Monday, 19 June 2017

BOOK REVIEW | 'October is the Coldest Month' by Christoffer Carlsson (****)

Hi guys, and happy Monday! Today I am very excited to be sharing with you a review of a fab book I read last week, called October is the Coldest Month by Christoffer Carlsson. It is my first scandi noir book, and it gripped me so much I read it in just one day! This book was released on the 8th June, and I'd highly recommend that, whether you normally like crime/murder novels or not, to go and pick up this book. 

I received October is the Coldest Month by the lovely people at Scribe Publishing, in exchange for an honest review :)

October is the Coldest Month follows sixteen-year-old Vega Gillberg, who inadvertently becomes involved in a murder. When her brother Jakob disappears, Vega realises that he is in way deeper than she ever imagined, and makes it her mission to find out what's going on, and who is to blame for the murder. They live in a small town, and in small towns stories spread easily; secrets are hard to hide. Will Vega uncover the truth, or will this one particular lie exist to haunt her forever?

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Vega Gillberg is 16 years old when the police come knocking on the door looking for her older brother, Jakob.

Vega hasn’t heard from him in days, but she has to find him before the police do. Jakob was involved in a terrible crime. What no one knows is that Vega was there, too.

In the rural Swedish community where the Gillbergs live, life is tough, the people are even tougher, and old feuds never die. As Vega sets out to find her brother, she must survive a series of threatening encounters in a deadly landscape. As if that wasn’t enough, she’s dealing with the longing she feels for a boy that she has sworn to forget, and the mixed-up feelings she has for her brother’s best friend.

During a damp, raw week in October, the door to the adult world swings open, and Vega realises that once she has crossed the threshold there is no turning back.

From bestselling Swedish crime-writer Christoffer Carlsson.

I loved this book! I have never read a Swedish crime novel before, yet this book totally worked for me and I was completely sucked in. The characters were so gritty, edgy and believable, and the writing echoed this. It was cold and dark, yet at the same time lyrically beautiful. Carlsson writes in such an evocative way, and I was entranced.

The idea of the small, close knit community was something so well explored in this book, and so interesting to read about. All the characters had such interesting interactions and relationships with each other and I feel like the reader was given such an intimate insight into this community. 

Before I started reading this, I was hoping for vivid, haunting descriptions of scene and setting (seeing as it is a scandi noir!) and I was delighted to see that I was not disappointed. Carlsson creates a world so dark and impenetrable that the reader is completely immersed in this world, and all the hidden secrets that come with it.

I thought the story itself was impeccably crafted and I was impressed by the twist at the end. I did feel slightly left on a cliff-hanger as to Tom and Vega's relationship - throughout the novel she was presented as such a strong and determined character when it came to investigating the murder and uncovering the secrets of the people around her, yet I never really saw her condemning Tom's treatment of her. I thought her character was developed really well, however were just a few issues for me as to how she wasn't presented as a particularly resilient and staunch female character. 

However, overall I adored this book and it's a fantastic story to completely lose yourself in. It's out now, so run to your nearest bookshop and pick it up!

Until next time :)

Thursday, 15 June 2017

DELIGHTFUL KIDS BOOKS | BLOG TOUR | St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies | Dear My Younger Self...

Hey guys, and happy Thursday! Today I am so excited to be writing another post for my children's book feature - this time with a guest post for a blog tour! 

Today I am going to be talking about the wonderful St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies by the equally wonderful Karen McCombie (let's also not forget the fab illustrations by Becka Moor!) Just after Christmas I read and reviewed the first book in the series: St Grizzles School for Girls, Goats and Random Boys, and absolutely adored it! You can read my review here. So when Stripes Publishing got in touch to ask if I was interested in reading the next book, I couldn't say yes fast enough!

Check out the blurb for St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies here:

When local schools are asked to make a film showcasing the surrounding area, Dani and the rest of St Grizzle’s set to work. But Spencer and his mates at the village school are determined to sabotage the work of the smelly Grizzlers.

