Apprentice Witch is the first in a series and I can see that there is so much to come. There’s a love interest in the wings and threats are surely building as much from Urisian attacks as from dark magic.  Whatever comes I am confident that Arianwyn will be equal to it.

I loved this book.

Until next time :)