To Dani’s surprise, help comes in the form of Granny Viv who has secretly taken up residence in the school’s tree house with Downboy the dog. Together they come up with the perfect ghostly video ... but will Granny Viv be able to stay once the competition’s over?

I haven't had the chance to read this yet, but when I do, I'm sure it will be just as heartwarming and hilarious as the first book!

In the meantime, here is a post by Karen McCombie, with a message for the younger her...

Dear My Younger Self…*

I love how you loved to play for hours, making family, friends and communities out of not just your toys, but anything around the house that wasn’t nailed down. 

Random buttons from the big button tin in the sideboard was a favourite, I remember. 
But you really went to town in the bathroom, schlepping every bottle, jar and tub out of the there on a tray and spending forever on your knees on the living room floor, creating soap operas for all the characters (the posh Perfume Bottle family were so mean to the hardworking Moisturisers, weren’t they?). 

Mum and Dad were pretty cool for not sniggering out loud, especially when they found tiny scribbled bits of paper taped to the bottom of every item on the bathroom shelves, each scribble a carefully chosen character name (Trixie the Talcum Powder, Fernando the Shaving Foam)…

I also loved how you completely loved books, after a false start when no-one spotted your partial deafness. You were a bit scared of words and reading in your first couple of years of school, weren’t you? Reading seemed like a puzzle everyone understood but you, when really, you were just in a fug of panic, unsure what was going on around you in the classroom half the time.

And I loved that you loved stories so much that you pushed through your crippling shyness and auditioned for school plays, desperate to be in the middle of an acted-out story, as well as losing yourself between the pages of books.

Would you be surprised to know that all the childhood reading, acting and story-spinning with assorted shampoos, nail varnishes and Syrup of Figs bottles added up to a Proper Job one day? 

‘Cause here’s the thing; I’m an actual author.

And it’s all down to you, you kooky, shy, brave little person… Thanks!


Your Older Self, the Big Grown-up Karen McCombie

* I nicked this title from my daughter – it’s the name of a song she’s written on her gukelele (yes, that’s a thing – Google it).

Karen McCombie is the best-selling author of more than 80 books. The second in her fabulously funny ‘St Grizzle’s’ series –‘St Grizzle’s School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies’ – is out now, from Stripes. 

Thanks so much for appearing on my blog, Karen!

Make sure you guys check out the other posts on the blog tour <3

Buy St Grizzle's School for Girls, Ghosts and Runaway Grannies here:

Check out Karen McCombie here:

Until next time :)

Monday, 12 June 2017

BOOK REVIEW | 'Troublemakers' by Catherine Barter (****)

Hi guys, and happy Monday! Today I am very excited to be reviewing a book for you, in what feels like a very long time! Last week I finished my second year of university, so I am so excited to catch up on the reviews I need to write, and tackle the huuuuuge TBR I have for my summer holidays! 

The first book I am going to be reviewing for you guys is Troublemakers by Catherine Barter. I hadn't heard about this book before, however when I spoke to the wonderful people at Andersen Press, who suggested that Troublemakers would be the perfect book to be included in a brand new feature I am curating at the moment. 

Troublemakers is a wonderful new YA debut following Alena, who has never met her mother, yet she has a hold on her that Alena just does not understand. She lives with her half brother Danny and his boyfriend Nick, as she always has done, yet recently, things have been more tense than usual. The 'East-End Bomber' is loose around London, and it's something Nick and Danny can't shelter Alena from any longer. Coupled with this is Alena's urge to find out more about herself, and where she comes from. Starting with Alena's mother. But there are secrets locked in the past, and how to discover them is anything but simple.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...

Fifteen-year-old Alena never really knew her political activist mother, who died when she was a baby. She has grown up with her older half-brother Danny and his boyfriend Nick in the east end of London. Now the area is threatened by a bomber who has been leaving explosive devices in supermarkets. It is only a matter of time before a bomb goes off. 
Against this increasingly fearful backdrop, Alena seeks to discover more about her past, while Danny takes a job working for a controversial politician. As her family life implodes, and the threat to Londoners mounts, Alena starts getting into trouble. Then she does something truly rebellious.

A searing, heartbreaking coming-of-age tale for fans of Lisa Williamson, Jenny Downham and Sarah Crossan.

I absolutely loved this book. It is definitely unlike any YA I have read before - Troublemakers has such a unique storyline and a distinctive, relatable voice. I loved the character of Alena and I thought she was so well written and a very realistic teenager character. She is intelligent and thoughtful and determined; YA should have more female characters like Alena. This is not only an incredibly interesting but also a very different and diverse book. I have never read a book with a sister/brother sort of parent relationship, and although this is shocking, I don't think I've read a book featuring a gay couple as some of the principle characters. All of the characters were so well-rounded, interesting, but also intensely realistic. They're the kind of characters who you could imagine living just down your road.

The writing style and the dialogue were probably my favourite parts of the book. Barter writes in such a fresh, contemporary, uncomplicated way. The dialogue really helped me imagine the characters and feel more connected to them.

Troublemakers is a distinctly modern book that tackles many of the social and political issues that concern us today. I love it how a YA book isn't afraid to tackle and explore these issues from a teenager's perspective. Also the feminist history was something I really enjoyed reading about, and it will definitely inspire readers who have not come across the Greenham Common women to go off and research and find out more about them.

Overall I loved this book, I enjoyed the mysterious element of Alena trying to find out about her family, I loved the characters and the fact that the book was so interesting and diverse, and the writing was effortless and invigorating. For a debut novel this is an absolute star, and I can't wait to read more from Catherine Barter.

This is definitely a book to get your hands on this summer! 

Check out Catherine Barter here:

Until next time :)

Thursday, 8 June 2017

DELIGHTFUL KIDS BOOKS | 5* BOOK REVIEW | 'Doodle Cat Is Bored' by Kat Patrick and Lauren Marriott

Hi guys, and happy Thursday! Today I am so excited to be back with my children's book feature! I have been sent lots of wonderful kids books recently so I cannot wait to share them with all of you as part of this feature - keep an eye out ;)

Today the book I am going to be reviewing is Doodle Cat Is Bored by the wonderful Kat Patrick and Lauren Marriott. Some of you might remember when I featured I Am Doodle Cat waaaaay back in April last year - it was the first children's book I reviewed on my blog, so this character has quite a special place in my heart!

If you want to read my review of I Am Doodle Cat, check out this link

Doodle Cat Is Bored follows the hilarious and unforgettable character of Doodle Cat, as he finds himself caught in the worst nightmare any child can find themselves in... He is bored. No one will listen to him, and no one cares. That is, until Doodle Cat finds a crayon. And suddenly his dull, black-and-white world is transformed into an adventure of colour, silliness and imagination.

Check out the blurb here...

Doodle Cat is back and he is very bored. Until he finds a thing! But what is this thing and what does it do?

Following on from their debut picture book I Am Doodle Cat, writer Kat Patrick and illustrator Lauren Marriott have created another hilarious tale featuring the irreverent bright red squiggle who loves just about everything.

Bursting with imagination and fun, Doodle Cat returns to remind us to be curious, creative and to explore every option.

I thoroughly enjoyed I Am Doodle Cat, and I was so pleased to find that I enjoyed this book just as much as the first one. Doodle Cat is such a loveable, wonderfully mischievous character that your children will love. The feeling of boredom is something every energetic kid (and their tired parents) will relate to and the story is a joy to read aloud, to kids both young and a bit older.

I love how the book transforms from simple, black and white drawings to delightfully crazy and colourful pages as Doodle Cat discovers the wonder of creativity. Just like the first book, this book has such positive messages such as the importance of playing and being creative, and how fun discovering new things can be!

Doodle Cat Is Bored is wonderfully funny, clever and heartwarming, and the illustrations make the book that bit more delightful. There are loads of silly fart and bum jokes that kids will split their sides over!

I'd recommend this book for children for 0-4 years, it's the perfect story for bored kids!

Check out the author, Kat Patrick here:

Check out the illustrator, Lauren Marriott here:

Buy Doodle Cat Is Bored here:

Until next time :)